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St. Charles East

Cadets, Saints, Knights wrestling break through

Kaneland's Esai Ponce (top) controls Burlington Central's Brady Weinrich during their 132-pound finals match on Saturday at the Class 2A Sycamore Regional. Ponce won the match with a 10-2 decision.
Kaneland's Esai Ponce (top) controls Burlington Central's Brady Weinrich during their 132-pound finals match on Saturday at the Class 2A Sycamore Regional. Ponce won the match with a 10-2 decision.

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 this week’s Shepard Sectional, including five freshmen.

“Sometimes our age shows,” said one freshman, 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
Smorczewski, who won his first career tournament. Jake Boser of Geneva, which advanced four to sectionals, took the crown at 182.

In the 126-pound final, Batavia senior 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, vowing to win sectionals.

“It means nothing, and coming into regionals, it meant nothing,” Shump said. “You know, I needed the wake-up call, it looks like.”

At the 3A Glenbard North Regional, champions Keone Derain (145) and Cam Carlson (170) highlighted St. Charles East’s haul of nine qualifiers to the Maine East Sectional.

Wes Pasholk, St. Charles North’s lone sectional qualifier, won a title at 220. Pasholk is the second cousin of former Geneva state champion Ray Soto, who on Saturday was inducted into the Vikings’ Athletic Hall of Fame

The host Panthers registered 222 points to win their 13th successive team regional title. East (174.5) finished third, in close pursuit of runner-up Wheaton North (183.5).

In 2A regional action at Sycamore, senior champions Esai Ponce (132), Sonny Horn (138), Dan Goress (145) and Zach Theis (285) led seven Kaneland wrestlers who will move on to the Rochelle Sectional.

Goress won by pin and technical fall before winning by injury default in the final. Coach Monty Jahns expects big things from Goress down the road after the senior made it all the way to the quarterfinals at the state meet last year..

“Unfortunately we didn’t get to see him wrestle in the final match, but [Goress] is just solid,” Jahns said. “He’s right on, and that’s carried over in the room. Esai is right behind him.”

Ponce had a standout day, winning by pin in the first two rounds before beating Burlington Central wrestler Brady Weinrich in the final. Throughout the year, he’s steadily improved after losing 20 pounds to get into his desired weight class.

“That was probably one of the best matches I’ve had all year,” Ponce said. “With my cardio up a little, I wrestled a lot better … I’m wrestling the best that I ever have.”

• Kevin Druley and Anthony Zilis
contributed to this report.

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