* * *
Glenbard North's Tony Ramos was so disgusted by his performance during Saturday's 125-pound Class 3A title bout in the state wrestling tournament that he couldn't even imagine smiling.
And he won.
The flamboyant Ramos, sporting a T-shirt that said "T-Ram" and headgear with an Iowa Hawkeye logo, got past Sandburg's Jon Morrison 3-1 in overtime in the tournament's most anticipated matchup.
It didn't live up to the hype, Ramos said.
"I'm not happy at all," Ramos said. "I did what I had to do. I still beat him, but it's one of my bad matches. Definitely very disappointed in how I performed. I really don't know what else to say. I just have to go back and think about how to get better."
Such are the expectations surrounding Ramos, Glenbard North's first three-time state champion and owner of a 48-2 record. He was unbeaten against in-state wrestlers.
"I knew I was going to win the match. I wanted to win by five or more or I wouldn't be happy," Ramos said. "I knew he was going to be nervous. I was in his head. He hasn't beat me since the eighth grade."
Ramos will wrestle at Iowa, Morrison at Oklahoma State, and fans expected an entertaining tussle. Instead, it was mostly a defensive battle with both wrestlers stationary on their feet, not unlike some heavyweight bouts.
The wrestlers traded escape points until overtime, when Ramos caught a leg and scored the takedown with seven seconds left in the period.
"Fans wanted to see a match; we didn't give them a match," Ramos said. "Not enough scoring. They come to see high-scoring matches. We were going hard, but (that's) not the type of match fans want to see. I thought it was pretty boring."
Ramos blamed Morrison, whose only two defeats this season were against Ramos.
"I knew going into the match that he was going to be stalling scared because last time we wrestled, he didn't do nothing," Ramos said. "He couldn't get in, he couldn't escape. I thought (his) game plan was to keep it tight and get a late one in the end. I wrestled his match."
Ramos hopes to be smiling atop a different medal stand in seven years.
"My main goal is an Olympic gold medal in 2016," he said. "I'm hoping it's in Chicago."
* * *
Mount Prospect senior Matt Boggess showed he has a sense of humor.
One year ago, Boggess was the favorite at 135 pounds but a few seconds in the final, he was injured and carted off to a nearby hospital with a concussion.
After healing, Boggess picked up where he left off, coming to Champaign with a 41-0 record. He zoomed through the 3A 140-pound bracket, finishing off the title with a 13-3 win against Donny Simpson of Romeoville in what he termed "by far the best six minutes I've ever wrestled."
When the final buzzer sounded, a jubilant Boggess turned toward his supporters in the Assembly Hall stands, pointed to his head and gave the "OK" sign with his fingers.
"I was just kind of making a little joke about getting knocked out last year," he said.
But that scary episode – and his stunning loss at state when 43-0 as a sophomore – only made Saturday's achievement more special.
"It just makes everything worth it, it really does," Boggess said. "I'd go through all of it again."
* * *
Fox Lake Grant's Lee Munster thumped Lockport's Mark Stenberg 19-6 to win the 3A title at 171, earning an impressive distinction in the process.
Munster, a junior who has committed to Northwestern, won the Class 2A crown at 119 as a freshman. It's believed Munster has matched Lombard Montini's Mike Benefiel as winners of multiple titles with the greatest disparity in weight.
Munster wrestled at 140 last year and flamed out in the state tourney.
"I redeemed myself from last year, and I want to keep going from there," Munster said.
* * *
He needed triple overtime to do it, but Dakota's Seth Milks became a four-time state champion when he decisioned Kewanee's Jermaine McKnight 5-4 at 130 pounds in Class 1A.
Milks is the 11th wrestler to win four crowns.
"I've been working for this my whole life, and to finally get it feels amazing," Milks said.
* * *
Illinois has two wrestlers ranked among the nation's best, according to WIN Magazine. They had mixed success.
Oak Park-River Forest's Ellis Coleman, ranked fourth nationally at 135, rebounded from Friday's stunning defeat to pin his way through the consolation bracket. He pinned four foes to place third in 3A.
Fenwick's Bobby Barnhisel, ranked fourth nationally at 152, won the 3A title, defeating Lockport's Kevin Bialka 5-0 in overtime.
* * *
Lombard Montini matched a state record Saturday by collecting four individual state titles. The Broncos sent nine wrestlers to the semifinals and six to the finals in Class 2A. The champions were Stephen Robertson (125), Isaiah Gonzalez (160), Carl Foreside (189) and Grant Goebel (215).
* * *
Former Illini Tyrone Byrd, who won a pair of Class 1A state titles at 171 for Clinton in 2000-01, returned to the Assembly Hall as a coach.
Byrd is the head coach at Lincoln-Way East, which sent one wrestler to the semifinals. His 145-pounder, A.J. Knoll, placed fourth.
* * *
When Sterling Newman's Ryan Gilbert defeated Macomb's Jesse Kugler 16-5 in the 1A 152-pound final, a state record owned by Mahomet-Seymour was erased.
Gilbert's title was Sterling Newman's 28th in 1A competition, breaking the mark owned by M-S. The Bulldogs haven't competed in 1A, however, in a decade.
* * *
There was only one title bout that featured two unbeaten wrestlers, and it lived up to the billing.
Chicago De La Salle's Curtis Blaydes (37-0) beat O'Fallon's Terrell Pugh (49-1) 9-8 in the 3A heavyweight match.
* * *
As he does annually, Rob Sherrill from The Illinois Best Weekly scored the state tournaments with points awarded for how a school's qualifiers fared.
The top 10 in Class 1A: 1. Wilmington 74; 2. Petersburg Porta 58; 3. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley/Fisher 54; 4. Bishop McNamara 50 1/2; 5. Macomb 46; 6. Kewanee 40; 7. Murphysboro 39; 8. Canton 36; 9. Harvard 35; and 10. Sterling Newman 32.
In Class 2A: 1. Lombard Montini 190; 2. Crystal Lake Central 90 1/2; 3. Civic Memorial 64; 4. Lemont 60; 5. Geneseo 46 1/2; 6. Mahomet-Seymour 43; 7. Triad 33; 8. Yorkville 26; 9. Rockford East 23; and 10. Springfield 22.
In Class 3A: 1. Oak Park-River Forest 83; 2. Lockport 72 1/2; 3. Marian Catholic 60; 4. Providence New Lenox 57; 5. Neuqua Valley 52; 6. Glenbard North 49 1/2; 7. De La Salle 44; 8. Marist 41; 9. Batavia 39; and 10. O'Fallon 37 1/2.
Montini's point total broke the unofficial state record, set by the school in 2002 (150 1/2).