The 28th Annual Wheeling Wildcat Invitational gave area teams and individuals an up-close look at the top team in the state Saturday.
Sandburg more than lived up to its reputation as the Eagles built a commanding lead over runner-up Lake Zurich heading into the final round before easily capturing the championship of the nine-team meet by a comfortable 287-138 margin over the Bears.
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Wheaton Warrenville South took third place with 108.5 points followed closely by Stevenson (104 points) in fourth and Maine West (100 points) in fifth.
The host Wildcats placed sixth with 83 points to nip Lane Tech (80 points) in seventh. Grayslake Central (19 points) placed eighth.
Lake Zurich's road to second place was led by individual champions Jerry Nigro (8-6) at 120 and Gresh Henderson (14-2) at 138.
Nigro toppled Maine West's Adeel Afshar (15-3) 6-3 in their championship bout while Henderson shut out Sandburg freshman Brian Krasowski 9-0 in the finals.
The Bears also got second-place medals from Brandon Arteaga at 138, Sean Lynch at 160, and Alex Zurawski at 182. Nick Tuthill (13-4) placed third for Lake Zurich at 152 while junior teammate Marcos Perez placed fourth at 285.
"This tournament was particularly good for Nigro, and I think this will light the fire for him after getting off to a slow start this season," said Lake Zurich coach Dan Strickler. "Henderson has just steadily gotten better and better and this is great because this is his senior year."
The highlight of the day for Stevenson had to be fourth-ranked senior Justin Weber's 152-pound championship match against third-ranked Mitch Cook of Sandburg, who took fourth in the state last season.
The two wrestlers battled it out to a 1-1 deadlock after three periods before Weber got a takedown 21 seconds into overtime for a 3-1 decision for the title. Weber (14-1) has committed to wrestle at Wisconsin next winter where he will join his older brother Brandon with the Badgers.
"These Carl Sandburg guys train so hard and he (Cook) was able to keep up with my movement so he was hard to score on," said Weber, whose only loss was at the Barrington tourney. "I think I dictated the pace for most of the match so by the end of the match he was tired."
The Patriots were solid at the upper weights with second-place performances from Ian Burns (13-2) at 170, Ned Valtchev at 195, and Seth Harris at 220. Both Burns and Valtchev lost to No. 1-ranked wrestlers in the state.
Stevenson's Joel Feldstein won an exciting 5-4 decision over Maine West's Ryan Burkhardt for third place at 113 while 106-pound teammate Evan Rodriguez posted a 12-6 decision over Maine West's D.J. Meyer for third at 106. Stevenson's David Cadieux placed fourth at 120.
"Having a relatively young and inexperienced team, to finish fourth against this tough competition we were pleased with some performances and we know we need to work in other areas," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook. "To win a hard-fought match (against Cook) is a huge confidence builder (for Weber) and those are the matches you train hard for, to win matches like that."
Maine West got seconds from Afshar at 120 and Jamie Marquez at 285 while teammates Joey Vogeny (14-5 at 170) and Mitch Riportella (182) took third. The Warriors got fourth-place finishes from Meyer, Burkhardt, and Brendon Hanak at 160.
"I thought they wrestled pretty tough and we always know this a good tournament to see where we stand," said Maine West coach Lance Weber. "Our heavyweight (Marquez) and our 120-pounder (Afshar) did really well. He (Afshar) has been wrestling tough and he is the only guy on our team who wrestled here last year after taking fourth in this tournament."
Wheeling got a runner-up medal from David Rodriguez at 113, along with thirds from freshman Tulga Zuunbayan (12-4 at 138), James Cooke at 195, and Sal Dominguez at 220. Sophomore Ricky Muro placed fourth for the Wildcats at 126.
"We're wrestling with six sophomores in our lineup and one freshman so we're very young, but we had one finalist and three thirds," said Wheeling coach Neal Weiner. "Sandburg is the best team in Illinois so they're exceptional. It's a learning curve with sophomores wrestling varsity and Rodriguez getting second is an awesome accomplishment so he's doing very well right now."
Grayslake Central was led by Sid Carbone (16-7) with a fourth-place finish at 145.