Rundell leads Oak Park-River Forest on another run
Champaign, IL 2/17/12 The top high school wrestlers in the state met up in Champaign in Saturday's championship matches of the IHSA State Meet. Oak Park River Forest's Matthew Rundell tries to take down Thornton's Kris Williams in the first place match,
Saturday Girls gymnastics: Meadows Invite, 11 a.m.
Girls gymnastics: Meadows Invite, 11 a.m.
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Boys basketball: vs. Fenwick, 6 p.m.
Updated: February 5, 2013 10:08PM
OAK PARK — No matter the level, Oak Park-River Forest sophomore Matthew Rundell expects to win championships.
Before competing in high school, Rundell captured two Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation titles and reached the finals seven times during his youth career.
Rundell came two points away from winning his first IHSA title last season after being ranked by Illinoismatmen.com as the state’s No. 1 wrestler at 106 pounds at the end of the regular season. His final match ended in a 4-3 loss to Thornton’s Kris Williams in the Class 3A title bout. He finished the season with a 44-3 record.
He’s looking to accomplish more this season.
“This year, I am focused a lot more on technique,” Rundell said. “I am trying to become a more well-rounded wrestler.”
He is one of five returning state qualifiers for the Huskies, who finished second last season to Sandburg, falling 30-24 in the state final. The other returnees are sophomore Larry Early (40-8), junior Johnny Gahagan (20-15), junior Davonte Mahomes (39-5) and Joe Ariola (36-9). Ariola and Jake O’Mara both are returning seniors. One member of coach Mike Powell’s incoming freshman class is Isaiah White at 126.
After taking a break from training following his first IHSA season, Rundell competed at the U.S. Junior Nationals in July in Fargo, N.D.
Rundell needs no reminder about how last season ended.
“I think about that match every day,” Rundell said. “I see it as a stepping stone. It’s a form of motivation.”
Rundell credits his appearance in Class 3A championships to Huskies coach Powell.
“My coach gives me a huge advantage,” Rundell said. “If I went to any other school, or belonged to any other district, I probably would not have gone to the state finals.”
Third-ranked OPRF defeated top-ranked Marist 26-25 on Saturday. The Huskies open the West Suburban Silver season against Hinsdale Central, which was ranked No. 9 in the preseason, at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at home. They then travel to Hinsdale for the Whitlach Invitational Dec. 14-15.