Wrestling: Sandburg comes back to down Oak Park for 3A state title

Story Image Sandburg's Mitch Cook celebrates his 24-24 game tying pin against Oak Park-River Forest's Jake Omara (not pictured) during the 138 weight division of the IHSA wrestling dual team state championship Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, in the U.S. Cellular Coliseum at 101 S. Madison St. in Bloomington. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: February 25, 2012 10:10PM

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Sandburg's Mitch Cook knew a team could come from 14 points down in the finals to win a state wrestling title.

Two years ago, he saw that scenario unfold from the losing side. On Saturday at U.S. Cellular Coliseum, he made sure it happened the other way around.

Down 8-6 in the closing seconds of his Class 3A 138-pound match against Oak Park-River Forest’s Jake Omara, Cook got the tying takedown and then locked up a cradle that turned into a fall at 5:47. That stunning turnaround tied the score and Colin Holler then pinned Zach Pickering in 2:30 at 145 to cap the Eagles’ thrill-a-minute title run.

Sandburg (27-2) won its first state championship since 2007 by getting past SouthWest Suburban Conference rival Lockport 33-24 in the quarterfinals, rallying past defending champ Glenbard North 29-25 in the semis and coming from behind again to edge Oak Park 30-24.

“I’ll wake up tomorrow and this is going to seem like a dream, that I got a pin in one of the last few matches and then we won state,” Cook said.

The Huskies got a fall from 182 state champ Sam Brooks at 195 and led 20-6 through 285 pounds in a match that started at 152. But Cook remembered what happened when he was a freshman and Minooka came back from the same deficit to beat the Eagles in the 3A final.

“I’ve seen that anything can happen to anyone,” Cook said, noting Jim Pellegrino’s 6-4 overtime win over 3A runner-up Matt Rundell at 106. That got the comeback started, with Jim Panozzo (113), Sebastian Pique (120) and John Pellegrino (126) all winning decisions to make it 20-18.

Cameron Harris won a major decision to put the Huskies up 24-18 and set the stage for Cook and Holler.

“Mitch was looking like he was going to lose that match and he never gave up, and got the fall,” Holler said. “That took a lot of pressure off me.”

But not Sandburg coach Eric Siebert.

“My hair is turning gray and falling out as we speak,” he said. “There’s been a lot of stress to get to this point.”

And no shortage of drama. In the semis, Sandburg apparently went down 29-20 to Glenbard North with three matches left when 120 state champ Jered Cortez got a first-period fall. But Cortez was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct call, costing the Panthers one team point, and coach Mark Hahn was ejected for flagrant misconduct, deducting three more team points to make it 25-20.

Three narrow decisions – by Pique (wrestling up a weight at 126), John Pellegrino (132) and Cook (138) – lifted the Eagles past Glenbard North (20-5), which later beat Barrington (18-4) 34-21 for third place.

Counting Marist, which Sandburg beat to win the regional and get into the team state series, the Eagles knocked off all of the top 3A teams along the road to Bloomington.

“We talked about how special it would be to win,” Siebert said. “It carries a little different weight to it.” And no shortage of memories.

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