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Montini head coach Israel Martinez and the Broncos celebrate their Class 2A championship Saturday in Bloomington. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
BLOOMINGTON — The hours Montini’s wrestlers spend after school every day and before practice doing their homework has paid off.
One Broncos senior, Tommy Pawelski, is going to Stanford and another, Jordan Laster, is going to Princeton.
But they’re going to be athletes as well as students at those academic powerhouses, which is one indication of how good Montini is on the mat.
Two more pieces of evidence were delivered Saturday night, when the Broncos cruised past Geneseo 49-10 in the Class 2A state championship at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
It was Montini’s 11th title, breaking a tie with Providence for the most in state history. And it was the Broncos’ sixth consecutive championship, tying Providence’s title run from 1997 to 2002 as the longest ever.
“It’s awesome,” Pawelski said. “It gets better every year. The expectations just keep getting higher.”
“Every state title means a lot to me,” said third-year coach Israel Martinez, “because it means a lot to the boys that I basically live with for four months a year and dedicate my life to.”
The title came a month to the day after Montini lost 34-29 to Oak Park-River Forest, the Broncos’ first loss to an in-state opponent since 2007.
That got the attention of Jake Turk, among others. “It definitely made us pick it up,” Turk said. “It made us pick up our work ethic, get our heads back in focus.”
The setback was “more of a reality [check],” according to Martinez.
“[It said], ‘OK guys, we’re not that good when we’re beat up and tired. We have to regroup.’”
Montini did just that. The Broncos cruised through the postseason, winning four individual titles last weekend and breezing to wins over Lincoln-Way West (52-9) and Sycamore (43-25) in the first two rounds on Saturday. In the finals, the Broncos won eight of the first nine matches to go up 34-3 and coasted home.
Pawelski (120 pounds) and Vince Turk (126) had pins against first-time finalist Geneseo, while Laster (132), Michael Sepke (145), Xavier Montalvo (160) and Jake Turk (182) all had technical falls.
Sycamore (19-5) beat Antioch (17-16) 45-19 for third place. The Sequoits beat Public League champ Bowen for the second straight season in the quarterfinals, prevailing 31-27 and preventing the Boilermakers from becoming the first city school to earn a trophy since Lane in 2000.