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Arnold Walker adjusts to East Aurora


Arnold Walker He returned to his natural habitat as a senior at East Aurora.

With your teammate’s graduation Bryan RomeroWalker moved down from heavyweight to the more acceptable 215 pounds.

“Last season I weighed 225 or 230 pounds at most,” Walker said. “I was racing guys who were 40 or 50 pounds heavier than me. Everything feels free and open now.

“I’m going to put more effort into finesse, shooting and using my athleticism.”

Walker used it to reach the championship round for the host Tomcats in Saturday’s Class 3A East Aurora Regional. Lost a tough 7-4 decision to Naperville Central Nicolas Besteiro.

Walker (15-3) and senior Gabriel Hernandez (13-5) placed third with 175 points, making them the only Tomcats to qualify for the Hinsdale Central Sectional, which begins Friday.

Despite his weight disadvantage last season, Walker qualified for the state meet with 285 points and finished with a 27-11 record.

“Having that experience and knowing what I went through last year going through Hinsdale Central, the toughest division in the state, and then Champaign, it showed me how hard you have to work,” he said.

East Aurora’s Arnold Walker (R) fights Naperville Central’s Nicolas Besteiro in the 215-pound championship match of the Class 3A East Aurora Regional on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)

Lower weight wrestling optimizes every aspect of Walker’s style, East Aurora coach says Frank Davison.

“Heavyweights tend to wrestle at a slower tempo,” Davison said. “And Arnold is a really athletic guy. Now that he’s back at 215, he can use that athletic ability much better. He gets into his shots.

“He’s a tough kid and a hard-working kid.”

Walker, the standout tight end and defensive end who led East Aurora’s football team to the Class 8A state playoffs, got his start in wrestling relatively late.

His blend of speed, strength, conditioning and balance overcomes his lack of technique.

“I was in youth football,” he said. “The coaches said it would be good for me to try wrestling as part of my training and development.”

And Walker knows the process going forward.

“I’m used to facing one man when I play football,” he said. “Now there is the same attitude and mentality in wrestling.

“It’s nothing personal, but I’ll be checking people out and taking care of business.”

East Aurora's Arnold Walker wrestles West Aurora's Alfonso Aguilar at 215 pounds in the Class 3A East Aurora Regional semifinals on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Aurora.  (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)User Upload Title: TK
East Aurora’s Arnold Walker trains against Naperville Central’s Nicolas Besteiro in the 215-pound championship match of the Class 3A East Aurora Regional on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)

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Senior Class 3A state champion St. Charles East earned seven individual first-place finishes and 10 qualifiers at the regional qualifier in DeKalb.

Saints’ trio of defending state champions – sophomores Dom Munaretto (113), senior Okay Davino (132) and senior jayden column (144) — Saturday’s dominant run strengthened.

Youth Sam Sikorsky (106) and Andrew Wendt (132) and the elderly Peyton Marzen (157) and Joe Pettit (215) also qualified for Geneva.

Strong Students

Marmion had six individual champions dominate the regional at Glenbard West.

Sophomore standouts Nicholas Garcia (113), Zach Stewart (138) and Joey Favia (215) set up the attack for the Cadets, who selected 10 men for the Hinsdale Central Division.

Batavia qualified for six, including seniors Ino Garcia (120), Aidan Huck (144) and undefeated Ben Brown (190) captures championships. Youth Jack Duraski (132) Also won for the Bulldogs.

best of all

At East Aurora, West Aurora finished second in the team standings behind Naperville Central. The Blackhawks have had five individual champions, spanning old and new.

Senior Noah Quintana (157) and young Dominic Serio He won his second career championship (157).

“My past experiences gave me a better understanding of what to expect,” Quintana said. “Everything went more smoothly.”

second grade students Dayne Serio (165) and Evan Matkovich (126) joined senior Adrian Ortiz As the Blackhawks’ first-time champions.

Matkovich, who increased his record to 31-8, said, “I set out knowing that I had to do my best to win.” “Winning means a lot because last year I didn’t even make it to the regional competition.

“This shows how much I’ve improved.”

Patrick Z. McGavin is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.


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