BLOOMINGTON – When it was all over and the Hurricanes finished shaking hands with top-ranked Washington on Saturday, Luke Silva shared a long embrace with his father.
Marian Central had just lost its IHSA Class 2A state quarterfinal dual, 42-25, against Washington at Grossinger Motors Arena. The Hurricanes ended a historic 27-3 season with their first trip to the dual state quarterfinals in program history. Washington went on to win its third straight state title.
Silva, a senior, earned a pin in his final high school match with his dad, assistant coach Gus Silva, and his uncle, head coach David Silva, in his corner.
“It was a really emotional moment,” Luke Silva said. “My dad’s been there for me from the beginning, since I was a Crystal Lake Wizard going to Sunday tournaments. High school, he was always in my corner. It was the last time that he’ll be in my corner when I step on a high school mat, it was really overwhelming.”
Washington entered as the No. 1-ranked team in 2A, a week removed from recording a whopping nine state medalists at the IHSA individual state meet last weekend in Champaign. The Panthers had five wrestlers in state championship matches, finishing with one individual state champion (Jace Punke, 285).
It was a tough quarterfinal draw for Marian.
“I don’t want to be down here and be a fourth-place team,” head coach David Silva said. “I want to be the champion. To be the champ, you’ve got to beat the champ. We ran into Washington first round. It’s unfortunate the bracket worked that way, but it is what it is. Our guys competed.”
All three seniors in the lineup recorded wins for Marian. Anthony Randazzo won by major decision at 138, Zach Gustafson won an 8-4 decision at 195 and Silva recorded his pin over Jaxon Ellis at 160.
Once the dual was out of hand, Washington forfeited the final two matches at 120 and 126 to Marian’s Bryce Shelton and Dan Valeria, respectively.
For the three seniors in the lineup, three wins was a nice way to go out, even if the team result wasn’t what they wanted.
“We came from a program that didn’t have a team that would ever come near sniffing team state, and just being here was a great experience,” Randazzo said. “It’s not the outcome we wanted, but it’s just going to drive the freshmen and underclassmen to push even harder.”
David Silva, in his second year coaching Marian, believes the Hurricanes are heading in the right direction largely because of the seniors.
“Our program is built on the backs of these seniors,” David Silva said. “They really have put so much into this sport and so much into this program. If it wasn’t for them, we would not be here.”
David Silva has never been shy about what his goal is with the wrestling program at Marian. Reaching dual state was another step, and wrestling the two-time defending champion was a chance to see what a team can look like when everything comes together.
“We’re going to win this thing,” David Silva said. “I have no doubt. And if we don’t think that way, then something’s wrong. That’s my goal and people probably think it’s crazy.”