As the calendar year flips to 2022 and Metea Valley’s 12th season of varsity athletics continues, a familiar face walked his way into the Mustang wrestling room hoping to bring back the winning tradition for the Black and Gold grapplers. Find out more in this feature presented by Edward Medical Group.
“I think it was eventually going to happen somewhere. I wasn’t sure it was gonna be here, but I’m glad it is.”
Abe Duran returns to the Metea wrestling mats as the Mustangs new and third head wrestling coach since the departure of former sheriff Matt Long. After four years as a volunteer assistant at North Central College, he spent the previous two in Mustang land under longtime head coach Claudio Torres after starting his coaching career at East Aurora. Torres was Metea’s first head wrestling coach once the varsity program began in 2010. That lengthy tenure provided pivotal learning opportunities for many assistant coaches including coach Abe Duran, who wanted to take his skills to the next level.
“I paid a lot of attention to what he had set up, I had the opportunity to learn a couple things from him and experience what the culture was with in just the Valley’s.”
Before starting the coaching campaign, he began his wrestling path as a competitor himself at East Aurora high school and Augustana College, grappling in the 285-pound weight class. Fast-forward to the 2021-22 school year and the new leader takes the head-coaching role in a familiar neighborhood. Abe Duran believes that this will be an important role for the Metea community.
“I know everyone in the wrestling community it was good to be able to step into the position and know most of the coaches in the area just from being around you know all my life and you know my exposure at North Central.”
The Mustangs have qualified ten wrestlers to the IHSA state tournament and two have found themselves on the podium. The first was Dylan Ervin as runner up in the in the 195-pound weight class in February of 2016. Three years later and three time state qualifier Phillip Sims finished in third place at 145 pounds. While we wait for another athlete in black and gold to earn a spot on the podium, Duran knows that the road to Champaign is a process that won’t happen overnight.
“We have you know our set routine of how we are going to perform on a match right or how we’re going to get there weigh in and what our process is and so we’ve been adapting a little bit so that we have the same process and have the you have the same mentality going into every match.”
As for the wrestlers themselves, having Coach Duran push these Mustangs in the ring will help take their talent to greater heights.
“I really like that he is like trying to attack it as we gotta put in a ton of work and we have to be very aggressive and we can’t take days off like there’s no practices off we have to be full go all the time every time we’re in the room or on the mat no matter what. He’ll come around and drill with people and just work on getting all the kids better at what they need to get better at.”
With the season winding down, Duran’s return to Metea Valley is poised to be the start of something huge for the program on and off the mat.
“Being in the building as a teacher and being able to coach students that I see in the hallways is very important to me. I think we have those relationships and it just strengthens them being able to be in the building.”
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Patrick Codo.
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