Never a doubt: Montini goes back-to-back
BLOOMINGTON -- Montini senior Peter Christensen kept his eyes on the prize on Saturday night.
So did the rest of his teammates.
Despite losing the first two weight classes to Oak Park-River Forest in the Class 3A dual-team wrestling tournament, Christensen and the Broncos weren't going to let that slow start deter them from a second straight state team title.
"I never doubted us," Christensen said. "We were just wrestling, having fun and we knew we would win. We feel prepared coming into every tournament, ready to have fun and wrestle hard."
It included some drama, but the Broncos added another first-place trophy at Grossinger Motors Arena. Paced by a dominating showing in the higher weight classes, the Broncos pulled out a 41-18 victory over the Huskies to notch the program's 15th team state wrestling title.
The nationally ranked Broncos (27-2) defeated Barrington 58-10 in the morning quarterfinal round and edged DeKalb 31-30 in the afternoon semifinal. With the win over OPRF, the Broncos captured their second consecutive title and seventh in the nine-year coaching tenure of Israel Martinez.
Trailing 9-0, Joe Fernau started the comeback with a win at 106. Nick Gonzalez (113 pounds), Dylan Ragusin (126), Cooper Wettig (145), Fidel Majora (152), Jake Stiles (160), Anthony Geraci (170), Trevor Swier (182) and Christensen (195) all notched wins in the title bout.
Ragusin, Stiles and Christensen also won 3A individual titles last Saturday at State Farm Center.
Stiles (51-0) kept his record unblemished in his senior year after winning the 152-pound final at the state individual meet in Champaign, then earning three victories on Saturday. The Oklahoma recruit closed out his final high school season with a 13-1 major-decision over OPRF's Joe Chapman -- plus back-to-back individual and teams championships.
"I was a little nervous when they got the 9-0 lead, but I knew our guys would come through because we have been there before and it's a process," Stiles said. "We know we are tough in the middle weights and all of our experienced guys and young guys came through. We did our best and it paid off."
At 182 pounds Swier pulled out a 5-3 win over Daemyen Middlebrooks. Swier said he wrestled smart and picked the right moments to attack to defeat in his final match.
"The thrill of winning my second straight champion with my brothers was nice," he said. "I had trust we could get it done. Overall, we knew we could comeback after trailing that we could win this. We didn't let other people dictate the match and not let them get to their offense."
For Christensen, his final match was special. The Wisconsin recruit made a point to have "some fun" in his 21-6 technical fall win over OPRF's Brian Ziech to end his season with a 51-2 record.
"It was my last match, so most of time I'm serious, but I wanted to have some fun and finish it off on a strong note," Christensen said.
In a season in which the Broncos competed against five out-of-state teams, including three from California, Martinez said Saturday's second dual meet victory over the Huskies (26-4) this season carried a special meaning.
"We know Oak Park is the real deal and how talented they are," Martinez said. "We forfeited two matches against DeKalb to prepare and show these guys the respect they deserve … I knew we were capable of a lot of things … We were lucky enough to put things together, and our boys wrestled hard."