LANSING | Thornton Fractional South junior wrestler Corinthian McBridge began his post-tournament march to the podium before his name was even called. And understandably so.
McBridge upset top-seeded Eduardo Marquez, of Reavis, in the 285-pound semifinals of Saturday's South Suburban Conference wrestling meet at T.F. South, then defeated second-seeded Hillcrest's Matthew Daniels 1-0 to claim the conference title.
It was the second tournament title for McBridge this season, his first year of varsity wrestling. The point that decided the championship was a penalty awarded in the final seconds when Daniels tried to flee the mat.
"I thought my semifinal match was my toughest one," said McBridge, who handed Marquez his fifth loss of the season with a 9-7 decision. "I managed to win by working hard, and I never stopped wrestling until the ref blew the whistle. This is big for me, going into regionals."
McBridge and teammate Blake Tisza (138 pounds) won conference titles to lead the Rebels to a fifth-place finish in the 14-team tournament.
Lemont won four weight classes on the way to defending its 2011 conference championship, this time comfortably winning with 208 points. Reavis (139.5), Argo (121) and Shepard (118) each placed ahead of T.F. South (98).
The Rebels' Marquise Brand (106) and Joe Young (182) finished second in their weight classes, while teammate Savaun Hamilton took fourth at 145. The Rebels will travel to Marist High School on Saturday for the Class 3A regional tournament.
"(This conference tournament) is like a precursor to regionals," South wrestling coach Mike Tisza said. "We are trying to prepare them and get them ready because at regionals, if you lose, there is no tomorrow."
Tisza improved his season mark to 33-1 with a convincing performance at 138 pounds. The junior won his first two matches by major decision, then closed out his conference title with a third-period pin of Lemont's Bobby Bromberek. Tisza was ahead the entire match and was up 6-3 prior to the throw that began Tisza's pinning combination.
It was the second consecutive SSC championship for Tisza, who qualified for the Class 3A state meet last year at 113.
"He made me work, but I still finished the way I wanted," Tisza said of Bromberek.
T.F. North's partial squad finished in last place at the tournament. Meteor 170-pound wrestler LeBryon Collins defeated Evergreen Park's Tyler Stanton 2-1 in his opening match but was pinned in the semifinals and edged in wrestlebacks 2-1 by fourth-place finisher Tyler Jurgovan, of Tinley Park.
Collins will attempt to defend his 2011 regional title Saturday in the Class 2A regional at Washington High School.
"I'm proud of him," North coach Jon Hernandez said. "He is in a competitive weight class, and he had a tough opponent in his semifinal match. He just couldn't get off the bottom to score."