FRANKLIN PARK – Both are four-time state qualifiers, one looking to enter a very select group and the other hoping to reach the ultimate pinnacle for the first time.
Together, Jered Cortez and Jon Marmolejo led a contingent of seven Glenbard North wrestlers to the IHSA individual state competition, which began Thursday in Champaign and continues through Saturday.
Cortez won the 132-pound title at the Class 3A Leyden sectional Feb. 15 and is in search of his fourth consecutive state championship.
According to ihsa.org, only 11 previous wrestlers have accomplished that feat in Illinois.
“It’s just another goal to check off,” Cortez said, “and if I do it, great. But I have other aspirations, like being a National champion and Olympic champion. These are all stepping stones.”
Though Cortez entered the state tourney as the clear-cut favorite, he wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“I didn’t wrestle very well [at the sectional],” he said, “but that wasn’t the weekend where it counts. I’m going to take each match at state one at a time. I have four matches left and my record is 0-0 [going into the state meet]. What I’m thinking about in my head is that I’m not a state champion and I want to be a state champion.”
Someone else who wants to be a state champion is Marmolejo, who finished in fifth place a year ago and sixth in 2012.
The senior, a four-time DVC champ, captured the sectional title at 126 and improved to 41-1 on the winter.
“My mind has been focused on [winning a state title] all year,” Marmolejo said, “and every day my coaches were pushing me toward that goal of winning a state title.
“It has definitely been a different kind of year. I’m coming out with confidence every match.”
Coming in third at the sectional were junior Kirk Johansen (106), freshman Austin Gomez (113), junior Patrick Augustyn and junior Colton Wegner (170). Junior Luke Greenberg added a fourth-place finish at 195.
After wrapping up the individual competition, Glenbard North will resume the team dual state series Tuesday at the Conant sectional against the host Cougars. The winner of that match will head to Bloomington for the state quarterfinals March 1, and would most likely face top-ranked Oak Park-River Forest at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
Emmanuel Garcia (106), Adrian Smiley (160) and Jonathon Garcia (195) competed in the Leyden sectional but did not advance to state. Emmanuel Garcia was fifth at 106.
A trio of Warriors competed at the Class 1A Byron sectional Saturday but none advanced to the IHSA state meet.
Alex Budzisz finished the winter with a record of 37-5 after winning one match at 152 pounds. Josh Dutton also won a match at 195 while Chris Williams wrestled at 220.