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Marmion wrestlers hold up their Class 3A second-place trophy Saturday at the I.H.S.A. Wrestling Dual Team State Finals in Bloomington. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

BLOOMINGTON — Marmion’s wrestling team may not have come home with the top prize in the Class 3A team dual state meet at U.S. Cellular Coliseum Saturday.

But the Cadets showed that they can hang with the big boys.

Wrestling in the largest class, Marmion made it all the way to the finals. Once there, the Cadets fell to Sandburg, 38-17, sending Marmion home with the state runner-up trophy.

“It means a lot,” Marmion junior Johnny Jimenez said. “It’s our first time ever making it to the finals. The team, we all love each other, so it was just really fun. We’re really proud of ourselves. We wanted first, but we’re proud.”

Marmion (26-3) reached the finals via wins over Minooka (39-14) in the quarterfinals and Lincoln-Way Central (33-16) in the semifinals earlier in the day Saturday.

“I knew that we had to perform well to win both rounds,” Marmion coach Ryan Cumbee said. “I know the score might say otherwise, but we knew we were going to go in and have to battle. A lot of those wins were very close, and those are six-point swings every time we win those matches. I was just so happy with everybody’s effort today, from top to bottom, starters to backups, everybody wrestled phenomenally today.”

In the finals, Marmion jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a decision from Mike Callahan, a freshman who was only 7-7 on the season coming into the meet, and a major decision from senior state champion George Fisher. But Sandburg (28-4) rattled off seven straight wins to answer, taking a 32-7 lead and essentially clinching the championship.

The Cadets were without three starters, including the state’s top-ranked 220-pounder, Lucas Warren, due to injuries. That forced young subs like Callahan to step in and fill key roles, another reason Cumbee was so pleased after the long day was over.

“We had so much adversity,” Cumbee said. “For our freshmen, our young class, to come out here and compete as hard as they did with three starters out of the lineup and we come in and take second place? We’re not happy about second place, but if there’s ever a time to have your shoulders back and your chin up after taking second place, this is it.”

Marmion’s individual state champions, Fisher and Jimenez, both went out with three more wins. Fisher’s career wrapped up with a 55-4 record this season, while Jimenez finished at 56-2.

Jimenez, only a junior, headlines a flood of successful underclassmen who will return next year to prove that this second-place finish was no fluke.

“I told them that I want them to remember how this feels and also I want them to see the smiles on the Sandburg kids,” Cumbee said. “That’s where we’re going to be next year. I was excited for our future already, but I’m even more excited now. I can’t wait.”

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