Originally Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2013, 8:56 pm
Last Updated: Feb. 25, 2013, 12:18 am

It's not just football anymore at Geneseo

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Geneseo freshman Tumbo Tumbarello carries the Maple Leafs' Class 2A runner-up trophy into the school gym as he and the wrestling team are welcomed home on Sunday, February 24 2013. Family and friends filled the gym to congratulate the wrestlers and coaching staff on their state tournament success.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Glen Anderson holds his homemade sign as he waits for the Geneseo wrestling team's welcome home ceremony to start on Sunday, February 24, 2013. Mr. Anderson was one of the wrestling fans who attended Sunday's celebration for the IHSA Class 2A runner-up team.

GENESEO -- Travis Mackey does not view Geneseo as just being a football school.

"It's an athletic school," the Geneseo athletic director said.

Despite having one of the state's most storied and respected football programs, Geneseo takes more pride in being competitive across the board. A perfect example is its wrestling team finishing second in the Class 2A dual-team state tournament on Saturday in Bloomington.

The runner-up finish was the school's first non-football state trophy since 1987.

"We've started to accelerate a lot of our programs to be very competitive," Mackey said after the wrestling team's welcome home ceremony on Sunday. "We've been there knocking on the door in pretty much everything. Our mantra is when Geneseo gets off the bus, people know they're going to be in for a battle and our kids are going to be ready to go."

In recent years, the Maple Leafs have been solid in numerous sports. Twice in the last four years, the softball program won a sectional title and the girls' track and cross country programs earned top 10 state finishes.

Baseball won a first-ever regional title last spring and the girls' soccer program has five consecutive regional championships.

However, the school's only state trophy in that stretch came in 2009 when the football team took second.The wrestling team changed that, validating Mackey's belief that Geneseo can do more than play football.

"When you bring home a trophy, it is cherished," Mackey said. "The competition is very good. The wrestling trophy is always going to bring new hope."

The belief now is that the Maple Leafs can earn more hardware in other sports.

"We definitely take pride in our football program," Geneseo wrestling coach Jon Murray said, "but we want to add to it with other programs."

For now, the school will cherish a trophy few outside the program expected when the season started. The Maple Leafs had talent, but most figured a young team was a year or two away from contending for postseason accolades.

In the last three months, they rolled to victory after victory before earning the program's first regional title since 1995. With that out of the way, they advanced to the state tournament for the first time ever and followed that with a trip to the finals.

"Sometimes people say you get lucky, but with luck, you have to be prepared for that to come your way," Mackey said. "We're always going to be prepared to have luck go our way and we're going to be prepared that when adversity hits, we can still put together a competitive team."

At each spot in the lineup, Geneseo was competitive. Fourteen solid individuals filled every weight class, offering no pushover during a dual.

Luck did not carry the Maple Leafs to a second-place trophy. As Mackey put it during his speech, hard work and talent made Geneseo what it was.

All that meant a so-called football school has a wrestling trophy next to the gridiron hardware.

"That," Murray said, "will be pretty cool."