Cullen Cummings senior season one of domination on the mat
Watching Cullen Cummings wrestle for Downers Grove North, it’s easy to see why he’s been so successful on the mat this season.
|Downers Grove North's Cullen Cummings wrestles Mike Gastaldello during practice Monday Jan. 7 2013. Cullen is ranked #1 in state. Erica Benson—email@example.com (Erica Benson)|
Watching Cullen Cummings wrestle, it’s easy to see why he’s been so successful on the mat this season.
He’s aggressive. He’s quick on his feet. He’s technically sound.
And now he’s at a weight more suited for success.
After wrestling at 132 pounds last season, the Downers Grove North senior is up at 138 and feeling great.
“I just feel comfortable with the weight I’m at,” Cummings said. “I got a little bigger in the offseason. I’m still cutting a little bit, but it’s not bad.”
Like most wrestlers, Cummings is just as likely to talk about his weaknesses as his strengths, even though he has more of the latter than the former. Wrestling at 138 as opposed to 132 means he has more energy and strength, which is evident when he is in action. And if his performance at North’s quad meet Jan. 5 was any indication, his biggest weakness is close to being a strength.
“I’ve kind of been working on turning kids,” Cummings said. “I feel on my feet I’m doing pretty well, but when I’m on bottom I need to start turning kids and getting more points so I can sort of become a more dimensional wrestler. I don’t want to be just on my feet.”
Facing Champaign Centennial Jan. 5, he earned a reversal and a slew of back points in a 15-0 technical fall win. He should only get better when wrestling from bottom position since he practices against heavier teammates.
“Nick Bonomo, he’s our 160-pounder, or Mike Gastaldello (152). Then with the big kids sometimes,” Cummings said. “You’ve got to wrestle the bigger guys because then wrestling the smaller guys is nothing.”
Sometimes wrestling the bigger guys is nothing, too. Cummings wrestled up at 145 at the Conant invite early in the season and won the title there. He gave himself an early Christmas present with a title at Hinsdale Central’s Rex Whitlatch tournament Dec. 15, which included winning what he said was his toughest match of the year against Belleville West’s Mech Spraggins.
“Before we wrestled he was (ranked) No. 2 and I was No. 3,” Cummings said. “I only beat him 5-4. He’s tough. It was a good confidence booster. I’ll see him downstate. I just have to stay focused.”
He successfully rang in the new year a little early with a dominant run to the title at Palatine’s Berman invite Dec. 28. A state appearance appears to be in the making again this year, though Cummings knows there is no room for error or to get caught up in the moment, especially in the postseason. It’s something he learned last year when he returned after missing a large portion of the season.
“At state last year I was a little nervous,” he said. “It was my first time there in front of all those people facing a kid (Bartlett’s Sal Annoreno) I was 1-1 against last season. But that experience is something to add on in February. I know the atmosphere there.”
When he came back to the mat last year, it also helped grow his love for wrestling, so much so that he hung up his soccer cleats. The toughness and team camaraderie just appealed to him a little bit more.
“I always played soccer since I was little and I love the sport still, but I fell in love with being tough and kind of beating up on kids. It’s fun,” Cummings said. “And I like the relationships you build with teammates. We’re all really close knit because we know how much we’ve all gone through.”
2009-10: Regional champ
2010-11: Regional runner-up; state qualifier
2011-12: Regional champ; state qualifier; 2nd in state (132 pounds)
2012-13: 26-0 record (as of Jan. 4), Conant invite champ, Hinsdale Central champ, Palatine champ
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