For the second consecutive weekend, Barrington found a novel way to win.
The latest came Saturday, when the Broncos saved their best performance for last -- in the person of Ben Calamari.
After their sensational final round at last Saturday's Mid-Suburban League tournament that broke open a tight race en route to a third straight title, the Broncos rode a dramatic victory from Calamari in the final bout of a marathan Class 3A Lake Zurich regional to edge Deerfield by 1.5 points and capture a spot in the dual-team sectional later this month against Grant.
Calamari delivered the coup de grace after Deerfield moments earlier took the lead away from the Broncos -- 191.5 to 189 -- on a pin from heavyweight JJ Nawrot in his third-place match.
"I figured that big lead we had built was all but gone, but who would have figured the team title would come down to the last match of the day," said Calamari (31-7), who earned a 12-7 decision over Jeramey Dermont (26-15) of Cary-Grove to win the 285-pound title and provide the 193 to 191.5 final margin of the team victory.
"We knew it would be a battle until the end," said Barrington coach Ken Hoving. "Both Cary-Grove and Deerfield are class programs, with great coaching staffs and tremendous wrestlers, so we feel very fortunate to come away with the championship today. But it truly all happened because of our senior leadership and another all-around team effort which helped us get important points and wins to get us past two teams."
The Broncos saw their lead slowly slip away after going 0-for-3 in the middle weights, while Deerfield responded with a first-place medal at 170 pounds from Colton Emmerich (33-8) and a third-place finish at 152.
But Hoving praised four seniors who helped steady the Broncos' ship, including Calamari, Miguel Camarena (120, 24-12), Kevin Conrad (132, 29-11) and Mark Shealy (182, 33-6), Each garnered a championship and earned a coveted first-round sectional bye.
"I would gladly have given (up) my individual title for a team championship today, but to get both makes it all that more special for me," said Shealy, who beat Ned Valtchev of Stevenson in the 182-pound final. "It's a testament to this team and our program to come back one year after losing so many great wrestlers and still be able to win back-to-back championships. I am just happy to be a part of it all."
Coach Ryan Ludwig of Cary-Grove, which advanced 8 wrestlers to the Barrington sectional, saw his Trojans stay within striking distance most of the meet and finish with 175 points,
"It's kind of hard to be so close two weeks in a row, and falling short once again," said Ludwig, whose Trojans were runners-up to McHenry in the Fox Valley Conference tournament. "We fought hard today and the effort was way up there from the guys. That's something you have to appreciate and be proud of, regardless of where you are in the final standings."
The Trojans were paced by sophomore Michael Cullen (39-0) who dominated the field at 113 pounds en route to his cutting-edge work in the finals -- which resulted with a fall over Highland Park's Nate Kessler (18-3) at 1:11.
"Kessler was a good opponent and he came out aggressively, and that's the type of challenge that I am looking forward to with the sectionals coming up next weekend," said Cullen, the state's No. 4-rated 113-pounder heading into the regional.
Teammate Nick Huff (30-11), who was third at the FVC tourney, outlasted Barrington junior Jack Bornhofen (30-9) with a 3-1 overtime win to snare the Trojans' second crown.
"It felt good to win here today, and I really feel like I have a good chance next weekend to do well and get downstate," Huff said.
Teammates John Cullen (106, 31-10), Logan Hanselmann (120, 30-7) and Patrick O'Malley (182, 19-9) were all forced to make the long journey through wrestlebacks to secure a sectional berth.
The Trojans' Michael Underwood (138) Garrett Glueck (152) and Matt Hughes (160) were unable to win their respective finals. Glueck (28-11) and Underwood (36-8) were victimized by Lake Zurich's Sean Lynch (18-3) and Brandon Arteaga (35-4), who can add regional crowns to the North Suburban Conference titles they won last week.
"I feel like I am just about where I want to be right now," said Lynch, also a sectional qualifier last season. "I am back in form after getting a late start from football and as healthy as I've ever been at this time of the year, and really looking forward to sectionals."
The Bears' dynamic duo will be joined by Nick Tuthill (145, 30-12), Gresh Henderson (132, 35-6) and Nick Tuthill (145, 30-12), who all fought back after suffering earlier heartbreaking defeats.
Tuthill was caught in between a battle royale at 145 pounds between two of the best in the state, NSC rival Justin Weber (Stevenson, 36-2) and Barrington's Coord Wiseman (24-6).
Both cruised into the finals. But once there, it was all Weber, whose six-minute, 15-6 major decision was absolutely brilliant, much to the delight of the Patriots faithful who were dressed in Green Giant green with an extra-large letter "S'"in the middle of T-shirts.
"Justin is a man on a mission, and his desire to get to the top of podium later this month is one of things that is really driving him right now," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook, who will lead five others beside Weber into the sectionals.
"It was very good when you can get six through out of a regional like this one which was so tough. We've had our ups and downs along the way and lost some tough duals here and there, but the hard work these guys have put in really showed today."
The Patriots prevailed at the upper weights, with Ryan Mass (160, 20-8), Ian Burns (170, 29-10) and Jay Feldman (195, 15-14) all grinding it out through wrestlebacks to stay alive for another week.
Palatine senior Rocky Allen (195, 24-9) was the lone Pirate to advance, after his second-place finish to Jim Kirby (30-9) of Deerfield.
Buffalo Grove's undefeated No. 1 seed Brian Egan (132) saw his perfect record come to an abrupt end after Barrington senior Kevin Conrad beat the senior 4-3 in a nail-biter. At last week's MSL tournament, Conrad's thrill-ride overtime victory over Conant's Benny Clifford was one the highlights.
"Two straight matches like this is really amazing, especially when they come against two great opponents in Benny and today, Brian," Conrad said.
Egan held a 3-1 lead in the closing seconds of regulation, before Conrad suddenly turned the Bison star to record a 3-point near fall for the victory as time ran out.
"I felt like I was losing my grip, so I pulled back as hard as I could and just held on," Conrad said.
Jamie Coyoc (26-6) had better luck than his teammate Egan, defeating Matt Hughes 6-5 to win the 160-pound title.
"It's kind of hard to believe that I am a regional champ," said Coyoc, who last season competed mostly at 182 pounds and rarely enjoyed the success he has had this year. "I really took things a lot more serious and worked as hard as I could do get in shape, and it feels so much better to be wrestling at (60) instead of 170 or 182 where my opponents where all bigger and stronger than I was."