Understanding why Geneva wrestlers prefer locking horns in the Mack Olson Gymasium instead of the school's more cavernous main gym is as elementary as rhyme time.
"Definitely in there, it's a lot more secluded because the stands are so big. Here, it's definitely packed I mean, it's 'Pack the Mack,' " Vikings senior 220-pounder Jake Andersen said. "We're in, and the crowd's involved, and it's awesome. I love it."
Geneva edged Batavia, 29-24, on Dec. 5 in its first of three Mack Olson duals this season. The Vikings wrestled Larkin in the contest gym last month due to a conflict with its fellow Mack Olson tenant, the girls gymnastics team, and also hosts the Newbill Invitational in the contest gym each January.
Fans stayed invested throughout the night as the Bulldogs remained in the hunt. The match was moved ahead one day to avoid a conflict with Friday's Batavia-Geneva girls/boys basketball doubleheader.
"We had big support. I really liked all that," Andersen said. "I've got to give it to all my classmates for coming out. It's really awesome that they show their support for us."
Batavia started four freshmen in the dual and split the matches, with Seth Winkle (120) and Joe Posledni (126) earning decision victories.
"This is probably the biggest dual meet they've been a part of so far. I think there's nerves there," Bulldogs coach Scott Bayer said. "It's very easy to give an opponent too much credit when you don't have a lot of experience, you know. That's a function of age and confidence, and we'll get there."
Ironman time here for Marmion
Marmion coach Ryan Cumbee mirrors his athletes' enthusiasm about this weekend's Walsh Ironman tournament in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, perhaps because it's been more than 15 years in the making.
A 1999 Providence graduate, Cumbee and the Celtics never traveled to the traditionally daunting event just north of Akron.
"I'm jealous that I didn't get to compete at that level when I was high school," Cumbee said. "I wish we had the opportunity that these kids get, to compare themselves to the best competition in the country."
Teams from 15 states – including Colorado, Delaware, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia – are part of a premier field. Along with Marmion, Montini and Oak Park-River Forest will represent Illinois.
"It's the greatest tournament in the country at the high school level," Cumbee said.
Marmion finished eighth last season, with 12 wrestlers advancing to the second day of competition.
IN THE GROOVE
St. Charles East, Jr., 120 pounds
What he did: Doherty swept his three matches at Saturday's Wheaton Warrenville South mega dual on the heels of a Friday victory against Larkin. "He's doing a heck of a job for us," Saints coach Jason Potter said. "He's improved a bunch."
Wheaton Academy, Sr., 152 pounds
What he did: Literally rolled to an invidual title at Saturday's Rockford East tournament. Budsisz collected three falls in as many matches, becoming the first Wheaton Academy wrestler to earn a tournament championship.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
Kaneland could get used to "The Convo." Hosting Sycamore at Northern Illinois' Convocation Center on Dec. 5 ahead of a Huskies dual, the Knights edged the Spartans, 33-29, for their first victory in the series since 2006. Key victories included Matthew Redman's 3-2 decision at 126 pounds and Austin Parks' tech fall at 160.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
How Marmion fares at the Walsh Ironman tournament on Friday and Saturday. In preseason, Cadets coach Ryan Cumbee compared his team's highly competitive schedule to a thoroughbred running the Kentucy Derby every week. In Ohio, one of Kentucky's border states, Marmion finds its latest proving ground.
COACH SLY SEZ
Some folks think wrestling is certifiable, but think twice about saying that to an athlete who's striving to get certified at his weight.
It happens every fall, but the recent helter skelter schedule of the five Batavia starters who jumped from a football championship celebration to the mat room within a couple of days last week illustrates wrestlers' dedication over and again.