Marist's Mike Mullaney )front) wrestles Sandburg's Christian Robertson (right) in the 126-pound weight class for the IHSA Individual Regional (9T) at Shepard High School in Palos Heights Saturday, February, 8, 2014. | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 10, 2014 6:49AM
When Jakada Hull stepped on the mat Saturday, Marist didn’t need his points.
The RedHawks took a 29-point lead over two-time defending Class 3A state champ Sandburg into the final round of the Shepard Regional. And Marist already had won seven title bouts before Hull took on Sandburg’s Patrick Brucki in the 170-pound championship.
But Hull didn’t wrestle like his match meant nothing. The junior, who weighs just 155, used an overtime takedown to win 5-3, just another highlight of many for the RedHawks in their first regional title run since 2011.
Marist had big dreams the past two seasons but found its path blocked by Sandburg both times. This time, the RedHawks beat the Eagles 256-210 to advance to the Marist team sectional later this month.
Marist also qualified 12 individuals for the Hinsdale Central individual sectional next weekend, one fewer than Sandburg.
“I’ve been waiting for this the last three years,” said Hull, who improved to 30-7. “We’re going to try to get a state trophy this year, make some noise.”
Senior Peter Andreotti (34-2), the 160 champ, has been waiting even longer.
“It sucks, there’s no other word to describe it,” he said of failing to advance in the state series in 2012 and 13. “We’re a top-20 team in the country and not wrestling at state. That just shows how good Illinois [wrestling] is.
“We’ll get our shot this year, and it’s always in our minds that we haven’t been there the last two years. So we’ve got something to prove.”
Hull proved a couple things: that being undersized doesn’t matter and having good practice partners does. He works daily with Andreotti and junior Alex Benoit (33-2), who won at 182 Saturday and is top-ranked in Class 3A by IllinoisMatmen.com.
“They’re really strong and Peter’s really funky,” Hull said, adding jokingly, “It’s pretty tough because I get the crap kicked out of me every day.”
“Jakada knows he wrestles the top tier of competition every day in practice,” said Andreotti, a two-time state placer. “I know mentally he’s there. Physically, he may not be there with his weight. But his heart’s strong and he’s a great wrestler.”
So is Benoit, but he’s not putting a lot of stock in his ranking.
“It’s pretty good but you can never be satisfied with that,” he said.
“I haven’t earned anything. I haven’t won anything, I’m not a state champion.”
Thornwood’s Kris Williams (24-0), meanwhile, is a two-time state champ, going for a third title. He won the 120 final 3-2 over Marist’s Mark Duda (28-5), the same wrestler he beat in the 3A 113 state final last year.
“This match was pretty good [but] there’s still more for me to prove,”
Williams said. “I could have done a lot better. I could have tried to push the tempo more.”
Marist wound up with 10 champs among its 12 finalists. Also taking first were Jim McAuliffe (28-8 at 106), Nick Lukanich (25-7 at 113), Mike Mullaney (17-9 at 126), Ameen Hamdan (24-12 at 132), Mario Leveille (26-6 at 138), Nick Gasbarro (22-5 at 152) and Jake Ford (28-9 at 285).
Sandburg had titles from John Pellegrino (30-3 at 145) and Hunter Pindel (36-3 at 195).
“It’s different not going to team state, but from an individual standpoint it’s not too different for me,” Pellegrino said. “I’ve been to state three times, I’m used to it. Next year, they’ll be back. They’re tough.”
Thornwood had the other two champs in Williams and 220-pounder Dwayne Franklin (9-1).