Stu Landin didn’t have a master plan heading into his senior season at Andrew. It was a little too hard for him to take a stab, make a prediction, with the abrupt conclusion of his junior campaign still fresh in his mind following a promising start.
You see, Landin was one of the top guys in the area last season, racking up a 24-1 record through January. But just before the SouthWest Suburban Tournament, Landin felt the dreaded pop in his knee and his season was over. He tore his ACL, missed the postseason and underwent surgery a few weeks later.
“He was up there all last year until he got hit with that injury, which is devastating,” teammate and fellow captain Joe Vanek said. “Everyone on our team, we still talk about how he would have finished. Stu’s our rock.”
Landin might be the team’s rock, but when the season started, his knee felt more like paper.
“My goal was not getting hurt again, honestly,” Landin said. “I was worried about re-injuring it, or another injury happening.”
So far so good. Landin missed the first meet of the season before being cleared. He hasn’t looked back since and said he continues to gain confidence in his recovering knee — especially since getting his conditioning back midway through the season.
He’s also showing he’s still one of the top guys from the area at 220 pounds.
Landin finished second at the Class 3A Lockport Regional last Saturday, booking his ticket to the Normal West Sectional along with teammates Andrew Tesch, John Brann and Vanek, the regional’s 145-pound champ.
“It’s turning out pretty well,” Landin said of his last year with the team. “This feels really good to advance after not being able to compete at regionals or conference last year.”
Landin isn’t the only Southland wrestler doing damage in the playoffs following a significant knee injury. Homewood-Flossmoor’s Mike Burke, a two-time state qualifier, missed the entire regular season after suffering an ACL tear over the summer. But much like Landin, Burke’s curtain call wasn’t going to be on the sidelines.
With a lone forfeit win to his name, the Vikings’ 120-pounder still managed to top the podium — and impress his coach — at the 3A Bradley Regional.
“I was surprised a little with the way he wrestled,” Geijer said. “I didn’t think he would be as sharp as he was in the first few matches back.”
Geijer was adamant about not rushing Burke back too soon during the season.
“He’s worked hard in the room for the last two months to make sure he was ready for the regional,” Geijer said.
Other Vikings advancing to Saturday’s Normal West Sectional include Alec Campos, Elijah Geronimao, Javon Thompson, Connor Bandy and Devion May, the latter two joining Burke as regional champs.