With state power Lockport off at the high profile Dvorak Invitational this season and not on the guest list at the Ralph Krupke Wrestling Classic, Conant's wrestling team took full advantage Saturday afternoon at Lake Park' West Campus.
Inspired by a stunning upset by Dan Andress in the finals at 170 pounds, and with help by teammates Bobby Alexander and Kyle Peister, the Cougars passed up the 16-team field to lift the championship trophy with 191.50 points.
Luke Gruszka, Matt Stopka and Hazen Rice (106) earned championship rings for second-place Schaumburg (165.5 points), while the dynamic duo of Nico Rocha and Bobby Carson fueled a third-place finish for Addison Trail with 159 overall points. Jacobs (135) and Naperville North 125.5) rounded out the top five.
"What a terrific team effort the guys gave today," said Conant coach Chad Hay. "We received at least one win from everyone in our lineup today, and we got a good look at teams who will be in our regional later on. Bobby, Kyle and especially Dan all came through to get themselves wins in the finals."
Andress, a junior, was the story during the evening session, when he surprised his MSL counterpart, No. 5 rated Sadarriss Patterson (Schaumburg) with a late 5-point uprising to overcome a 3-0 deficit and capture the 160-pound crown with a 5-3 decision.
"(Sadarriss) is so explosive, so the idea going in was to keep in close, and maybe wait for my chance later on," said Andress, who reversed Patterson, then finished things off with a 3-point near fall, all in the waning seconds of regulation.
"Dan was anywhere between 152-170 for us last year, just helping the team out wherever we needed him," said Hay. "But this year he's at weight, has already matched the (15) wins he had last season, and he's mentally very composed, which is the reason he didn't panic and was able to pull the match out."
Alexander spent just over three and a half minutes on the mats as he cruised to the 132-pound title, recording a trio of falls on the way, including his last over Maine West senior Adeel Afshar.
"Afshar has a very good and quick outside shot, so I circled left, and stayed ready for it," said Alexander, who won here last December.
Addison Trail was 8 points in front of Schaumburg before the semifinal round earlier in the day. But despite the terrific results from Rocha and Carson, the Blazers were unable to hold off the Saxons.
Schaumburg managed four top-two medals. That included an impressive performance from Gruszka who, like Alexander, put away a trio of opponents by fall.
"For me, it's all about getting wins and bonus points for the team in order to win, but with that said, I am still very happy with my championship today," said the senior, who was a state qualifier for the first time last year.
Rocha and Carson were equally dominant, pounding the opposition along the way to victories.
Carson is on a nice little roll after winning his second consecutive tourney challenge, following up on last weekend's victory at the 54th Dick Mudge/McMorrow at Prospect.
The Blazers' big man outlasted Kameran Hardwick of Warren 5-2 in his final.
Rocha bounced back from a bitter last-second defeat in the finals at Prospect to win it all at 182 pounds following an 8-1 decision over Brandon Gilligan of Naperville North.
"That loss might have been the best thing for me, just as it was last year," admitted the affable Rocha, who was reminded that he dropped a similiar decision one year ago at Prospect before bouncing back with a vengeance en route to his trip downstate. "Losing like that helped me get my mindset back in a place where it belongs, and has made me hungry to do well."
The Jacobs duo of Mark Mamola and Cody Ferencz both know what Rocha is talking about.
During the 2012 Krupke, the then-sophomore Ferencz suffered through a miserable day at 126 pounds.
"I was terrible here -- I lost two matches pretty quick and I was out. That was all the motivation I needed coming back here this year," said the Golden Eagles three-year starter, who came back this time around to win it all with a hard-fought 3-2 decision over Danny Madonia of Conant.
"Cody works so hard, all of the time, and after back-to-back losses to the kid from McHenry and Crystal Lake South, he got himself over the hump this weekend with three very good matches to win a title," said Jacobs coach Gary Conrad.
Mamola, who won 32 times a year ago, has only one goal this year: competing on the big mats inside Assembly Hall in late February.
"I believe I can get there, and with all the extra work that I put in (getting) bigger and stronger, I feel it's a very reachable goal," said the senior, who edged Stu Landin of Andrew 1-0 in his 220-pound final.
Maine West sophomore Joey Vogeny gave the Warriors their lone title after a strong six-minute outing at 170 pounds, which ended with a 11-2 major decision over Eric Shurson of Warren.
"I suffered a concussion in my first match at sectionals last season after winning regionals, so I know that I can reach the state tournament this year if I continue to work hard," said Vogeny, who's been dealing with a sore hip from the beginning of the year.
Mundelein grabbed three second-place medals on the day, beginning at the lower weights with Ray Ceniceros (106) and 112-pounder Alec Riportella, and later from Joey Laurie, who lost a heartbreaking 7-6 decision to Joe Vanek (Andrew) at 145 pounds.
The tourney hosting Lancers , which finished sixth overall with 118 points, celebrated second-place finishes from Tyler Vittal (195) and heavyweight Hardwick.