CHAMPAIGN -- Tom Nance, his coaching staff, and even the teammates of Wauconda's super 220-pounder Nate Magiera spent the entire week putting together the perfect tactical plan.
The idea was to have everything in order for a test against No. 1-ranked Edgar Ruano. Magiera, who'd only lost to Ruano this season, was rated No. 2 in the state.
But then, 22 seconds into the Class 2A champoionship match under the bright lights in Champaign, Magiera blew apart all that preparation.
And boy, is Nance thrilled that happened.
When at his best, Magiera is capable of humbling anyone -- even Ruano -- and Saturday night, that's exactly what the Bulldogs senior did.
With a magnificent display of power and skill, Magiera used every weapon in his arsenal to throttle Ruano 17-4 and capture the state championship trophy. It's the school's first since Scott Carlson won in 2009 at 152 pounds.
"All I can say is wow," said Nance, who was astounded by the six-minute performance his four-year veteran had just unleashed to avenge a 3-1 sectional final to Ruano. "We spent a lot of time breaking that match down, then just beating Nate up all week long with our heavyweight, and finally scripting the way we thought we could beat (Ruano) if both of those guys made it through.
"But it was kind of funny to see those opening moments, and Nate getting in on him and scoring. And I thought to myself, 'Oh well,' and he never let up until the match was over."
The unassuming Magiera roared through the field over the three days, finishing off yet another opponent in the semis with a fall to run his record to 47-1 in advance of lifting the trophy over the Montini senior, who was third in the state last year, and entered the final with a 35-2 record.
"I came down here to watch Carlson win his title, and I thought then that I'd want to be the next kid from Wauconda to make that climb up the podium steps to accept a state title," said Magiera. "And this week, everyone on my team was there to help and support me, while our big guys treated me like a crash dummy getting me ready for this final."
Magiera hounded and hammered from all quarters as he built a 6-2 lead after four minutes before blowing things open by putting Ruano on his back on three occasions in the final period.
"It's so important to our program for me to succeed, and to set an example for others, especially the young guys just coming in," Magiera said. "But I have to say it's exciting to win, and I am really proud of this accomplishment."
"That's Nate," said Nance. "He's one classy young man, who carries himself so well, and is a great teammate. He has the support of a great family, which shines through when something like this happens."
Steve Polakowski (42-2) led a huge haul of state medals for his Libertyville, but the senior was unable to bring home the biggest of them all late Saturday.
Polakowski had been brilliant in every area of his game, showing no obvious weakness until No. 1 Kris Williams (31-0) of Thornwood proved the only one able to turn the tables on the powerfully built Wildcat with six minutes of matching strength to earn a 2-1 OT victory and win a third consecutive title.
"(Williams) was so strong and quick, and he put us on the defensive from the very beginning," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. " Steve just wasn't able to find a way to break him down in order to get into his game, which he has been so successful at the entire year and this postseason."
Williams started down after a scoreless first period, and after slipping free for a 1-point escape, he went to work on slowing the pace to grinding hault while keeping Polakowski tied up as best as he could. That included taking an early stall warning while giving up a penalty point with a figure-four illegal hold late in the second period to even things at 1-1.
"We thought Steve could get out, and to be honest, I felt another stall could have been called in that third period which would have given us the lead, but things didn't work out in the end. And it's obvious why he's a three-time champ, don't you think?"
The psychological resilience Emery Parker displayed all season is something that ensured his success downstate. So confident was Parker that he proclaimed ahead of time that he'd end up winning a title.
And if not for No. 1 Kamal Bey (39-2) of Oak Park-River Forest, the promise Parker made to himself probably would have come true.
Instead, the Huskies' sensational sophomore had too much striking power, outscoring Parker 10-5 to take top honors while coach Jim Ouimette's standout finished second overall. "What an amazing season Emery had, despite the result in the final tonight," said the Warren coach. "Bey was a tough kid who was so explosive, but Emery gave it his best, and it just wasn't enough tonight."
Ouimette said Parker's stock rose when he enrolled in the Mike Poeta camp, with the former Highland Park and Illinois superstar effecting an immediate change. Parker arrived as a pudgy freshmen who just liked to throw guys around, but evolved into a finely tuned machine who won his first varsity tournament this season before taking off to another level.
"He won the NSC, regional and sectional championships almost easily, and he came in here and won his first three to get into the final and allow me to wear a suit and be in the Grand March," Ouimette said. "It doesn't get much better than that."
Joining Libertyville's medal haul was senior Kayne MacCallum (44-6), who grabbed a third-place trophy in his third and final visit to Champaign.
Chris McDermand (40-5) was unable to reach a third-place finish, falling just short after dropping an 11-3 decision to Nick Allegretti (Lincoln-Way East, 45-2) who was the consensus No. 2 rated heavyweight all season long behind Brian Allen of Hinsdale Central.
"I obviously would have liked to be wrestling Saturday night for the title, but in a group like this one (here) which is easily one of the top 16-man brackets in the nation, I feel very good about a fifth-place finish," said the American University-bound McDermand.
Libertyville junior Joey Gunther (38-9) garnered a sixth-place medal following a 3-2 loss to Trace Carello (39-7) of Marmion Academy.
Just when Grant senior Nick Koch looked down and out this weekend, the Bulldogs' star 113-pounder rose up to surprise an opponent -- as well as coach Ryan Geist -- to earn his second straight state medal.
"Nick was in trouble and fighting for his life a couple of times this weekend, but he battles so hard, and he just found a way to pick himself up and get the points he needed to advance," said Geist. "The bottom line is I am very proud of him, and what a great career he's had at Grant for himself."
Koch finished 77-18 over the past two seasons.
Vernon Hills senior Jordan Reich concluded his career on a high note after a third-place finish at 120 pounds following a perfect 3-0 record in the consolation bracket.
"I though I wrestled really well against Kyle (Akins, Sycamore) in my semifinal, but I came up short (3-1) against a guy who is better than me," said Reich, who will wrestle next fall at Princeton. "But I feel I saved my best for last in wrestlebacks, and it feels great to leave here with my second straight third-place finish in Champaign."
Antioch did quite well for itself, reeling in two medals. One came from senior Briley Schultz (35-7 at 106 pounds, sixth place) and another from George Bessette (41-7), who came on strong in the consolation bracket to earn a fourth-place medal at 195 pounds.
"I am very happy and thrilled for Briley, who gets a well deserved state medal in his final year with us, and just really pleased and excited for George and Patrick Schoenfelder (35-10), who was one win from from the medal round, and as freshmen give us a lot of hope for next year," said Antioch coach Wilbur Borrero.