BATAVIA – Don't underestimate the clout of Marian Central at first glimpse because of seven starters as freshmen – a rarity for decorated wrestling programs.
Headlined by freshmen Dylan Connell (152 pounds) and Bryce Shelton (120), the Hurricanes fought to a second-place team finish with 175.5 points Saturday at the Batavia Wrestling Invitational.
Marian senior Luke Silva (30-1) defeated Plainfield South's Erik Santiago for the 160-pound title, while Connell won a major decision, 10-0 vs. Johnsburg's Matt Tobin, in the final.
"I wasn't nervous this match," Connell said of the final. "I was feeling a lot better than my semis. (I) got a takedown on him, and then a turn for three back points (for five first-period points). I thought I had him pinned, but it didn't get called."
From there, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way for Connell.
Heading into the meet with a 22-5 record, Shelton defeated Johnsburg's Brad Wizceb and Batavia's Reid Coyle en route to a championship appearance against Lemont's Kyle Schickel. Shelton had not competed against Schickel (29-2) before the match but looked to keep the match close while waiting for his chances for attacks.
The sophomore Schickel was ready with a 13-0 major-decision victory, but the loss presented Shelton with fuel for the internal fire.
"It makes me want to work harder in the room and get better as things go on," Shelton said of the loss.
Johnsburg's Butler just misses
Johnsburg senior Austin Butler needed only a little bit more time in the 170-pound final.
Competing against Andrew's JP Migawa, Butler (25-3) fell behind, 3-1, with about 50 seconds remaining in the third period after a takedown. A late Butler escape inched the score to 3-2 about 20 seconds later, but Migawa (33-3) held firm through the end.
"I knew it was defintely going to be a battle from the start," Butler said. "This was a great tournament. It's a good place to be to get better.
Johnsburg finished ninth with 91.5 points and two second-place finishes.
McHenry's Cagle outlasts Leyden's Jaffray
Jake Leske lost in the 182-pound final, so it was up to McHenry teammate Geoff Cagle to keep the Warriors' chances for a champion alive.
In the early going of the 220-pound final, Cagle discovered a possible advantage over Leyden's Ryan Jaffray.
"I figured out he was weak on snapdowns, and he was really fast," Cagle said.
Cagle took a 3-2 lead into the final period and outlasted Jaffray for a 5-3 decision.
McHenry finished 13th with 49 team points.