Marmion was starting to feel the heat from St. Rita.
In their first quest to make the state quarterfinals in wrestling in three years, the Cadets, who never trailed the Mustangs Tuesday night at the Class 3A Hinsdale South team sectional, suddenly found a resurgent St. Rita vying for a comeback.
But the Cadets' Alex Fritz, a four-year varsity starter, put any notions of a St. Rita come-from-behind win on the back burner by applying his second takedown of his heavyweight match in the waning seconds to put his imprints on a 5-1 victory.
The simple decision, which Dylan Duncan then ratified with a 4-1 victory at 106 pounds in the final match in Darian, ensured Marmion its second Elite Eight appearance in program history.
With its 37-22 victory Marmion (24-2) advances to face Minooka, which throttled Waubonsie Valley at Oswego East, Saturday morning in Bloomington.
"It was a great feeling (to clinch the team victory)," said Fritz, who placed sixth at state last weekend in Champaign. "It was a team effort. Everyone did their jobs, and we got it done together. You are more focused on your own personal matches (at individual state). Team state is all about the team, no matter what you do (individually)."
Marmion could not have scripted a better start after opening the match with 15 straight points.
A.J. Jaffe authored the flawless opening three matches for the Cadets with a fall at 113 pounds.
Johnny Jimenez, who made history over the weekend by becoming the first three-time state champion in program history, received a forfeit at 120 pounds.
The junior is a mere win away from a magical 50-win campaign.
Jake Field then prevailed in a nail-biter at 126 pounds to extend the unanswered Marmion run to 15 points.
"I am very happy with the way our boys wrestled tonight," a jubilant Marmion coach Ryan Cumbee said in the aftermath of the Cadets' second trip to the team state finals. "I am so happy that (Fritz) was able to fill that role (of icing the victory). We won the close matches tonight."
St. Rita, which had its season close at 24-5, earned its first victory at 132 pounds.
That weight is typically the domain of George Fisher, who won his second career state title last weekend for Marmion.
But the Michigan-bound senior simply bumped up a weight and gave the Cadets a commanding 21-4 lead with his pin at 138 pounds.
St. Rita would strike back at 145 pounds, but Trace Carello, Nick Ferraro and Josh Meyers all secured simple decisions at 152, 160 and 170 pounds, respectively, to extend the Marmion lead to 31-7.
"Whoever wants it more (as a team) is going to get it," said Fisher. "There is a different mindset (at dual-team state than individual state)."
St. Rita, though, refused to surrender, scoring 15 straight points between 182 and 220 pounds; Jack Sears' fall at 182 pounds was the Mustangs' signature win on the night.
With Fritz prevailing at heavyweight though, the Cadets had secured another trip downstate.
The Cadets were annihilated in their only other state appearance against conference rival Montini.
"It was a long trip there and a long trip back," said Fisher, who was a freshman starter three years ago.
•In the other Sweet 16 matchup, defending state champion Sandburg (25-4) cruised to a 43-20 victory over Hinsdale Central.
The Red Devils, who had their season end at 17-7, did receive one final masterpiece from undefeated heavyweight state champion Brian Allen.
The junior ended his storybook season at 49-0 with third-period technical fall.
"We knew coming in it would be a tough dual," Allen said. "It's kind of hard to wrestle after a long weekend (at the individual state tournament)."