Heading to Champaign next weekend? Your probabilities of running into a few young men with bleached blonde hair are looking strong.
And when you do, you will have found Glenbard North's 7 state-qualified wrestlers, all hoping for individual state titles and traditionally wearing the hairdos.
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Success for the Panthers came easy at the Class 3A Maine East sectional Saturday afternoon as Jon Marmolejo (120 pounds), Jered Cortez (126) and Brian Murphy (152) all grabbed first-place wins in their respective weight classes, while Jimique Davis at 160 took second place, Patrick Augstyn (106) and Johnny Gosinski (132) placed third and Colton Wegner (170) sneaked into Champaign in fourth place.
"We brought 10 guys here, seven got out and I can remember when we'd be happy if we got one guy out," said Panthers' coach Mark Hahn. "To get seven guys out that's pretty good. We had five in the finals, pretty good tournament, all the way around."
Hahn went on to salute all his boys, including Cortez, who was unhappy about his 5-2 win that put him at 44-0 for the season.
"I held back a lot, kind of wrestled real conservative. The match didn't go the way I wanted it to go," said Cortez. "I have a lot more in the gas tank. Next week, I'm really going to crank it up and hopefully get me a bracket board. "
He might be working out with Marmolejo, who won his match 2-1 over Matthew Rundell of Oak Park-River Forest. Marmolejo earned 2 points on a takedown he's been working on to steal the win after Rundell escaped with 40 seconds left to take a 1-0 lead in the third period.
"I'm not at my peak yet which is why I am going to go back to practice tomorrow morning to work on the things to I need to work on," said Marmolejo, who mentioned possible cardio work Saturday night along with a mantra for next week in a reappearance downstate. "This year it's going to be no regrets. I want to win it, I want the title more than anybody else in my bracket. I practice so much harder than everyone else. I know I have."
His teammate Murphy (34-1) won an 8-3 decision over OPRF's Kamall Bey (26-4), who had great balance throughout.
"He had great balance but I had to find a way to get him off balance," Murphy said as he was pushed hard on a shrug. "I've got to win it next week, that's the only goal I've had this season and it's been on my mind the whole time. It's got to be done."
The Panthers were 2-1 head-to-head against wrestlers from Oak Park-River Forest, which had 4 first-place finishers and 7 second placers.
But not to be outdone, the wrestlers from Glenbard East will send 7 to Champaign.
The Rams had Shane Vincent (220) and Fuentez (106), who had a broken ankle earlier in the season, advance. He'll look for redemption next week after being pinned by Robert Campos (36-8) of Oak Park at 3:28 after Fuentez was rolled over as his hips weren't down while having Campos in the reverse basement.
"I feel pretty good considering I'm coming off an (right ankle) injury, I didn't wrestle the first half of the season," Fuentez said. "I guess I'm not satisfied but I'll take qualifying for state by getting second."
Five others Rams qualified for state, including Anfarnee Rodgers (113), Dayton Olson (120), Jake Drew (126), Josh Martin (138) and D'Andre Johnson (285), all of whom took fourth place.
Wheaton North's Kegan Calkins (113) and Kellen Cleveland (195) took firsts and Calkins' match might have been the loudest in the Maine East Field house.
Calkins, who was flipped and thrown around early, came from behind to beat Oak Park's Gabriel Townsell 9-6 in the final seconds after Townsell threw him around in the early going.
"He's a strong kid, I knew he could throw, he caught me off guard," said Calkins. "But I showed him I can throw, too."
Cleveland wrestled Oak Park's Andre Lee and came with the right firepower in the final minute after being down 1-0 with 1:44 left in the match.
"I was more worried about getting scored on. He's a phenomenal wrestler," said Cleveland, who placed fourth at state last year. "It does not feel good. Last year I showed up and it was so much hype, just a big state, so it's so hard to perform. I got killed first round. I was just not ready."
Sean Murray (138) placed second and Kaelen Bradford (182) took third for the Rams.
If you're not impressed with the 145 championship win by Lake Park's Austin Schoen, a 2-1 triumph in overtime over Oak Park-River Forest's John Gahgan, where Schoen stayed strong on the ground in the final second to preserve the win, his preparation might surprise you.
"I like to listen to classical music or very soothing music before my matches," said the 35-3 Schoen, who is best friends with Bartlett's Sal Annoreno and had been in 3 triple overtimes this year. "I like to keep my heartrate low and that's how I plan to win state. Low heart equals as much success as possible."
Schoen returns to state and he has a message for his pal Annoreno: "I'm ready to go down there and win it all. My best friend won it last year, I have to top him this year."
Willowbrook's Dan Draski (43-5) won the 220 weight class over Shane Vincent of Glenbard East 8-1 and Dan Rowland (46-0) won the 170-pound weight class over Allen Stallings of Oak Park-River Forest in a 2-0 decision. West Chicago's John Carlos (285) placed third with his 5-1 decision over Glenbard East's D'Andrew Johnson, who was 37-8, and Addison Trail's Nike Rocha (37-5) placed third by defeating Marco Orlandi from Niles Norte Dame 11-4.
Three Schaumburg wrestlers grabbed third-place trophies, in Luke Gruszka (145), Matt Stopka (195) and Sadarriss Patterson (160), whose single-leg, hands and cow-ties were working a lot in what led to his first trip to state with a 9-2 decision over Brad Kerbey of St. Charles East.
"No matter who I've got, I go out hard and make the match mine," said Patterson, who improved to 23-4. "We all wrestled hard, I'm proud of everybody. Even after a big loss, we all came back and fought hard."
Conant's Bobby Alexander (120) and Mitch Alexander (152) also came away with third-place wins.
St. Charles East's Isaiah Vela (132) had his work cut out for him, going against undefeated Larry Early of Oak Park-River Forest. Vela (35-4) not only lost in a very tight 4-3 decision, he suffered a bloody lip to boot.
"He's a good wrestler and all, but I just need to finish off strong and finish the match the way I want to," said Vela (35-4), who lost in the regional and placed fourth in state as a freshman. "Hopefully the next time I see him, hopefully I come out on top."
Saints Ryan Rubino (106), Keone Derain (145) and Brad Kerbey (160) all salvaged fourth-place trophies to move downstate while St. Charles North's Wes Pasholk (29-6) was the lone North Star to advance by placing fourth at 220.
The pressure was on defending state champ Sal Annoreno from Bartlett in the 138-pound weight class after losing in the semis to eventual champion Steve Galiardo (42-1) from St. Patrick 6-5. Annoreno had to beat Jake O'Mara from Oak Park-River Forest to get back to Champaign, which he did 4-3 in a close match where Annoreno almost lost it at the end. He finished off Josh Martin of Glenbard East 9-0 in a major decision for third place, but there's unfinished business.
'There's pressure," Annoreno said of losing in the early rounds as a defending champ and having to recover without a mistake. "As long as I'm at state, anything could happen."
Elgin's Richie Santana (195) and Jeffery Morrow (106) both placed fifth and will not advance.
Santana had a fighting chance trying to get to qualify for state when he escaped from Matt Stopka of Schaumburg with 30 seconds left to tie it at 5 but Stopka was awarded 2 points late on a reversal and Santana couldn't recover in time.
"The pressure, it gets to you, you're flustered, you're running out of time. Seconds go by, there's no time to think. I need to know how to handle that and unfortunately it didn't work out for me today," said Santana, who finished 31-5 on the year. "This has been my heart and dream right here. My family has been big on wrestling. I know my skills, and I know where I should be and I think I do deserve to be downstate but life is tough and if you're not ready go, this is what happens and I don't get to do that this year."