Marmion's big finish leads to title at Barrington
Marmion Academy's wrestling team raced out of the blocks and never looked back in outdistancing the field in the 26th annual Moore-Prettyman Wrestling Invitational hosted by Barrington on Saturday.
The Cadets won for tournament for the second straight year, using individual titles from Anthony Cheloni (138) and Brad Gross (152) and six second- and third-place medals to build a 36.5-point advantage over runner-up Barrington.
"We had a decent first day on Friday, so we challenged the boys to come out and be aggressive at the start today and we did just that," said Marmion coach Donny Reynolds. "And even though we didn't get one or two more first-place finishes, we still received some good all-around efforts throughout our lineup to win this thing."
Marmion finished with 218.5 points, with Barrington as 182. Next came Lyons Township (174.5), Wheaton North (171) and Stevenson (162.5) to round out the top five after this two-day wrestling marathon.
"This isn't the team we had the last couple of years," said Cheloni. "We had so many stars in our lineup. So this year, it's important that we wrestle for each other and our former teammates now at college in order to keep the Marmion tradition still alive."
Cheloni won for a second straight time, getting a 7-3 decision over LT senior Tyler Zeman the final.
Gross survived a nervous semifinal bout with Jared Ellingwood (Plainfield Central) to advance into the finals against Ameen Hamdan (Hinsdale Central). Then he kept the Cadets faithful on the edge of their seats right up until the final moments of regulation, when Gross stunned his opponent with a pin at 5:52.
"That semifinal was really something, so it was important to stay cool and calm, which will help you win a lot of close matches just like that," said Gross, who earned a sixth-place state medal a year ago as a freshman.
Gross and Ellingwood went six minutes without a score, and another two extra sessions until Gross used an escape to win the tie-breaker decision.
The top four teams on the scoreboard managed to take eight of the 14 first-place finishes with two each. Waubonsie Valley big men Mason Kroening (195) and Nick Sontag (220) both performed brilliantly when they needed to after breezing into their respective finals, Kroening with a trio of pins, and Sontag with two falls wrapped around a 5-4 decision in the quarterfinals.
"We're lucky to have each other as workout partners," said Sontag. "In fact, it's been that way since we were in fourth grade."
Sontag says this season will be much better than last year, when he was continually cutting weight in order to compete at 170.
"I'm quicker than most of my opponents, and I have much more pace as well, so the plan is to take advantage of that throughout the season," said Sontag after his 14-4 major decision over Josh Dyer of Lake Zurich.
Kroening missed nearly all of the 2015-2016 regular season with a torn meniscus. But he looked healthy in fashioning a nicely played 8-6 decision against Plainfield Central senior Tommy Gustafson to earn the first of two titles for coach Brad Caldwell.
"It's a great way to begin the season, but it's also about setting a good example and doing all the right things as a senior in order to help my team and teammates," said Kroening. "Much like I witnessed when I was a freshmen and my brother (Mitch) was a senior, along with Jimmy Davis, who was a state medal winner that year."
Mitch Kroening was a state qualifier at 182 pounds, with 38 victories that season.
Wheaton North enjoyed a terrific two days as it was in the hunt for a top-three trophy before the final round began in the early afternoon Saturday -- until the Falcons were passed by Lyons just as the 182-pound final was set to begin.
Despite just missing out, North would still shone brightly, with standouts Frankie Indelli and Devon Donovan lighting things up in their finals.
Donovan (160), who was later named the meet's outstanding wrestler, defeated Stevenson senior Dylan Geick (7-3) to avenge a recent 1-point defeat to the fourth-place state medal winner from a year ago.
"That was a match I was really looking forward to, and it turned out as a real quality win for me," said Donovan, who up until his 4-point victory used a pair of major decision wins, his second in the semifinals, to secure a spot opposite Geick.
Once there, after a chess match of a first period, Donovan went ahead for good early in the third period (3-1) before slowly adding to his advantage.
"When I knew for sure that I could get (in) on him, and just kept attacking before finishing him off late in the match," said Donovan, a senior.
Indelli was nearly flawless over the two days, but, in the opinion of the affable 132-pounder, not as perfect as it may have appeared.
"It was a pretty good weekend, but I've got a lot of work ahead of me to get anywhere near where I want to be -- but it's an OK place to start from," said Indelli, who in his semifinal and final matches was able to double his advantage when the opportunity arose in the final stages of each first period.
"That's my style," Indelli said. "Build a lead to discourage my opponent, then try to explode in the third."
Indelli did just that against Barrington junior Jaritt Shinhoster in a 12-3 triumph.
Broncos junior Markus Hartman harassed, pressed and stamped out the competition on his home floor, including in a hard-fought 4-0 shutout in his 145-pound final against Jake Polka.
"Our final was a rematch of my state opener last year (Hartman won 7-3), so there weren't any surprises between the two of us," Hartman said. "I just stayed with the basics, got an early lead, then rode him hard during that entire second period to take control of the match."
Barrington freshman Kai Conway got the ball rolling in the final session with a 6-4 OT win over fellow 106-pound frosh Nick Minnito of Plainfield Central.
"When we went to overtime, I said to myself, 'oh no, not this' -- but I knew my conditioning and all the training to prepare for overtime matches had me ready for this situation, so it all came together for me," said Conway, who used a takedown 18 seconds into the first OT period to capture his first high school title.
"Kai was really composed and showed a lot of heart to get himself a big win, and one for us as well, while Markus was just Markus," said Barrington coach Dave Uchick. "He's just rock solid."
"All in all, it was a terrific first weekend for us, all made possible by some very good efforts from everyone on a weekend when all of our guys gave us at least 2 wins each to help add to our overall point total."
Here for the first time, and as the smallest school of the 27 competing, Burlington Central junior Austin Macias showed the program certainly fits in by winning the top prize at 120 pounds after a superb outing against Metea Valley standout Philip Sims.
The two-time state qualifier and 2016 third-place Class 2A state medalist said his slow start was not good. Neither was Macias worried, due to what he knew of his talented opponent.
"I lost to him during the off-season, and although I knew he is such a great athlete and has so much speed and quickness, I also knew that he would come at me with everything he had," said Macias. "So if I could weather that in the first period, it would only be a matter of time and I could wear him down."
True to form, Sims was all over Macias with his first-period onslaught, using a near fall right at the end of the period to build a 5-0 lead.
Sims started the second period on the bottom but never got up as Macias used 45 seconds in his attempt to put the sophomore on his back after turning him off the opening whistle.
With Sims unable to move a muscle, it was only a matter of time before he was given his first warning for stalling. Moments later, Macias unloaded a well executed lightning strike to register a pin at 3:45.
"He was gassed, and when I felt it, I knew it would be a matter of seconds to pin him," said Macias.
Burlington Central's Nick Termini came back from a disappointing quarterfinal defeat to Shinhoster (7-2), giving him five consecutive wins in the back-draw to earn a third-place medal at 132 pounds.