From the Wrestling Mat to the Winners Podium

Junior Val Rodriguez placed 3rd at the IHSA State Tournament.

In year two as an IHSA sanctioned sport, Schaumburg wrestlers are proving themselves as a force in Illinois girls wrestling.  

Schaumburg wrestlers took the first step toward becoming a powerhouse in the wrestling world with Valeria Rodriguez (3rd Place) and Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic (5th Place) taking competition at the State tournament on February 24th and 25th at the Grossinger Motors Arena, during the IHSA (IL) Dual State Championships.

Sectional champ and MSL Girl Wrestler of the year, Valeria Rodriguez, finished the season with a stunning 29-1 record at 140 (sectional champ), Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic posted a record of 25-4 at 125 (2nd place sectionals), Nadia Razzak 22-10 at 190 (3rd place sectionals), and Madyson Meyer, 25-6 at 115. 

The success starts with the little things everyday in the practice room

— Coach Gruszka

Starting on November 7th and ended on the 25th of February, the season had its successes and difficulties. When new wrestlers joined the team, they had to learn how to work together as a team and when they got sick, they persisted through practice.  Even with the trouble, the team won the first ever MSL Girls wrestling Conference Tournament and had also won the Jacksonville tournament during winter break.

Coach Gruszka expressed his joy with the team’s accomplishments this season, noting that they placed 2nd out of 64 teams and had three state qualifiers. However, he also acknowledged the heartbreak of losing three matches that prevented three other wrestlers from making it to the state. Gruszka credits the team’s success to their hard work and dedication throughout the season, stating that the wrestlers did the little things right each day that led to their big outcomes.

Madeline Zerafa-Lazarevic placed 5th at IHSA State. (Mr. Gruszka)

“This group of girls are pretty close; they are accepting of one another and really support each other throughout the season,” Coach Matt Gruszka stated.  “The success starts with the little things everyday in the practice room.”

MSL Girl Wrestler of the Year, Valeria Rodriguez spoke about her own success and the role her coaches played in it. She explained that the sport was tough when she first started, but she loved the challenge and the drive to push herself to see what she could achieve. However, she also acknowledged that without the support and training of her coaches, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

Of course I can’t neglect the real reason for my successes though, my coaches: Gruszka, LeVanti, and our assistant coaches Luke and Miller. They’ve put in so much work, effort and time into me, if it weren’t for their training I wouldn’t be the way I am now” said MSL Girl Wrestler of the year. “I owe it all to them and I’m grateful for it.”

Everyone needs motivation, I now have mine.

— Valeria Rodriguez

Looking towards the future, both Gruszka and Valeria have their sights set on continuing to grow and improve in the wrestling program at Schaumburg High School. Gruszka emphasized the importance of doing the little things right in the off-season to prepare for next year’s big outcomes. Meanwhile, Valeria is determined to work harder and put in more time to achieve her ultimate goal of winning the state tournament.

“I’ll keep saying it, I want to win state,” said Valeria. “That’s been the goal for a while and I get closer every year. I’ll work harder, put in more time and do everything in my power to achieve so. Everyone needs motivation, I now have mine.”

In addition to the individual accomplishments of Rodriguez and Zerafa-Lazarevic, the team as a whole showed their strength and perseverance this season. Despite the challenges they faced, they continued to train and push themselves to improve. Gruszka highlighted the importance of the team’s work ethic, stating that the wrestlers asked the right questions and were coachable, leading to their success.

Prior to the state tournament, Schaumburg took first place at both the MSL Conference and at multiple meets.

As the wrestling season came to a close, the team and their coaches reflected on their accomplishments and look toward the future. With a strong foundation and a drive to improve, the Schaumburg High School wrestling program is sure to make their mark in the coming seasons. The wrestlers and coaches alike are proud of what they have achieved this year, but they are also eager to continue working hard and pushing themselves to even greater heights in the future.

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