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Triple threats: Goress, Jimenez, Fisher win state wrestling championships

Kaneland's Dan Goress celebrates his 2A state wrestling championship at 145 pounds on Saturday in Champaign.
Kaneland's Dan Goress celebrates his 2A state wrestling championship at 145 pounds on Saturday in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN – Dan Goress might wrestle in college after graduating from Kaneland this spring. He might also enter the workforce. Or perhaps he'll join the military.

The future isn't yet Goress' to grasp, he knows, but he is quite certain of one thing.

He couldn't have felt much surer of himself than he did late Saturday night.

Goress downed Montini senior Michael Sepke, 3-1, for the Class 2A, 145-pound state title at the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall before beginning to deliver a series of cliches. He lived a dream. His hard work paid off. While trite, that much is true. Still, Goress undoubtedly turned those phrases and his parents' daily reminders of his ability to accomplish whatever he put his mind to into currency.

The medal that dangled from his neck was one thing. The lifelong affirmation was another.

"You can tell yourself, 'I'm going to be a state champ,' but if you don't do anything about it, it ain't ever going to happen," Goress said. "And it starts every day with waking up. Running, your diet. Practice. Watching film. That's what it comes down to."

Goress (42-3) secured the third of the Chronicle-area's three state titles after multiple-time champions Johnny Jimenez (120) and George Fisher (132) – longtime friends from St. Charles – delivered for Marmion in 3A.

A junior, Jimenez (48-2) notched his third state title in as many seasons by again defeating Sandburg senior Sebastian Pique. One week after topping his offseason practice partner, 10-2, in a Shepard Sectional semifinal, Jimenez won, 3-0, and naturally started remembering the times he watched the state meet as a youngster.

"Now that this is my third [title], I feel like I'm just like everyone else up there when I was little," Jimenez said. "So it just feels really great now knowing that I did this myself. I'm definitely going to keep working hard for my fourth."

To date, Jimenez is 111-7 in his prep career and has just one loss against Illinois opposition – a Dvorak tournament defeat against unbeaten 1A champion Josh Alber of Dakota.

Jimenez's earlier titles – at 103 in 2011 and at 113 last season – came in 2A. Throughout the winter, Jimenez and his teammates reiterated how the recent jump to 3A did not or would not faze them. Such a move seemed minuscule when weighed against the Cadets' traditionally daunting schedule of national tournaments.

For Fisher (47-4), a Michigan-bound senior, a seasonlong practice drill ultimately put him over the top. Opposing Oak Park-River Forest sophomore Larry Early III, who entered the title bout at 45-0, Fisher spotted the chance for a maneuver he works every day in the Cadets' mat room.

A head-in-the-hole, front side cradle.

Just 1:45 after the match started, Fisher notched a fall, giving him the second state title of his career.

"It was an instinct. That's all we've been working on the past four years, and I get in that position, I go straight to it," Fisher said. "His leg was there and I went for it, usually I don't. … But, I mean, it's the finals. Go for it all, so I went for it. And I ended up pinning him."

Marmion produced four placers among its seven state qualifiers, as St. Charles products Anthony Bosco (fourth at 106) and Alex Fritz (sixth at 285) earned podium trips before the weekend's final session of wrestling.

Fritz, a 37-16 senior, secured place-winner status for the first time in four career state berths.

A junior, the 37-10 Bosco engaged in a scoreless duel with Prairie Ridge freshman Travis Piotrowski in the third-place bout before Piotrowski hit a surprise cradle and finished with a pin in the second overtime tiebreaker.

"It's definitely disappointing knowing that I could've won," Bosco said. "It definitely was not my best tournament of the year. I felt good about battling back to the third-place match, it's just disappointing to think that I couldn't finish it."

It's still possible for Bosco – and all other Cadets not named Jimenez or Fisher – to close the season with a victory. After rolling to the title at the 3A Naperville Central Regional two weekends ago, Marmion clinched the program's first trip to team dual sectionals.

Marmion faces St. Rita in the Hinsdale South Sectional at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and would advance to the Feb. 23 dual team state tournament in Bloomington with a victory.

"One more week," Bosco said. "We've got to get that team state title."

Marmion has enjoyed multiple placers for much of this decade, including champs Jimenez and Angelo Silvestro last season. For Kaneland, the feat is more rare.

With senior 285-pounder Zach Theis' fifth-place run coupled alongside Goress' success, the Knights sent two athletes to the podium for the first time since the early 1990s, Kaneland assistant Jeremy Kenny said. Goress is the school's first state champion since assistant Scott Brewer won in 1993.

Theis (36-8) effectively employed his cradle once again to secure a fall against Chicago Northside's Ben Mauk-O'Connor early in the second period of the fifth-place bout.

"I came into the season knowing I had the chance to get to state," said Theis, also an all-state offensive lineman during football season. "I got to state and just thought I might as well do some damage. See what I can do."

St. Charles East junior Isaiah Vela (132) and Marmion's Jake Field (126) and Cody Snodgrass (195) were eliminated from the 3A draw Saturday morning after losing wrestleback quarterfinals.

All three finished one victory away from placing in the top six. Like the area's three champions, they carried the same aspirations and certainly could attest to Goress' resolve.

"I didn't care if they put a bulldozer in front of me. I wasn't going to lose," Goress said. "I might never wrestle again, so why go out on a bad note? I'm not here to impress anybody. I'm here to win."


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