CHAMPAIGN -- With its rich tradition in the sport of wrestling, Marmion Academy, and several of its wrestlers, have cornered the lion's share of publicity during the past few seasons.
But Kaneland senior Dan Goress (145, 40-3) found a way to make a dent in the Cadets' overall press coverage Friday night with his latest work, a remarkable 6-minute performance during the semifinals of the state tournament to advance into tonight's final against Michael Sepke (36-9) after a hard-fought, and well deserved 5-3 triumph over Chase Vosburgh (40-2) of Mt. Vernon.
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The Kaneland star will now compete for the seventh state title in program history, and first since 1993 when Scott Brewer won it all at 145 pounds.
"It's all about hard work," began the low-key Goress.
"It just proves that hard work pays off, and I really feel the commitment I made during the offseason, and the continued time and energy in and out of the room, and with my coaches is the reason that I'll be in the final tomorrow night, and it's something that I cannot wait for."
A second period takedown doubled his lead (4-2) over the No 5 rated Vosburgh, and later, he added a little insurance with an escape to put the icing on the semifinal victory cake.
Goress is the only competitor from the area aside from the Cadets who booked a spot in the Grand March, while a handful of others remain in contention to medal, albeit in the consolation bracket, which began Friday afternoon following the quarterfinal round.
Perhaps the most impressive of all Marmion victories during Friday night's semifinal was that from senior George Fisher (132) in a bout between Nos. 1 and 3, with DeKalb senior Doug Johnson 41-1) looking to leap frog the top-rated Fisher, in his bid to go after his first state title, after finishing third last year at the 2A tournament.
In a brilliantly played match, Fisher (46-4) did what he does best, get a lead, then held onto it, almost flawlessly executed with a strong 2 minutes of riding time during the third period to close out Johnson (3-2) who now finds himself in the consolation bracket for good.
"I've been really working hard on my top position, and today you saw how much of a difference it makes in a match as big as that one was," said Fisher, who goes after his second state title in three years against Larry Early (45-0) the sensational sophomore from Oak Park-River Forest.
Junior Johnny Jimenez (120) cruised into his third final in as many years after a 6-0 shutout of Jon Marmolejo (Glenbard North, 45-4).
The two-time state champ goes for his third straight in what promises to be an entertaining final against Sebastian Pique (Sandburg) himself a three-time state qualifier and state champ two years ago when he was with Hinsdale South.
"I just kind of went about my business out there tonight, nothing fancy, kind of always the same thing," said Jimenez, who ran his overall record to 47-2.
Teammate Alex Fritz (285, 37-14) would avenge two previous OT losses to Ben Calamari (Barrington) in the quarterfinals, but could not stop No. 2 Andrew Geers (Neuqua Valley, 40-0) who is on a collision course with No. 2 Brian Allen (47-0) of Hinsdale Central Saturday night in the final.
Geneva senior Brad Martens (41-9) saw his marvelous career came to an end on Friday when he lost in wrestle-backs. He takes with him a two-year record of 79-19 and two trips downstate.
Isaiah Vela (St. Charles East, 37-5) is alive and well in the 132-pound consolation bracket, as is Andrew Bosco (106), Jake Field (126) and Cody Snodgrass (195) all of Marmion.
Quarterfinal wrestle-backs will begin the third and final day of the tournament today at 9 a.m., followed by the semifinals, to decide who will compete for third- and fifth-place honors at 1 p.m.
The fan favorite Grand March will officially kick off the championship ceremonies at 6:30 p.m., which will lead to the finals immediately following.
This year, a previous blind draw by tournament officials will see the finals start at 170 pounds.