Hunter Rollins put the finishing touches on a brilliant regular season before a packed house.
With a brave effort during a gripping contest, Rollins struck late to seal his passage into next weekend's Class 3A wrestling state tournament.
In doing so, Rollins won his third straight sectional crown. He's the first to do so since Barrington began hosting in 2009.
The No. 3-rated Hersey senior outlasted No. 4 Kayne MacCallum (40-3) of Libertyville in the third OT period of the 160-pound final Saturday.
Rollins, along with seven others from the Mid-Suburban League, earned their trips to the Assembly Hall in Champaign, where preliminary matches start Thursday.
"I knew (MacCallum) would be coming after me," said Rollins, who during the holiday defeated the superb Libertyville junior 7-1 during the prestigious two-day Dvorak tournament in Rockford. "We had a little something going because of that match, and I am sure he wanted to get the best of me today. So it was a heck of a match, and one that I knew was important to win in order to give myself a top-four seed heading into the state tournament."
Neither Rollins nor MacCallum gave an inch as it was tied 3-3 after the first period and 6-6 after the second.
MacCallum got his first lead at 8-7 before Rollins equalized to send this final into OT.
Once there, they each shared reversals to make it 10-10 before Rollins closed out the reigning NSC and regional champ with just six seconds remaining in the third extra session.
"It was a neck-wrench, and I wasn't going to let up until it was over," said Rollins, who watched his good friend and teammate Matt Korff (170, 30-11) fall one victory short of joining his mate in Champaign.
Korff, a senior, easily won his first two wrestleback bouts, before Nicholas Whitehead (Zion-Benton) earned a 12-5 decision.
Downstate dreams came true for Barrington's Mark Shealy (182) and Ben Calamari (285), as both finished atop the podium in the final competition on their home mats.
"To see how many guys have come and gone in our program, and to have an opportunity to finish up at home and with a sectional championship is really something else," said Shealy, who came through with a calm, cool effort to defeat Joey Welsh (Rockton Hononegah, 36-10) in an ironic twist of wrestling fate. Shealy lost to Welsh here one year ago in a state-qualifying match.
"It's kind of crazy how it all came full circle, isn't it?" said Shealy, who will make his first trip downstate along with teammate Miguel Camarena (26-13) who finished second at 120 pounds.
Calamari will make his second consecutive downstate appearance. His workmanlike 5-3 victory over Jared Carlton (Harlem, 26-9) gave the Broncos' big man his third straight postseason title.
"I agree with Shealy, it's great to win your last match of your high school career at home, but now it's time to get ready for the state tournament," said the senior, whose record now stands at 34-7.
Danger lurked in the water at 132-pounds, but area seniors Kevin Conrad (Barrington) and Brian Egan (Buffalo Grove) survived.
For a third straight week, Conrad (32-13) was involved in a dramatic ending, this time a 3-2 victory over a high-profile opponent in Abel Rios (Zion Benton, 31-2) in a state qualifying match.
"When you looked at the brackets and how things would probably shake down, it really didn't look very good for me if I kept winning in wrestlebacks," said Conrad, who would have faced either Rios or No. 3 Doug Johnson (DeKalb, 39-1). It ended up being Rios after Johnson overwhelmed the fine Z-B senior in the semis. "But I've been here before in the postseason, first in my MSL final and then last week at regionals, so I guess I am ready for just about everything right now."
Conrad heads to Champaign for the second consecutive season. So does Egan (36-2), who faced Johnson early on during a nasty quarterfinal ride which sent the Bison captain into wrestlebacks. There, Egan won twice before closing out 2011 state qualifier Israel Santiago (Warren) to earn a trip to Champaign.
"That match with (Gresh) Henderson (Lake Zurich, 37-7) before my qualifying match had me a little worried," said Egan, who later defeated Conrad 10-1 to grab third-place honors, "but once I got past him I knew my chance to get back downstate would be a little easier."
Broncos senior Coord Wiseman (29-7) had to come back through the consolation bracket to get back downstate once again at 145. So did Prospect big man Shola George (42-3), who survived a 3-2 match with Dan Haeffele (Grant, 33-7) to free himself of an ultra-deep and talented group at 285 pounds.