It was clear going into Saturday's Fox Valley Conference finals that Crystal Lake Central's five-year reign as the league wrestling champion was over.
The question was, would Cary-Grove's navy and white or McHenry's black and orange be the new colors of FVC wrestling royalty.
McHenry's lead wasn't safe up only 10 points after Friday's prelims but sending 13 of 14 into the semifinals to Cary-Grove's 10 didn't seem to make the Warriors nervous.
The Trojans closed in early with first place wins in 2 of the first 3 matches and watched three wrestlers earn titles, but McHenry grew stronger in the heavier classes and garnered 3 first-place winners, 3 second-place winners and 4 third-place medals to grab the overall championship over Cary-Grove, 261.50-210.
Cary-Grove's Michael Cullen, Logan Hanselmann and Michael Underwood grabbed first-place medals and Crystal Lake South rounded out the top 3 teams with 3 first-place finishers, a second-place finish and 2 thirds.
"We came in with the expectation we wanted to win," Cary-Grove coach Ryan Ludwig said. "McHenry is a very very good team. I'm proud of how our kids wrestled. I think our kids wrestled tough. I'm excited for regionals next week, it's going to be another tough week but I'm excited for our kids. It's a great group of kids, great team. Through our lineup I think we're pretty tough. I think we placed 11 kids."
Cary-Grove did. Cullen (37-0) won the 113-pound weight class over Huntley's Zach Stenger (27-6) with a fall at 2:26 and Hanselmann (27-6) took out top-seeded Branden Peshek (28-5) from Johnsburg at 120 in a 1-0 decision.
Cullen had the only pin of the day and continues his undefeated streak as he tried to open up as much as he could while not getting into a bad position.
"He actually tied up and I went with one of my bread and butter moves, a knee pick," Cullen said. "I just under-hooked him right onto his back and saw my opportunity, just used it."
What's impressive for the junior Hanselmann is that he started wrestling just two years ago because Ludwig didn't have anyone at 103.
"I said I'll try it and I've loved it ever since," said Hanselmann. "It feels great. I worked hard, my partner (Underwood) went out there and clobbered today. He just pushes me in the room all day."
Underwood was pushed to the limit in the most compelling match that needed double OT. Seconds from victory in the third period, Underwood was penalized for stalling against Nick Peters from CL South. In the second half of the OT Peters was able to grab a 2-1 lead with 6.9 seconds left but Underwood escaped to tie the match with 2 seconds left after Peters dropped to an ankle. In sudden death, Underwood chose down, escaped and got the victory.
"I know I'm going to see (Peters) again in sectionals in the same kind of match, a grind match, and I'm just going to have to gut it out again," Underwood said.
At 170, Emerson Kersten (20-9) placed second as did Patrick O'Malley (16-8) at 182 for Cary-Grove. Garrett Glueck (26-10) at 152 and Nick Huff (28-11) at 220 registered third place wins.
Crystal Lake South looked to be helping its D-155 rival in the early going. After Cullen and Hanselmann both earned their titles, a pair of Gators, Nick Gil (34-3) at 126 and Eric Barone at 132, won in back-to-back matches over McHenry wrestlers. At 182, South's Brian Pence was just too strong for O'Malley in a 10-0 major decision.
Barone's match came down to the last shot as he led 3-1 and kept trying to turn Brad Ostdick throughout.
"Once I got into the takedown I had to try to turn him if I wanted to win the match," said Barone, now 30-7. "So I kept trying to turn him, turn him, working on turns. Basically I was wrestling my match."
Huntley's Brandon Mabry (31-4) ran into Christian Nugent from Johnsburg at 195 and lost 4-1 in OT while Jacobs' top seed, Austin Ryan (29-2 at 106), feverishly tried his best to come back but lost to Prairie Ridge's Travis Piotrowski 4-2. Jacobs saw Cody Ferencz (24-9) place third at 126.
Ray Griggel's (9-3) quest for state for Dundee-Crown took another right turn in his tough win over McHenry's Luis Hernandezat 220. D-C's Tim Schanmier (24-12) finished second and Jeremy Marhsall (26-11) took third for the Chargers, beating Jeremy Dermont from C-G (25-14).
"So far it's looking real good," said Griggel, who missed much of the season with an injury. "I almost sealed him up in the first period and I just need to get my cardio up. Other than that, I've got my rhythm back."
Sid Carbone (27-15) finished in second at 145 as Grayslake Central's top performer. Carbone will work on his bottom game in hopes of seeing CL Central's Kyle Fugiel again in sectionals.
"He was just able to dominate me on top," Carbone said. "I'll just go into the regionals with high hopes and I'll see him again in sectionals."
Grayslake North had no wrestler crack the top 3 in any weight class, but Austin Cloe (138) took away a fourth-place finish.
Huntley (143) placed fifth and Jacobs sixth (104.50). Dundee-Crown was a half-point behind for seventh and Grayslake Central (10th), Hampshire (11th) and Grayslake North (12th), Woodstock (40) and Woodstock North (33) rounded out the standings.