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Druley: Jimenez to thank for Marmion wrestling’s new band of brothers

Move from Boston, absorb your dad’s football feedback, pursue wrestling recreationally, pursue wrestling at full-bore.

In so many moves, Marmion junior 160-pounder Nick Ferraro followed that path to the podium at Saturday’s 3A Naperville Central Regional.

He hopes to continue the climb as his first varsity season resumes with the Shepard Sectional that begins tonight.

It’s likely Ferraro – and possibly his brother, freshman 138-pounder Matt – would never have slipped into singlets if not for Cadets standout Johnny Jimenez. Turns out Nick Ferraro’s wrestling career started on a Tri-City Chargers football field about a decade ago.

“[Jimenez] had the best positioning on the team and my dad asked why he had such good positioning,” Ferraro said. “Wrestling. I did wrestling to get better at football, and it turned out wrestling was my sport.”

Just like his younger brother, Nick Ferraro (26-16) advanced from regionals to sectionals­ by rallying to win a third-place bout against a foe from Naperville North.

His 9-4 victory against the Huskies’ Brandon Gilligan kept a dominant Cadets run going. Marmion advanced 13 of possible 14 athletes to Shepard, and his teammates’ success was on Ferraro’s mind when he took the mat.

“I just didn’t want to be the kid that didn’t make it,” he said, “so I just got strong and decided to make it happen.”

The Ferraro family relocated to Elburn when the brothers were young, as their father, Mark, a 401k salesman, needed to move for work. Both brothers attended Thompson Middle School.

Sports always were part of the Ferraro fabric, although Jimenez – a two-time state champion – is deserving of an assist for bringing wrestling into the mix.

Matt Ferraro (18-6) used to lock horns with Nick in the family basement, but those matches are less frequent now that the family donated its wrestling mat to St. Charles North Youth Wrestling, the club that cultivated their skills along with those of several other Cadets.

That includes the majority of Marmion’s five freshman sectional qualifiers, including 152-pound champion Riley DeMoss.

“We’re all like brothers,” Matt Ferraro said. “I mean, we’ve been together since we were little at SCN. We grew up together, beaten each other up, helped each other out and we’ve kind of developed a bond that we’ve always got each other.”

Naturally, the same goes for Ferraro’s biological kin.

Camaraderie always has been the brothers’ position.

Hail Dale: As North Aurora Village President, Dale Berman is accustomed to having a pulse on people’s agendas.

In the matter of who nominated him for induction into the Ottawa Township High School Hall of Fame this weekend, however, Berman throws up his hands.

“Whoever it was, I thank them very much,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll find out Saturday.”

Berman, a 1951 alumnus who played offensive tackle for the Pirates football team, is part of a class that includes six other individuals and the 1977-78 boys basketball team.

Before entering the business world – and eventually politics – he played college football at Northwestern and Northern Illinois, with a tour in the U.S. Army sandwiched in between.

Berman traveled to Miami Gardens, Fla., for NIU’s recent Orange Bowl appearance, and was a regular spectator during his grandson’s football career at Batavia in the late 2000s.

Jake Hilliard also was a heavyweight wrestler for the Bulldogs, but still shared that “big guy” reputation with his grandfather, who said he was one of the region’s bulkiest players in the early ’50s at 235 pounds.

“When you think back of football 60 years ago, it’s just neat,” said Berman, 79. “It was a great game then and it’s still a great game.”

Private eyes on STC co-op gymnasts: Tuesday’s girls gymnastics battle between the St. Charles co-op and Glenbard West marked the first time the traditionally powerful programs opposed one another this season.

St. Charles edged the host Hilltoppers, 143.775 to 143.3, to win the Glenbard West Sectional and an automatic spot at the Feb. 15 and 16 state meet at Palatine.

It’s possible the Hilltoppers could see St. Charles again at state, as their score remains in the running for one of the four at-large team berths set to be determined at the conclusion of Thursday’s Stevenson Sectional. Should a reunion occur, Glenbard West coach Carlos Fuentes would welcome the opportunity. He called St. Charles’ season accomplishments to date “very solid,” namely the team’s program-best score of 146.8 achieved at a January triangular.

“We’ve kind of been watching them from afar, and I’m sure them the same to us,” Fuentes said. “We had seen the score that they put up, and we felt like we were very similar teams – built really strongly on one or two events and maybe not as strong on the other two.”

Fuentes essentially handicapped the difference as the St. Charles vault against the Glenbard West floor exercise as St. Charles captured its first sectional title since 2008.

“Our goal from Day 1 was to make it to state as a team, so we’ve been working super hard at practice,” said senior Andrea Schwartz, a St. Charles East senior who competed in bars at sectionals. “We’re definitely going to push harder.”

Just like old times: Batavia girls basketball coach Kevin Jensen was a Plano shooting guard when the Reapers competed alongside nearby rivals Yorkville and Sandwich in a Class A regional to open the 1998-99 postseason.

Next week, Jensen will guide the Bulldogs in a 4A regional at St. Charles East that already is reminding him of his playing days. Close-quartered Geneva, Batavia and East are the three top-seeded teams in the bracket, as was the case with Plano, Sandwich and host Plano 14 years ago.

“It was just kind of made up to be a real big deal, and it was just a blast,” Jensen said. “I mean, I still have friends that I played with but friends that I played against from either of those schools, and it was a good time. I think it could be a real good time again for those girls and the communities. It should be a good turnout for everybody.”

• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or

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