CHAMPAIGN -- Five years after the last Illinois athlete completed a four-year sweep of state championships, Johnny Jimenez had the massive crowd at the University of Illinois' State Farm Center on its feet.
The Marmion senior became the 12th wrestler in the 77-year history of the state tournament to win championships all four years with his Class 3A 126-pound 5-1 victory over Glenbard North senior Jon Marmolejo Saturday night.
Only minutes after the Wisconsin-bound Jimenez achieved the feat, former teammate Jered Cortez of Glenbard North and Dakota superman Josh Alber duplicated the career achievement with their victories in the Class 3A and 1A 132-pound divisions.
"The state finals match (against Marmalejo) means so much more to me," said Jimenez, the only wrestler to defeat the Panthers' four-time DuPage Valley Conference champion this season. "It was a tough match. I have been wrestling (Marmolejo) since I was five years old. Coming out, I was really nervous with all the pressure (of a potential fourth title)."
Jimenez struck first with a takedown midway through the opening period and added an escape in the second period.
Marmolejo scored with less than a minute to go, but Jimenez salted away his historic win with another takedown two seconds before the final buzzer.
"Keep the score close, and good things happen," Marmolejo said of his strategy. "It didn't happen this time. I felt more focused on defending his (shots than at Dvorak, where Jimenez handed Marmolego his only other loss)."
Cortez and Alber were well aware of the championship template Jimenez forged minutes before their matches.
"I am going to give Johnny a hug," Cortez said.
"I am good friends with Johnny," said Alber, who become the first four-time undefeated wrestler in state history. "I have been wrestling Johnny since I was in third grade. He is the greatest competitor there is."
Aurora Central Catholic senior Eddie Gonzalez was also poised to make history.
But the Chargers' heavyweight was completely overmatched for the second time this season against defending Class 1A state champion Josh Wallick.
The Gibson City senior scored 4 quick points and then turned Gonzalez for the second first-period fall of the year for the championship.
"He was able to shoot on me," Gonzalez said of his early deficit.
Gonzalez is the second medal-winner in program history, joining his older brother Jesus.
"I am pretty happy with what I have done," Gonzalez said.
Of the five Marmion wrestlers in the consolation finals, Nick Ferraro was the lone Cadet to secure a win.
The 170-pounder defeated Mt. Carmel sophomore Dru Worker for the third time this season for fifth place.
"I am looking forward to wrestling him again," Ferraro said of the almost-certain meeting Tuesday night with Mt. Carmel at the Marist team sectional. "I feel like I could have done better."
The Cadets' Trace Carello (152 pounds), Nathan Traxler (182), Josh Meyers (195) and Lucas Warren (220) dropped their final matches of the three-day tournament.
But the quintet still managed all-state status.
Warren ended the career of Batavia 220-pounder Connor McKeehan with a first-period fall in the consolation semifinals, only to drop a 3-2 verdict to Edwardsville senior Matt Kent in the third-place match.
"I feel I did the best I could for missing the whole (regular) season," Warren said. "I came out flat. Other than that, I feel like I pretty much controlled the match."
Top-ranked Oak Park-River Forest led the Class 3A field with four champions; Montini crowned five of their nine finalists in 2A.