MINOOKA — When Saturday morning at 11 a.m. rolls around, the Minooka wrestling team will once again be answering the whistle at the annual IHSA Class 3A Team State Wrestling Tournament. It will mark the fifth straight year the Indians will be making the journey to the event.
"It's always fun to qualify and go down there every year," Minooka senior captain Corbett Oughton said. "I'm used to it, but happy we're back down there again.
"It's been five years in a row now and that's awesome. To get that tradition in the program that we're going to be going down to state as a team. It helps because, in years to come, it gets other kids to come out for the program."
Fellow senior captain Danny Ruettiger said that its refreshing each and every year to go down to the U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
"It's not getting old," he said. "It's nice to get there each year."
"It's always nice to make it and qualify," senior captain Mike McNulty concurred.
This year the Indians come in flying a little bit under the radar — if indeed that is possible. The locals have a 14-7 team dual record and are currently ranked out of the top 20 by Illinois Matmen. Meanwhile, Minooka heads to Bloomington where it will face Marmion Academy — a team ranked third in Class 3A by Matmen.
"I think we're definitely overlooked and deservedly so. We had a mediocre season as far as our dual record goes," Minooka coach Jeff Charlebois said. "Our tournament results aren't a lot to write home about and it doesn't garner a great deal of respect.
"It's a nice position to be in. We've had a few years here at Minooka where we've been the big dogs. So now being someone overlooked is an interesting position for us to be in."
Marmion of Aurora heads down to Bloomington with a solid 24-2 record. In the lineup are two state champions and two other All-State wrestlers.
"At 20 and 32, they are champions. Their 6-pounder is good. They are flat out solid up and down," Charlebois said. "They have a good team. They are flat out good."
At 120, Johnny Jiminez is actually a three-time state champion, and at 132, George Fisher won a state title down at the individual state meet in Champaign.
"I know that they have some studs and two State champions," Oughton said. "It will be a tough dual, but there's always a chance. We're going to have to go out and wrestle our best and see what happens."
Anthony Bosco at 106 was fourth at individual state, and the Cadets' heavyweight Alex Fritzwas sixth.
For a team with that kind of firepower, though, the Indians don't really seem to know a lot about their opening opponent on Saturday.
"I know of their 32-pounder, Fisher," Ruettiger said. "They have some decent studs, but I don't know about the rest of their lineup."
Charlebois said that it's not all that surprising that his team is not familiar with Marmion this year.
"They (the Indians) know the big names who are placing high and winning state. We didn't see Marmion at all this year, other than at the individual state tournament. With no tournaments or duals, our kids just don't know much about them," Charlebois said.
Bosco is currently 41-11, Jiminez 53-2 and Fisher 52-4. Others with 40-plus wins include Jake Field (46-10) at 126, Cody Snodgrass (46-12) at 195 and Fritz (40-19).
What seems to be quite known by the Indians, though, is the fact that bonus points will likely make all the different in that match.
"It will be the difference," Oughton said. "We need to get as many bonus points as we can and we can't give up many."
"It's about staying in position and not giving up bonus points," Ruettiger agreed. "That's probably the biggest thing."
"Bonus points and not giving up bonus points," McNulty added. "I think that no matter what we need to go out and wrestle tough and wrestle smart."
And hope that maybe Marmion might be underestimating the Indians on Saturday morning.
"It would be nice for Marmion to be looking past us. That would be a good thing," Charlebois said. "It would be nice to have some of their big studs looking past us and into the second round or the finals. But I'd have to assume that's not going to happen.
"They have a good coaching staff. Ryan Cumbie's been around. Donnie Reynolds has been around. I'd assume they are going to be prepared, though it would be nice to have them overlook us."