Marmion, Kaneland wrestlers state titles
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CHAMPAIGN — Johnny Jimenez placed himself in rarefied air, and George Fisher had perhaps the most stunning verdict on the championship night of the Class 3A individual wrestling state tournament Saturday night at the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall.
In the process, the two Marmion athletes continued the Cadets' remarkable string of individual state titles in recent years.
Jimenez, who was pitted against fellow two-time state finalist Sebastian Picque of Sandburg in the Class 3A 120-pound finals, outlasted the former state champion from Hinsdale South 3-0 to capture his third consecutive state championship.
The junior won titles in the middle-tier division of the three-class state tournament as an underclassmen the last two years.
Jimenez earned the whitewash victory with a first-period takedown and second-period escape to score the only points of the match.
"I didn't want to settle for two (state titles)," Jimenez said. "The state finals I am a little more cautious. I just kept shooting and shooting. I just never stop wrestling. I'm going to start working toward a fourth (state championship) next week."
Fisher, also making a third straight appearance in the finals, took far less time in his 132-pound showdown against Oak Park-River Forest sophomore Larry Early.
The Huskies' standout entered the championship with a season-long 45-match unbeaten streak.
Fisher claimed first blood with an early takedown and then preceded to induce a crowd-gasping maneuver that suddenly terminated the match with 15 seconds remaining in the opening period.
In what proved to be the only pin of the combined 28 championship matches in the two upper classes, Fisher made what coach Ryan Cumbee referred to as "a textbook move."
The Michigan-bound senior, who dropped a heart-wrenching loss last year in the championship after claiming one of five state titles for Marmion has a sophomore, ended his prep career in stunning fashion by dropping Early.
"It's something we have been working on all the time of late," Cumbee said. "That's a headlock into a near-side cradle."
Early struggled to break free, only to have Fisher claim his second career title with the shockingly easy first-period win.
"Most of the time I don't go for a cradle," Fisher said. "(Former state titlist) Angelo (Silvestro) told me to go out with a bang. I went for the cradle. I just knew (Early) was a tough kid from Oak Park."
The Cadets' fourth consecutive season of producing multiple state champions was forged by a fierce will to win between the two practice room partners.
"(Jimenez) and George will literally go for 20 minutes without either one getting a takedown," Cumbee said.
Marmion had two other athletes make the medal round.
Bookend team members Anthony Bosco was fourth at 106 pounds, and Alex Fritz was sixth at heavyweight.
"It was definitely a little disappointing not to be in the finals," Bosco said.
"The boys who didn't achieve their goals this weekend definitely learned invaluable lessons," Cumbee said.
Jimenez and Fisher ended their individual seasons — the Cadets are still alive in the team state series — with 95 combined victories; Jimenez enters the Hinsdale South sectional Tuesday with a 48-2 record, while Fisher is 47-4.
Danny Goress also ended his career at Kaneland with a cherished final effort.
Five-time defending team state champion Montini had eight finalists in Class 2A, but Goress was little phased in capturing the Knights' first state championship since 1993.
Michael Sepke was the top seed for the Broncos at 145 pounds. But Goress was not about to be denied in his third career state appearance.
The Knights' four-year standout broke a scoreless first-period tie with a quick escape and takedown in the second period.
Sepke escaped Goress midway through the third period, and Goress was assessed a stalling penalty point.
But it would be the last point the Broncos' senior would score as Goress held on dearly for a 3-2 victory.
"I knew I had to score fast (to start the second) to gain control of the match," Goress said. "Every kid's dream is to be a state champ. I have dreamed about this since freshman year. Hard work is everything."
"(Goress) was so confident this weekend," Kaneland coach Monty Jahns said. "He was so in his game. He took one match at a time. He has matured so much since last year."
Goress improved to 43-3 with the win.
Kaneland senior Zach Theiss ended his heavyweight career with a fifth-place win at 285 pounds.
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