Batavia senior wrestler Joey Shump secured a pair of runner-up finishes during the summer tournament season.
He downplays the first for good reason: The second came at the prestigious Greco-Roman Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D.
Building upon a second-place effort at May’s Greco-Roman state meet, Shump earned All-American honors at 126 pounds earlier this month at Fargo by shortening his memory and going from there.
“Forgetting if you lose a match, lose a period,” Shump said. “You just have to get yourself back in position and keep wrestling.”
The rest of Shump’s recovery stemmed from that strategy. Bothered by some inconsistencies in his attack during the early summer, he worked on striking quickly and sprawling back into good position if he took bad shots.
Shump focused mostly on offense while training six times a week at the Naperville-based Overtime School of Wrestling. A variety of practice partners, including Geneva’s Brad Martens, helped Shump test himself against multiple styles.
While his championship match was anticlimactic – Southeast Polk (Iowa) standout Cory Clark scored a 9-0 decision – Shump absorbed the atmosphere and experience that accompanied his third top-seven Fargo finish in the past four summers.
The elevated mat and spotlight didn’t offer quite the same drama as the grand march at the IHSA state meet at Illinois’ Assembly Hall in Champaign, but it’s a start for an athlete still seeking his first extended February run.
“It got a lot of nerves out, stepping on to such a big finals mat. Getting that out of the way,” Shump said. “I know now I can compete on a big stage.”
Then a 103-pounder, Shump ascended from alternate to last-minute state meet participant as a freshman in 2010. He was unable to advance out of sectionals as a sophomore and, this past winter, suffered a season-ending hand injury in mid-January.
Shump was 28-4 when he broke his left hand in the finals of a Batavia tournament. His Lemont opponent accidentally stepped on Shump’s fingers when he attempted to use his hand as leverage to escape a hold.
Shump kept up with conditioning and lower-body weightlifting exercises when he was unable to wrestle, and was ready to compete again as the end of the school year approached.
“Right when I could start wrestling again, it felt fine,” he said. “I had all my strength back within a couple of weeks and it was nice to be back.”
A return to full health wasn’t the only new offseason development for Shump. He’s excited to wrestle under a new – but familiar – coach for his final high school season as longtime Bulldogs assistant Scott Bayer takes over for Ben Morris, who moved on to Fairbury Prairie Central.
“There were times when we weren’t sure because they looked on the outside,” Shump said, “but I was glad they decided on him, because he’s already a good fit at Batavia.”
Bicycle races coming our way: St. Charles is set to host its first cycling criterium on Sunday when the eight-race Prairie State Cycling Series competes on a four-corner, clockwise course in downtown.
Professional and amateur cyclists from nearly 50 cycling teams are expected to ride. The event begins with the 40-minute Women Category 3⁄4 race at 10:10 a.m. and is scheduled to conclude with the 90-minute Pro Men 1⁄2 race at 5 p.m.
Sami Radi, owner of sponsor Sammy’s Bikes in St. Charles, helped captain the effort to bring the races to the Tri-Cities. Last July, an opening leg of the 17-day International Cycling Classic Superweek descended on the streets of Geneva for a 100-kilometer grand prix.
The course, eight-tenths of a mile long, begins in front of Sammy’s Bikes, 602 South 1st St.
Taking aim: The Geneva girls basketball team has been announced as one of 32 participating schools in the 23rd annual McDonald’s Shootout at Willowbrook next season.
An event schedule will be released in December, but it has been confirmed that the Vikings will play in one of six games Jan. 19, 2013.
The Shootout begins with two games Jan. 18 before concluding with an eight-game slate Jan. 21.
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or email@example.com.