Battered, bruised and hobbled by a knee injured during his first match of the day, Libertyville's Austin Pettinato said he felt like an old man as he searched for an extra large bag of ice to ease his pain.
But after sipping from the fountain of youth, and getting some much-needed recovery time between bouts, the Wildcats senior outlasted state ranked Coord Wiseman of Barrington in a superb match at 145 pounds to help drive his teammates to a 26-24 vitory Saturday afternoon at Barrington.
The edgy 2-point victory gave the Wildcats a 1-1 record on the day, the same as Cary-Grove (7-3).
Central Suburban League power Deerfield finished with the best record of the day at 2-1 following a 32-30 decision over the Broncos (9-3) in the final dual.
"This was a very impressive group of teams," said Barrington coach Ken Hoving, who lost 6 points to a forfeit against Deerfield when Wiseman was unable to go after suffering a hand injury during his match with Pettinato. "There were all sorts of regional implications today with both Cary-Grove and Deerfield in our regional at Lake Zurich, and Libertyville is a strong favorite to win the Grant regional, making the two regional champs opponents in the dual-team sectional.
"On top of that, all four of us are in the sectional here in February, so we're all going to see the best each team has to offer then."
This quad became a marathon as nearly each match ended with a 5-3, 7-4, 2-0 six-minute decision, with the combatants fighting dearly for every point.
"There was some great wrestling out there," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "Many of the matches came down to who would score last before riding out until the end, so it was a lot of fun for the spectators for sure."
Eggert's club got off to a nice start against Deerfield, running out to a 14-3 advantage after Pettinato recorded a 9-0 major decision over Alex Acosta. But the roof caved in on the Cats afterward as the Warriors slowly chipped away at the lead until Jim Kirby's fall at 4:16 put them ahead 18-17.
Kevin Barbara's 9-7 OT win at 220, followed by another OT thriller from heavyweight Chris McDermand pushed the Cats ahead at 23-18. But forfeits at 106 and 113 did them in.
"Deerfield really surprised us with their intensity, but give them credit, they are a very good team," said Eggert, who club is 8-1.
The Warriors (11-2), who graduated the dynamic duo of Artie Bess and Lenny Bloom (they're now at Iowa and Wisconsin), have been a model program ever since coach Marc Pechter took over. Despite the void left by the two state qualifiers, the Warriors seem to be on course to challenge conference rival New Trier for top honors.
Cary-Grove bounced back after a disappointing loss in its opener to Barrington (30-27) to upend the Warriors 31-19. The heart of the Trojans' lineup outscored Deerfield 16-3 after dropping C-G dropped the first match of this dual at 126 pounds.
"I wasn't happy with the effort against Barrington," said Trojans coach Ryan Ludwig. "To be a very good team it has to be a complete team effort. You cannot give up major decisions, or pins in these type of tight matches with superior teams, and I consider Libertyville, Deerfield and Barrington all upper-level teams.
"We lost some matches against Barrington that we shouldn't have, plus we got pinned in key matches. But we came back and did a much better job against Deerfield of winning those close matches, so I was very proud of the effort we gave as a team to get the win."
James Smrt, Mike Underwood, Brandon Aguirre, Garret Glueck and Matt Hughes were a perfect 5-0 from 132 through 160 to give the Trojans a 14-point cushion, but the Warriors, strong at the upper weights with Kirby leading the way, got themselves back even at 16-16 following a pin by the 195-pounder.
Gritty work from Nick Huff (220) and Jeramey Dermont (285) helped C-G to grab back the lead at 22-16, and one match later, Michael Cullen (113) finished off the Warriors with his second pin of the day.
Cary-Grove and Libertyville did not compete against each other in advance of an upcoming dual between the teams.
The much anticipated Barrington-Libertyville dual was a beauty right until the end. After the Cats conceded two forfeits to give the hosts a 24-23 lead, senior Steve Polakowski won it for the Broncos when he pitched a 5-0 shutout in the final contest at 120 pounds.
The Pettinato-Wiseman was the highlight of this 14-match battle, with heavyweights McDermand vs. Ben Calamari of Barrington a close second.
A late deuce put Pettinato up 2-0 after the first period, but a second-period filled with plenty of hand fighting ended 2-2 when Wiseman finished off a nifty single as the clock ticked down.
Neither star gave an inch in the third and final period, but after Wiseman scored an escape to go up 3-2, Pettinato, the 2012 NSC champ, grabbed the lead for good with a takedown with six seconds left in regulation.
"I forfeited my match to (Coord) at sectionals last season because of an ankle injury I suffered in my regional final, and went out and gave it my all in the backdraw but lost (7-6) to Michael Carbajal (of Waukegan) and that was it for me," said Pettinato. "I was all go-go-go last year because it's all about the team, and I don't want to let them down. But this year, I am trying to be a little smarter in dealing with injuries, because I want to be there at end when it really counts for the team, then myself."
McDermand (9-4) defeated Calamari, who is clearly less than 100 percent as he continues to fight an ankle sprain.
"We thought at first Coord had dislocated his wrist, but it appears to be a sprain," said Hoving. "So like everyone else, we're dealing with a few injuries and a few guys who are sick and fighting the flu.
"Today was a great barometer for us to see where we're at, and we're right there with all of them."