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Cortez takes aim at next year moments after winning third straight state title

Glenbard North's Jered Cortez celebrates his third straight state title after his championship match Saturday in Champaign.
Glenbard North's Jered Cortez celebrates his third straight state title after his championship match Saturday in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN — Having not tasted defeat in more than two years, Jered Cortez had lofty aspirations for himself in his return trip to Champaign last weekend.

The goal wasn't just to win his third straight individual title — he was determined to not wrestle a full match at the Class 3A state meet.

And though in the end the junior had to go the distance in the championship match at 126-pounds, that didn't take away from his accomplishment after securing a 9-1 major decision over Jordan Northrup of Harlem.

"Overall, it was a very good weekend," Cortez said. "It's an unreal feeling. Waking up on Sunday morning, it kind of hit me. Saturday night, my body went numb, everything kind of went numb. I don't even remember a lot of the title match. That happens when you are in the zone."

To Cortez, who captured the Class 2A title at 112 as a freshman at Marmion before transferring to Glenbard North, each of the three titles is special.

"You have lots of ups and downs in each season," he said, "a lot of obstacles along the way and different stress levels. Each one represents how much work you put in and all the sacrifices and all the time spent in reaching one goal."

The ultimate goal for Cortez, who grew up around the sport with his dad a former wrestler and a coach of two high school state champion teams in Colorado, has always been to capture four high school state titles.

And it didn't take long for the junior to start thinking about that.

"That's been my goal since I was 4 years old," he said. "My dad always told me, you have to win one before you can win two, you have to win two before you can win three and you have to win three before you can win four.

"When I went up and hugged him after the match, he said now you can think about winning four. That's the number, that's the big one. I remember going to the state tournament as a kid and sitting in the stands. I idolized the kids who won four state titles. They would get a standing ovation and I always remember getting chills."

While Cortez was riding an emotional high, Panthers senior Brian Murphy was on the other end of the spectrum after finishing runner-up for a third consecutive season.

Murphy, who entered the state tournament with one loss, dropped a 6-5 decision to undefeated Kyle Langenderfer of Lincoln-Way East in the championship match at 152. The senior also took second at 152 a year ago and at 140 as a sophomore.

"I've got to look at it that better things are going to come," said Murphy, who also quarterbacked Glenbard North's football team to the Class 8A runner-up trophy last fall. "I have to keep working hard. The goal is to win an NCAA title now. I have to work hard for that."

Cortez shared the same sentiment.

"My heart goes out to Brian and his family," Cortez said. "He's been the face of our program the last couple of years and he's the quarterback of the football team. It's tough to see not only my teammate but my friend have heartbreak like that. He is a kid that does everything right.

"But I've thought about it and I know what potential he has. He might not have won a state title but he will win a national title for the University of Michigan, I have no doubt about that."

Jon Marmolejo (fifth at 120) and and Johnny Gosinski (fifth at 132) also earned medals.


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