Huntley junior David Ferrante dominated his competition in the Class 3A 170-pound state championship bracket. He won all four of his matches in Champaign by a pin or a major decision, becoming Huntley’s first wrestling state champion.
He went 46-2 and was ranked No. 1 in his weight class all season. He pinned No. 2-ranked Jacob Boumans of Neuqua Valley in the state title match and added a cartwheel across the mat for good measure.
For his performance this season, Ferrante was named the 2019 Northwest Herald Wrestler of the Year, as chosen by the Northwest Herald sports staff with input from area coaches. He is the first Huntley wrestler to win the award.
McHenry County’s other state champions, Marian Central’s Dylan Connell and Crystal Lake South’s Christian Olsen, were strongly considered for the honor. Only one time has the Northwest Herald split the award between multiple wrestlers, in 2011 when Crystal Lake Central teammates Joey Kielbasa and Trevor Jauch both finished their senior seasons as three-time state champions.
Ferrante recently spoke with the Northwest Herald about his cartwheel, his wrestling influences, and his astronomical GPA.
So, about that cartwheel, did you practice that before state?
Ferrante: We do tumbling sections in our practices in the beginning just to warm ourselves up – we'll do cartwheels, roundoffs, stuff like that. I've always been a decent tumbler.
What did you do during the 24 hours between winning the state semifinal and the championship match?
Ferrante: I went to the arena early in the day to watch my teammates in the blood round. After they lost in the blood round, I went back to the hotel, took an hour nap, then chilled out, woke up, got hydrated, ate some healthy food. Then about two, three hours before we had to go to the arena for the Grand March, I went to Huff Hall to get loose and do some drills. After that, I went back to the hotel, showered, then it was 4:30 and we went back to Huff Hall for the March.
What’s the Grand March like?
Ferrante: The Grand March was awesome. It didn't really hit me that I was in the Grand March until they called my name. It was like, "Oh, dang, it's business now. This is the moment that I've been dreaming of."
What’s it like wrestling on that stage?
Ferrante: I was so pumped up. I was ready to wrestle. I knew I'd worked all year for this and, at that point, it was just a matter of executing. I kind of try to block a lot of it out, block out the noise and just focus on my guy. The adrenaline was just crazy after I won. Some people plan out the celebration, but that was just natural. I was feeling that in the moment.
Who are your wrestling influences?
Ferrante: Obviously, coach [B.J.] Bertelsman. [Assistant] coach [Erik] Lachel, who's also my history teacher. He's a great technician. He puts his heart into it. He's always watching [FloWrestling], always trying to learn something new to help us. Coach [Richard] Tado, he was our coach freshman and sophomore year. He helped me a lot growing up. Ever since I was 8 years old, I trained with him. I'm excited for my future Northwestern coaches. Israel Martinez, I started wrestling with him a little bit in the preseason. It was cool to get to know him. There's a lot of coaches that I've had. Everyone's helped me a lot, and I'm really thankful for them.
How did you get into wrestling?
Ferrante: I got into the sport because my older brothers had played football. I started getting into football when I was 8. The football coaches told me I should wrestle, it'll make you a better football player. And ever since then I fell in love with the sport.
What match did you feel like you were wrestling your best this season?
Ferrante: In [Harlem's Al Dvorak Invitational in December], I felt like I had a really strong performance throughout that tournament. State, I felt like I was strong. That final match was probably my best match I've wrestled. I was just on. It was all instinct at that point.
Are you still No. 1 in your class at Huntley?
Ferrante: Yes, fortunately. There's some smart kids there.
How many kids are in your class?
Ferrante: Seven hundred and fifty.
What’s your GPA?
Ferrante: My weighted, cumulative, counting all the years, it's a 4.62 on a 4.0 scale. Last semester I was at a 4.87 for the weighted.
So what’s your favorite class?
Ferrante: That's honestly a tough one. I think about this a lot. I really like calculus right now. I also really like science. Chemistry is a lot of fun. I want to be a doctor, so I'm pretty STEM-oriented.
In general, who is your biggest hero?
Ferrante: I'd say my grandpa [Lee Alo]. He's in his 80s, a really smart guy. He's been battling dementia and Alzheimer's for quite some time. He doesn't really recognize me anymore. He inspires me a lot because he knew five languages, he was a principal of a high school, he paid his own way through college. I feel like if I could be like him, I'd be really good in life.
I really wanted to win for him. My uncle, my mom’s oldest brother, he told my grandpa, ‘Your grandson, David, he’s wrestling for state and he’s going to the finals.’ He finally understood a little. He said, ‘Tell him good luck.’ He finally came to for that, which is cool.
What are three of your favorite movies?
Ferrante: "Vision Quest," "8 Mile," and "Good Will Hunting."