With a flair for the dramatic, Marmion Academy emerged champions of the 23rd Moore-Prettyman Invite with a dazzling final round of wrestling to edge Libertyville.
Anthony Bosco and AJ Jaffe fueled a perfect 8-0 afternoon performance with their individual titles, two of five for the Cadets. Marmion finished with 241.50 points, 8.5 more than the Wildcats.
"We had to go 8-0 in order to get past a tremendous team in Libertyville," said Marmion coach Ryan Cumbee, who along with a big crowd watched the two state-ranked teams take turns as tournament leader.
Libertyville led for the last time at 221-211.5 just before the finals began.
"Hard work, desire, our ability to win the close matches and our overall fitness might have been the difference between winning and losing the championship today," said Cumbee, whose team also won last year, "and I am very proud of all of the guys for the effort they put forth."
The Bosco-Jaffe duo was sensational during the early stages of the final round, each recording memorable victories in finals. Bosco, a senior who easily could have been named Outstanding Wrestler (Hinsdale Central heavyweight Brian Allen got the honor) rolled over the field to earn top honors at 113 pounds.
In his semifinal, Bosco avenged an OT loss from his the 2013 third-place state match against Travis Piotrowski (Prairie Ridge) with a 4-3 OT victory to earn his place opposite tourney favorite and No. 1 ranked Michael Cullen of Cary-Grove.
Cullen opened strong with a takedown 30 seconds in, but near the end of the first period he tweaked his right ankle near the edge and looked to be competing at less than 100 percent the rest of the way.
"I thought Michael looked very good from the start, but injuries are part of every sport and you have to tough it out the best you can," said Cary-Grove coach Ryan Ludwig, whose teams finished ninth overall with 119 points, 7.5 more than Fox Valley Conference rival Crystal Lake South.
"I knew going in that I couldn't allow (Cullen) to sit on my wrists and get into his game," said Bosco, who won 5-3 in OT against Cullen. "So I tried to tie him up as much as I could, slow him down a little, and take advantage of him getting a little tired after the injury."
That set the stage for a key win from Jaffe, who met Libertyville's Steve Polakowski at 120.
"Anthony's big win got me motivated and really pumped me up for my final, and I felt my conditioning was big against Polakowski because I didn't let him do much of anything he wanted to," said Jaffe.
Jaffe won 4-1, then watched Johnny Jimenez (126) record a 12-4 major decision victory over Wheaton North's Dylan Thurston to earn his second straight title.
"If you hope to make a name for yourself here, you have to beat a big name to do so, which I was hoping to do," said Thurston, a sophomore who knocked off No. 2 seed Noah Drabek (Grant) in the semifinals.
Jimenez, who will be chasing a fourth state championship this season, gave the Cadets a 1.5-point lead (224.5-223.0) in the team race following his win. Then Trace Carello provided another key outcome when he outlasted Libertyille's Joey Gunther 3-1 in the final at 152.
"I know our third period probably put everyone to sleep, but I had been watching throughout and waiting for the moment when he would step forward with his foot -- and when he did, I just went for my shot, and that was the difference in overtime," said Carello of his match-winning move 14 seconds into the first extra session.
Gunther entered the tournament as the No. 4-rated 152-pounder in the state, while Carello was No. 11.
While the two front-runners went about trying to add team points after the Carello decision, others, including Waubonsie Valley and Crystal Lake South, looked to improve their final standings too.
Waubonsie Valley's Jimmy Davis (138) got the opponent he'd hoped for in Crystal Lake South Nick Gil. But the Gators senior won his championship with a 7-4 decision.
Davis' teammate Mitch Kroening, who'd stunned No. 2 seed Austin Koziol of LIbertyville 8-6 in the semis, fell to top-rated Connor Swier of Neuqua Valley in the 182-pound final 10-3.
"While it's great to win a title at a tournament like this, what really matters is where you're ranked at Champaign on the final night of the state tournament, and that's where I want to be --the No. 1 wrestler when it's all said and done," said Kroening, who won 31 times last season.
Brian Pence, who was little-known at the start of last season before enjoying a breakout year for Crystal Lake South, proved to be the best of all at 192 pounds following a 5-1 decision over Dominic Sterr of Plainfield Central.
"Nobody really knew who I was last year, and in the end, I should have done better, but I wasn't mentally where I needed to be in order to compete at a high level," said Pence, who won 35 bouts and an FVC title last season. "So I did so much extra work, lifted all throughout the off-season and got myself mentally right for my senior year."
Gators junior Eric Barone came close to upending top seed and 2013 state runner-up Juwan Edmond (Hinsdale Central) in a hard-fought 5-2 loss in the 145-pound final.
"Edmond is so athletic, and unbelievably fast, and during those first 90 seconds or so of the first period we looked like we were in trouble, especially when he got that first takedown," said CL South coach Ross Ryan. "But Eric never goes away, and he is a brawler and a guy you can't put away. So we knew the longer the match went, the tougher it would be on (Edmond)."
"Coach told me it's better to lose a match like this than in Champaign, and we both feel I'll have another chance at the tournament against him then," said Barone, who made his first trip to the tournament last February.
Host Barrington, riddled with injuries this weekend, finished 11th overall (105 points) and celebrated a second-place medal at 106 pounds from sophomore Matt Stathakis.