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Oak Forest's Alan Durham celebrates his victory over T.F. South's Jake Tisza during the 120-pound championship match of the South Suburban Conference wrestling tournament at T.F. South High School in Lansing, IL Saturday, January 26, 2013. | Brett Roseman

Not only was it one of the most exciting matches of Alan Durham’s season, but it was also the most pivotal.

Durham, a sophomore at Oak Forest, downed T.F. South freshman Jake Tisza in a blistering 120-pound championship match at the South Suburban Conference Tournament Saturday in Lansing.

The pair repeatedly reversed out of precarious positions in their six-minute chess match, but it was Durham who weathered the storm, and a late ankle injury, with a rousing 12-9 decision.

“I knew he was going to be tough,” Durham said. “At the end when he went in for that double-leg, I just had to keep scrambling until the buzzer. When I stood up, I heard my ankle pop and now I can’t put much weight on it.”

Durham’s victory, along with a title from Mousa Jodeh at 126, helped push Oak Forest to the tournament crown with 155.5 points. The Bengals edged T.F. South (139) and Tinley Park (135) for top honors over the 14-team field.

Blake Tisza (138) and Austin Berryhill (160) each grabbed titles for the Rebels, and Tisza captured his third consecutive crown with an 8-3 victory over Reavis junior Sam Almousa.

Tinley Park seized a couple of titles behind undefeated Derek Schultz (220) and sophomore Bryan Hermann (170).

In one of the tournament’s most anticipated matches, Schultz defeated Oak Forest’s Alec Brown 5-3 in overtime. Schultz (34-0) and Brown (31-2) are both returning state qualifiers and SouthtownStar all-area linebackers.

“There’s a lot of bad blood between Tinley and Oak Forest, so there was a lot of emotions running,” Schultz said. “He’s the toughest guy I’ve wrestled all season. I’ll keep seeing him the next two weeks.”

Oak Lawn (115) finished fourth behind a championship from John Glover at 195 pounds, and Shepard (106) snatched fifth behind a tournament-high three titleholders: Santo Marciano at 106, Dearion Stokes at 132 and Quinton Starzyk at 145.

“I came in with high hopes and I finally came through,” Starzyk said. “I made the semifinals in every tournament this year, but I’d never won until this.”

In a rematch of last season’s 182-pound championship, Lemont’s returning state-placer Chris Giatras edged T.F. South’s Joe Young 3-2 for the second year in a row. Giatras is ranked first in Class AA and Young third in 3A according to Illinois Mat Men.

Other podium-toppers included Reavis junior Jesus Vasquez (113), Richards senior Deion Carter (152) and Eisenhower’s Dion Wells (285).

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