Jered Cortez has never tasted defeat since arriving at Glenbard North.
"I'm not sure what the school record is (for consecutive wins)," Glenbard North wrestling coach Mark Hahn said. "I think (Cortez) is close to 80 in a row."
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The Panthers are unquestionably the benchmark when it comes to largest-class wrestling in Illinois.
Glenbard North has won 14 consecutive DuPage Valley Conference championships; the number of regional titles captured in succession stands at 12.
The Panthers have not dropped a conference dual meet in 15 years.
Hahn, who has coached Glenbard North for 25 years, has produced 16 state champions and accrued more than 500 dual-meet wins.
Cortez, who captured a Class 2A championship as a freshman at Marmion, has run the table the last two years.
"(Cortez) makes it look effortless out there," Hahn said of his prized junior, the consensus top-ranked 126-pounder in the state. "He has an abundance of mat time. When you combine athletic ability with experience -- and also include work ethic -- (Cortez) has it all."
Glenbard North has three other wrestlers who will undoubtedly influence the state series in more ways than one.
Brian Murphy, who guided the Panthers to the Class 8A state finals as quarterback, is not only a reigning state runner-up but also holds the distinction of being the top-ranked wrestler in Class 3A at 152 pounds.
Glenbard North has become synonymous with excellence in the sport at the lower weights; Jon Marmaolego and Johnny Gosinski are both state contenders at 120 and 132 pounds, respectively.
The Panthers, whose 12-5 dual-meet record is terribly deceiving due to eight starters arriving late due to football, hope to meet either Sandburg or top-ranked Oak Park-River Forest in the dual-meet state series.
"It's a big difference between December and February," Hahn said of a one-sided loss to Sandburg, which defeated Glenbard North in the state semifinals last season en route to the championship over Oak Park-River Forest.
Hilltoppers looking for an upset:
Glenbard West discovered the hard way recently that Oak Park-River Forest is as good as advertised.
In the midst of a program-setting record for most dual-meet wins at 19, the Hilltoppers were overpowered by the Huskies in their recent West Suburban Silver matchup.
"We wrestled (OPRF) pretty tough, but we didn't have the firepower they have," Glenbard West coach Nick Posegay said.
For fellow local Silver programs such as York, Downers North and Hinsdale Central, the future is even scarier.
"I think (OPRF) is even better than their (2009 state championship) team," Posegay said. "They have 12 of their top 14 wrestlers coming back, so they are going to be even better next year."
The Hilltoppers, who are led by returning state qualifier Zak Hassan at 126 pounds, C.J. Sojka (120 pounds), Collin Knowlton (160) and Bernie Gallegos (220), seek their 20th dual-meet win on the season Friday when state-ranked Hinsdale Central pays a visit to Glen Ellyn.
"We are going to give them a battle," Posegay said of the Red Devils' looming arrival. "If there is going to be an upset in the conference, it will be this Friday."
Warriors looking for league title:
Waubonsie Valley has the upper-hand to add a new plaque to its trophy case with a win over Bartlett.
Reversing a Christmas-time loss to sister school Neuqua Valley at the DeKalb bracketed dual-meet tournament, the Warriors can clinch their first wrestling conference championship in 15 years with a win in the Upstate Eight Valley on Friday.
"That's one of the things we talked about since the end of last year," Waubonsie Valley coach Brad Caldwell said of the Warriors' potential first conference championship since 1998. "It was one of our goals."
The Warriors powered past Neuqua Valley in the schools' recent dual with three straight pins to close their 45-24 victory.
"I don't have any huge superstars, but we're pretty strong as a team," Caldwell said. "We're probably a better dual-meet team than a tournament team."
Jimmy Davis is the Warriors' senior stalwart at 132 pounds; the returning state qualifier is 32-3 on the season.
Howard Beatty, 27-4 at 138 pounds, Jake Laws (160 pounds) and Anthony Touchstone (220) are the other key performers for Waubonsie Valley.
Don't forget the Wildcats:
Neuqua Valley is far from finished for the season despite its recent dual-meet loss to its Aurora counterpart.
Mick Reuttiger has produced nine state finalists as the only coach in program history at the south Naperville school.
Connor Swier and Andrew Geers have the distinction of elite status in their respective weight classes.
"Swier and Geers are wrestling very well," Reuttiger said. "(Swier) has all three phases (neutral, on top and bottom) of wrestling going for him. (Geers) wants to go out and pin everybody."
Geers, a two-time heavyweight state medal-winner, has only Hinsdale Central junior Brian Allen ahead of him in the state rankings at 285 pounds.
The two prized offensive linemen in football had some legendary encounters last year in the state series.
But the IHSA ensured their next meeting could take place only at the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall in February.
"We won't see Allen until the state tournament," Ruettiger said.
Rowland is rolling:
Like Cortez at Glenbard North, Willowbrook senior Danny Rowland is yet another former Marmion wrestler enjoying a banner season.
"(Rowland) has (attracted) a lot of (collegiate) interest," Willowbrook coach Bryan Murphy said. "He wants to take (official) visits after the season is over."
The 170-pound senior is ranked second in the state; his only loss was incurred at Granite City to an out-of-state opponent.
Rowland, just like his former teammate Cortez, claimed top honors at Dvorak over the holidays.
"I think it's harder to win Dvorak than Granite City," Murphy said.
Willowbrook, should it escape Downers South this week, is on a collision course with fellow West Suburban Gold unbeaten Addison Trail next week.
The Warriors' other top guns are freshman Matt Rowland (126 pounds), Jake Kroeger (182), Dan Draski (220) and Nick Duda (152), all of whom have either surpassed or are hovering around 30 wins.
The elder Rowland leads the team with his 34-1 record.