The recruiting push is over, and now Jered Cortez and Johnny Jimenezcan turn their attention to making history.
The rising seniors and former teammates both have made college choicesthis summer, months before starting their quest to join Illinoiswrestling’s most exclusive club. Both are three-time state champsbidding to become the 12th and 13th wrestlers ever to earn four IHSAtitles.
As freshmen at Marmion in 2011, they won Class 2A crowns — Jimenez at103 pounds and Cortez at 112. Cortez then transferred to GlenbardNorth, where he has captured 3A titles at 120 in 2012 and 126 earlierthis year. Jimenez has since won crowns at 113 (2A) in 2012 and 120(3A) last season.
Cortez is heading to Illinois after making what he calls “a prettyhard decision” last week.
“The [recruiting] thing started pretty early,” Cortez said. “Once July1 hit, I was getting phone calls from schools. I kind of had my listnarrowed down, went out of town for a weekend and thought about it alot.”
Illinois won out for a variety of reasons.
“I like all the kids on the team, the coaching staff,” Cortez said.”They’re trying to build a program. I want to be a part of buildingsomething special.”
Though staying close to home wasn’t at the top of his priority list,Illinois’ proximity to family and friends certainly didn’t hurt.
“They’re going to be able to come to all the Big Ten duals and I cancome home over the weekend for a home-cooked meal,” Cortez said.
Having the process done is a plus. “Now I can go into my senior yearfocused on winning a state title,” Cortez said.
So can Jimenez, who had committed to Wisconsin.
“I always wanted to compete in the Big Ten,” he said. “That was alwaysthe goal for schools.”
And the Badgers rose to the top of the pack. “I really loved thecampus,” Jimenez said. “The coaches were awesome. They really takecare of the wrestlers there. “
Now he’ll be trying to take care of business: “I was coming into highschool with the goal of being a four-time state champion.”
Contributing: Kevin McGavin