CHICAGO | With Sandburg and Marist's wrestlers in an intense battle for the team title at the Class 3A Marist Regional, there simply was not much room on the podium for anybody else.
The teams split the 14 individual champions Saturday at Marist High School, with Sandburg edging Marist 258-245 1/2 for the team title. T.F. South (87 points) did the best of the seven other teams. The Rebels took third place and will send four wrestlers to next weekend's De La Salle Sectional, while Thornton (56) took sixth and placed three wrestlers. Thornwood (52 1/2) had two medal winners and placed seventh.
The top three place finishers in each weight class advance to De La Salle, while Sandburg advances to the team sectional Feb. 21 at Oak Park-River Forest based on Saturday's narrow win.
"I thought the kids did a great job and fought hard," Rebels coach Mike Tisza said. "Some wrestled better than others, but the main thing is for those who qualified, there will be another week of work and a chance to figure out what to do (at sectionals)."
The Rebels and the Wildcats each sent two wrestlers into the championship match, only to come out on the short end each time.
Rebels junior Blake Tisza (34-2), the state's fifth-ranked 3A wrestler at 138, had his 28-match win streak snapped 5-1 in the finals by Sandburg's Mitch Cook. Tisza managed an escape midway through the third period to cut Cook's lead to 3-1, but the state's 12th-ranked 3A wrestler at 138 came back with a takedown 20 seconds later on his way to the regional title.
"When you don't move, that is what happens," coach Tisza said of his son's loss."It's not the end of the world; he qualified for sectionals, and the top four there go on to state. What matters is getting to state, and then you've got to have your run."
The championship round got off to an electric start with the 106-pound match between Thornton's Kris Williams and Marist's David Kasper. Williams led 4-0 after scoring an early takedown and a second-period reversal, but Kasper battled back with an escape in the second and third periods and a takedown with 17 seconds left in regulation to send the match into overtime.
The two grappled on their feet in overtime until Kasper managed a takedown as time expired to capture the championship. The defeat was the first of the year for Williams (14-1), who is a freshman.
"I stopped moving my feet with that takedown he got off me in the third period," Williams said. "This was a teachable moment, and it will be hard for me to forget my first loss."
Wildcats senior Dominique Bryant (28-4) advanced to his third sectional with a second-place finish at 170 pounds, while T.F. South junior Joe Young (26-6) earned his first trip to a sectional tournament with his runner-up performance at 182. Rebels James Cooper (145 pounds) and Corinthian McBridge (285) qualified for sectionals with third-place finishes, as did Thornwood's Shaquille Farmer (126) and Aaron Richmond (152). Thornton's Josh Dixon-Tennet also qualified with his third-place finish at 195.