There is little doubt as to which local wrestling program has the most murderous of schedules.
Marmion, the reigning Class 3A state runner-up, is in Wisconsin this weekend for another national tournament, the Cheesehead.
The Cadets have already competed at the Ironman in Ohio and the` unquestioned best in-state tournament of the regular season, the Dvorak at Loves Park Harlem over the holiday break.
Marmion finished third, behind only second-ranked Marist and conference rival Montini, the six-time defending state champion, at Dvorak last week.
"Our schedule is nothing but preparation for the state tournament," Marmion coach Ryam Cumbee said. "I am pleased with our performance thus far. We are competing hard and competing well."
Johnny Jimenez, the Cadets' Wisconsin-bound 126-pounder who has won three straight state championships, earned the lone Marmion title at Dvorak.
The senior was looking for redemption after a poor performance at Ironman; Jimenez dropped three matches to non-Illinois wrestlers at the suburban Cleveland tournament.
"It was good for Johnny (to come back at Dvorak)," Cumbee said. "He is a different wrestler (now) than he was at Ironman."
In a battle between the top-two ranked athletes in Class 3A, Jimenez scored a 13-3 major decision over Glenbard North senior Jon Marmolejo.
Cumbee was particularly pleased with the performances of Nathan Traxler and Nick Ferraro.
The former is ranked third at 182 pounds, and Ferraro, third at Dvrok, is the No. 4 athlete at 170 pounds.
"(Traxler and Ferraro) aren't too far off from a state championship," Cumbee said. "They have to keep working hard."
The chief concern for Cumbee at the moment is the Cadets' collective health.
Marmion is missing five starters to injuries for the Wisconsin tournament this weekend.
"We're just trying to survive right now," Cumbee said. "All of the kids will be back with the exception of Riley DeMoss (lost for the season with a recurring injury first suffered during football season)."
The Cadets' remarkable progress in the last decade-plus -- Marmion did even have a program until after the turn of the century -- is inescapably connected with its primary feeder program, the St. Charles North youth wrestling program.
"The St. Charles (North) youth wrestling program is the backbone of Marmion (wrestling)," Cumbee said. "It has little to do with the talent they produce; the fact that they are good wrestlers is a bonus. They are great students. I have kids deciding between Harvard and the University of Chicago."
Anthony Bosco, the Cadets' North Carolina-bound 113-pounder, was runner-up at Dvorak.
St. Charles East also made its debut at Dvorak last week.
Isaiah Vela, the Saints' four-year star at 138 pounds, dropped is first two matches of the season in settling for sixth place.
Keone Derain, the Saints' returning state qualifier at 152 pounds, and heavyweight Will Leite also placed for St. Charles East, which was 10th in the stacked field.
Geneva rolling in duals: Veteran wrestling coach Tom Arlis, who produced several state champions during his tenure at Naperville North before moving over to Batavia, has historically spoken of the duality of the sport.
The nature of wrestling is such that certain teams fare much better in dual meets than multi-team invites -- or vice versa.
Geneva is a case in point.
The Vikings have won 15 of their 17 dual matches but failed to place a single athlete at the Palatine Tournament over the holidays.
"We had a bad tournament," said Geneva coach Tom Chernich, who said his team 'was definitely" more suited to dual meets.
Colin Parsons (132 pounds), Jordan Soto (138), Brock Perry (152) and Mitch Bradberry (182) were one match away from placing for Geneva at Palatine.
"We have a real balanced lineup (for dual meets)," Chernich said. "We have a lot of good guys, but we don't have anyone who is exceptional. We have a lot of guys who can make it to the sectional."
Geneva and Batavia will both host their annual invites on successive weekends beginning next Saturday.
The Bulldogs are 8-12 in their dual meets after splitting six matches at a bracketed dual tournament at DeKalb over winter break.
The Bulldogs dropped the consolation-championship final to Pewaukee (Wis.) after wins over Grayslake North, Burlington Central and Johnsburg.
Michael Duranski, Connor McKeehan and Noah Frazier have the team leaders at 113, 220 and 195 pounds, respectively.
"We're a young team once again," Batavia coach Scott Bayer said. "We're trying to shore up some technical areas we have been lacking in."
North Stars building for future: St. Charles North has been behind the eight-ball the entire as season as Ben Hummel focuses on increasing numbers in the program.
Bereft of a single senior on the squad, the North Stars are particularly vulnerable in the upper weights.
"We wrestle between seven and 10 guys, depending on the meet," said first-year coach Ben Hummel. "My main focus is building from the ground up. I have some pretty good juniors. I want to keep what we have (and build around) the freshmen and sophomores."
Freshman 106-pounder Kolbe O'Brien was the lone North Star to place at their main holiday tournament: the 17-team Lake Park Invitational.
Knights eye 3rd: Kaneland is 9-6 in its dual meets, and the Knights also competed at the Palatine Berman Classic.
Dane Good enough (138 pounds), Tom Price (171) and heavyweight Justin Diddell placed for the Knights at Palatine.
In the Northern Illinois Big XII East, the Knights had a major victory over Sycamore to start the season. But one-sided losses to Yorkville and DeKalb have coach Monty Jahns harboring realistic goals for the remainder of the season.
"Our goal is to beat Rochelle and Morris (for third place) in the conference," said Jahns.
Jahns is in his final year with the Knights.
The 1981 Kaneland graduate, who has served six years in his current position after five seasons as an assistant, planned to retire after last season.
But Jahns returned when a suitable replacement failed to materialize.
"(Kaneland officials) were searching for options but couldn't find any," Jahns said.
West Aurora brothers win titles: West Aurora siblings Isaac and Carlos Jaqcuez both won individual titles at the robust Granite City Invitational prior to the new year.
Isaac, a freshman 106-pounder, and his senior brother, who ended the season-long 23-match winning streak of Plainfield East senior Miguel Silva in the championship match at 113 pounds, are both nearing 30 wins on the season.
Isaac Jacquez is ranked seventh in his weight class, and Carlos Jacquez moved up to the fourth position at 113 pounds.