Marmion Academy unleashed a fierce attack on Saturday to overwhelm the competition and emerge with the team championship at the 22nd annual Moore-Prettyman Wrestling Invitational at Barrington High School.
The Cadets broke bravely out of the blocks to begin the final session of the prestigious tournament with two titles in the early going, one of them from defending state champ Johnny Jimenez. Marmion steadily racked up points and finished with an 85-point advantage over runner-up Libertyville.
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Plainfield Central surged past the host Broncos to nab third-place honors with 164.50 points, 11 more than Barrington. Crystal Lake South rounded out the top five with 131 points.
"I don't know what to say," said Cadets first-year head coach Ryan Cumby. "I was really impressed with the effort all our guys gave -- not only today, but yesterday during the first day.
"We work the guys very hard and ask a lot of all of them, and I was very pleased to see all of that carry over from the (practice room) and into the tournament from the very beginning. Although it's just the first weekend of a long year, it's a great start, and now we have something to build from."
Junior Anthony Bosco got things rolling with a 11-2 major decision over Nick Koch of Grant in the 106-pound final for Marmion.
Jimenez, who will be after a second consecutive state crown, turned in a masterful performance in a fall at 2:30 against the Libertyville junior Steve Polakowski.
"Johnny helped set the tone for the rest of the team with a dominating effort against a really good opponent," said Cumby.
"The match kind of began slow," said Jimenez, who was recognized as the tournament's outstanding wrestler by the 28 head coaches in attendance, "but once it opened up, I was able to really go after him and wrestle the way I plan on doing all of this season."
In between the Marmion wins, Cary-Grove sophomore Michael Cullen turned in a nearly flawless six-minute match to defeat A.J. Jaffe of Marmion 9-2.
"A.J. and I know each other and have competed many times during the off-season, and he's a very good young wrestler, but one that I know very well," said Cullen, who began the season as the No. 3-rated 113-pounder in the state by Illinois Best Weekly. "I was a little cautious at the outset because I know (A.J.) is very good tactically, but once I was able to break him down and begin to build a lead, I felt like was in control.
"It's nice to start the season winning a title at such a big tournament, but it's just a building block in what I hope to be an even bigger prize later on."
"Michael is such a different person, both on and off the mat this season, compared to his first year with us," said Cary-Grove coach Ryan Ludwig, who was without five from his lineup as they competed for a football state championship in Champaign. "He is so much better prepared to meet the high expectations he places upon himself."
Crystal Lake South used a strong semifinal effort to send three into the finals and move up the ladder in the team race to eventually edge Joliet West by 4.5 points.
Sophomore Nicholas Gil finished a marvelous two days of work with an impressive 13-0 major decision win over Cory Pych (South Elgin) to earn a championship at 126 pounds.
"We came here with just 10 guys, seven of which brought home medals, and it's just a nice start to what we hope will be a very successful season for us," said Gators coach Ross Ryan.
"There's four of us -- Eric Barone, Nick Peters and Casey Callahan --who are all about the same weight," said Gil, "and we just go at each other each day in the room, and push each other as hard as we can to get better. I am happy to come away with a first-place finish, but I know it's only the start."
Both Barone and Peters ran into some tough customers and fell short in their bid to join Gil atop the podium.
Barone, a sophomore, was beaten by George Fisher of Marmion 7-2 at 132, while Peters was unable to solve Nick Nasenbeny (Plainfield Central) at 138 pounds, falling 5-0.
Barrington appeared to have set itself up for a strong run at the second-place trophy, having entered the day with a 22-point advantage over Libertyville. But a rough ride in the semifinals, where the Broncos had just two winners (Coord Wiseman and Mark Shealy) limited Ken Hoving's team.
"Kind of a rough day all the way around," said Hoving.
Wisemans' inability to finish several shots against Ryan Holzrichter (Plainfield Central) led to his eventual demise in a 9-2 defeat in the 145-pound final.
"He didn't get any shots off for most of the match, but he was so good at defending, and hopefully if I get another chance, I won't try any outside shots on him," said Wiseman, who before his last match had recorded a pair of falls and a 4-0 decision.
Shealy was shut out 5-0 by Grant senior and two-time state qualifier Tony Cashmore in the 182-pound title bout.
There was plenty of good news from around the area, including third-place finishes from Kegan Calkins (Wheaton North, 120), Sean Sarkauskas (Waubonsie Valley, 152), Kellen Cleveland (Wheaton North, 195) and Prospect heavyweight Oluwashola George.
Senior Cody Snodgrass (195) followed the winning example of his Marmion teammates with a methodical 8-3 win over Justin Fuller of Lyons Township. The Cadets freshman duo of Riley Demoss (152) and Lucas Warren (220) impressed Cumby and his staff throughout the tourney, leading up to their second-place medals.
"Those (two) and the other freshmen we had here showed me a lot this weekend," said the Cadets coach. "They didn't wrestle like freshmen, and they showed they belong in our starting lineup right from the very start."