NAPERVILLE – Nine Marmion wrestlers intended no slight to the five non-Cadets stationed on their side of the championship mat late Saturday afternoon.
If finals introductions at the 3A Naperville Central Regional didn't already sound like a Marmion dual meet, the Cadets representing their powerhouse program added the look, slapping hands with each teammate as he came down the line.
Marmion channeled the same comfortable feeling when bouts began moments later, completing a dominant run to the school's first team regional title in its 3A debut.
"It definitely takes some of the pressure off, the little pressure that there is," junior 106-pounder Anthony Bosco said. "When you've got all your friends in the finals with you, you're having to kind of feed off everybody's energy."
The Cadets boarded the bus with eight individual champions and plenty of spunk to spare after scoring 244 points, well ahead of runner up Downers Grove South (119) and third-place Batavia (105). Thirteen Marmion athletes advanced to next week's Shepard Sectional. Fourteen weight classes comprise standard competition.
Marmion fell short at 220 pounds, where highly-touted freshman Lucas Warren jumped to a strong start before fracturing his back early last month. Otherwise, this was Cadet reign with a hail to the kiddie corps. Five members of Marmion's sectional haul are freshmen.
"Sometimes our age shows," said one in that number, 152-pound winner Riley DeMoss. "Hopefully, it doesn't over the next few weeks."
Johnny Jimenez (120), Jake Field (126), George Fisher (132), Trace Carello (145), Cody Snodgrass (195) and Alex Fritz (285) were the Cadets' other regional champions. Marmion will compete in the Hinsdale South dual team sectional after the individual state tournament concludes in two weekends.
Batavia produced six individual sectional qualifers, highlighted by senior 138-pound champ Charlie Smorzcweski, who won his first career tournament. Fellow senior Jake Boser of Geneva took the crown at 182.
Another senior, Bulldogs 126-pounder Joel Shump, suffered his first defeat of the season when Field, a longtime offseason training partner, scored a 4-3 decision in the title bout. Shump entered the finals at 37-0, and quickly shrugged off the streak.
"It means nothing, and coming into regionals, it meant nothing," Shump said. "You know, I needed the wake-up call, it looks like."
Shump and Field joked together on the awards podium.
Field, one of several Cadets who hail from St. Charles, was trailing late in the second period when he scored the go-ahead takedown on the edge.
In a match featuring far fewer flurries than their usual encounters at the Naperville-based Overtime School of Wrestling, Field sensed mounting urgency. He gambled and won, working a slide-by into a single-leg takedown.
"Usually, it's more one-sided in an Overtime bout. Either it's him all the way or me all the way," Field said. "Today, obviously, was real close and I didn't wrestle exactly how I wanted to, but I came out with a victory and am going to build off that next week."
The top three finishers from each weight class advance from regionals to sectionals. Among Geneva's four sectional qualifiers, seniors Brad Martens (120) and Mike Villanueva (152) captured third-place bouts to qualify.
Regional champs receive a first-round bye at sectionals and affirmation for their seasonlong effort in the mat room.
"You still go hard, but you ease up a little bit, because basically the hay's all in the barn, pretty much," Boser said. "All the work's been done, so now it's just go time."
After finishing below .500 last season, Smorczewski, now 29-11, can attest.
"This year it kind of clicked for me in my brain. Just go for it. There's nothing to lose," he said. "And then the wins started piling up, and it's a nice thing."
Marmion (13): Anthony Bosco (106), AJ Jaffe (113) Johnny Jimenez (120), Jake Field (126), George Fisher (132), Matt Ferraro (138), Trace Carello (145), Riley DeMoss (152), Nick Ferraro (160), Josh Meyers (170), Nathan Traxler (182), Cody Snodgrass (195), Alex Fritz (285)
Batavia (6): Michael Doranski (106), Joel Shump (126), Charlie Smorczewski (138), Jon Wagner (160), Mickey Watson (195), Mitchell Krusz (285)
Geneva (4): Brad Martens (120), Thomas O'Brien (132), Mike Villanueva (152), Jake Boser (182)