Like any athlete, Chance Shea enjoys winning.
But that’s not what has kept him on the wrestling mat since fifth grade.
So as he begins the tail end of his final season on Lake Forest High School’s wrestling team, the senior knows he already has received plenty from the sport.
“It’s completely worth it in the end,” Chance said of staying with the sport. “Even if you’re not all-conference, it makes you into a man and builds good character. I would tell the freshmen to never complain; it’s not going to get you anywhere.”
Shea looks forward to extending his season a little longer starting with this weekend’s North Suburban Conference meet at Libertyville High School. Matches run tonight, Jan. 27, and Saturday.
Last year Shea finished fifth at 160 pounds at the North Suburban Conference meet. However, he moved up a weight class to 171 this season, put together a 24-4 record and left behind the weight struggles that burdened him last year.
“Last year I was sort of wrestling up a lot,” he said. “I was really struggling for that. 171 is much more comfortable. It has been the perfect weight to be at this year.”
Scout coach Matt Fiordirosa has noticed the difference this season even though this is his first year as head coach.
“Chance is a naturally lean guy, so 160 was never really an option for him,” Fiordirosa said. “171 seems to fit him well. He has to run the day of weigh-ins to make sure he's on, but it’s not a terrible weight cut for him.”
Determination, Focus on His Side
Shea should be among the top–seeded wrestlers in his weight class this weekend, but Fiordirosa said regardless of where he lands in the bracket, he will have to beat quality competition.
“I think he should get a pretty high seed, but what really matters is how he performs,” Fiordirosa said. “We have a tough conference and anything can happen. High seedings are nice, but in the end you're going to have to beat the tough opponents to bring home the medals.”
The next weekend will be the state regional. Last year, no one from Lake Forest advanced. Shea might change that this time.
“This year I think I have a pretty good shot at it,” he said.
Fiordirosa believes Shea has the right attitude in place to make it happen.
“He has a very good opportunity to compete this year and make a run at the state tournament,” Fiordirosa said. “It’s his senior year and he's really determined and focused to go out with a bang. He's won some tournaments this year and has a lot of confidence going into these tournaments.”
That mental makeup is evident every time he takes to the mat, and may be his best weapon beyond any special moves or body-type advantages.
“Chance's greatest quality is his mental toughness,” Fiordirosa said. “Like I said before, he's very determined this year and he goes with full intensity the second the whistle blows until the match is over. He has worked hard all year and hoping it all pays off.”
Shea said he spent the summer working out, competing in a few tournaments, attending a couple of camps and suffered a muscle strain in his arm. However, to date that is the most serious injury he has had.
“I’m very grateful it’s turned out that way,” Shea said.
Shea wants to continue wrestling in college, so he is pursuing an opportunity with Harper College in Palatine. The sport has been part of his life for so long; continuing in college seems like a natural extension.
That’s the type of example Fiordirosa can point to right now and in the future.
“Chance is not always the guy to yell and motivate the team, instead he leads by pushing himself and constantly trying to improve,” Fiordirosa said. “The rest of the team respects this characteristic about him and rises to his intensity in the room. Also, Chance bringing home some bracket sheets this year has motivated the guys to work harder so that one day they can bring home some hardware.”