There was plenty of wrestling to go around as area teams took to the mats Saturday for the Palatine megadual meets.
Cary Grove came away as the big winners overall as the Trojans (16-6) went 3-0 on the day with victories over Grayslake North (68-6) in the first round, Lake Zurich (39-22) in the second round, and St. Charles North (72-9) in the final session.
Despite three forfeits in every meet, Lake Zurich (16-5) put together a good day with a 46-27 win over St. Charles North in round one before adding a 56-24 victory over Carmel (13-7) to close out the day.
The Corsairs also went 2-1 with a 40-33 triumph over the host Pirates in their opener along with a 46-27 win over the Knights (12-6) in round two. Palatine (7-12) went 2-1 as they defeated St. Charles North 45-27 in the middle round before posting a dramatic 34-30 win over Grayslake North in its finale.
The Trojans were led by sophomore standout Michael Cullen (31-0) with three wins at 120. Cullen placed fourth in the state as a freshman.
Cary-Grove also got three victories apiece from Sean Cullen at 106, John Cullen (27-6) at 113, Logan Hanselmann (23-6) at 126, Garrett Glueck (22-7) at 152, Matthew Hughes (18-7) at 160, Emerson Kersten (18-6) at 170, and Jeremy Dermont at 285.
"Our kids had a really good week, we introduced some new things, and they responded well," said Cary-Grove coach Ryan Ludwig. "He (Michael Cullen) has a great work ethic, he's a great leader in the room, and I'm very proud of him."
Lake Zurich was led by 3-0 wrestlers Saturday that included Gresh Henderson (29-3) at 132, Brandon Arteaga (28-4) at 138, and Alex Zurawski at 182. The Bears were missing 2012 state qualifier Sean Lynch (145), Jerry Nigro (120), and Emilio Nava due to injury.
"We're giving up a lot of forfeits so we have guys filling in, but we're doing the best with what we've got," said Henderson. "I'm happy with how we're progressing and we're peaking so things are looking very good."
Lake Zurich should be at very close to full strength, but the Bears will still have a very major challenge on their hands if they hope to pull off an upset at Libertyville to close out their North Suburban Lake Division schedule next Friday.
"Today was a testament to our guys who are not superstars and don't get glory throughout the season," said Lake Zurich coach Dan Strickler. "Arteaga had a good win (3-2 decision) against (Mike) Underwood (of Cary-Grove) and he's been getting consistently better. I think he's been kind of surprising some people recently."
Carmel got three wins from 285-pounder Jake Cochrane (28-1) along with teammates Kenny Barber at 113, and Jake Morgan at 120. Due to restrictions on the amount of matches they are allowed to wrestle, the Corsairs were forced to forfeit four matches against the Bears.
"We had three starters out today and we don't have a lot of depth," said Carmel coach Bob Kuykendall, whose squad will compete in Class 2A in the post-season. "So for us to come out of here today with a 2-1 record was not bad."
The Pirates really showed a flair for the dramatic in their victory over Grayslake North with Palatine holding a 31-30 lead over the Knights heading into the winner-take-all 145-pound match to close out the last dual meet of the competition.
With Palatine's Deon Bell getting injured in his previous bout, teammate Nick Gagliano had to face Grayslake North's Jamie McCaulley in the big 145-pound showdown.
McCaulley started off strong with a 4-2 lead before Gagliano tied the score at 4-4 after two periods. Then Gagliano built a 7-4 lead in the third period before his 7-5 decision carried the Pirates to their narrow 34-30 team victory. Palatine was missing Rocky Allen (195) and Austin Hoenning (145) due to injury.
Juan Guarardo (11-1 at 126) went 3-0 overall for Palatine as did teammate Evan Heintz at 106. Palatine's Gavin Frey was 1-0 at 113 Saturday.
"Gagliano was actually filling in for another guy (Bell) and he stepped up huge to win the dual meet," said elated Palatine coach Dan Collins, himself a two-time state champion. "They did phenomenal and this is the first time I saw them come together as a family and they showed a lot of heart."
While the Knights joined St. Charles North with 0-3 records on the day, Grayslake North coach Ryan West was still optimistic and fairly pleased with the effort his Class 2A squad put together Saturday.
"It was a tough day, but overall I've always told my guys if we lose to good teams I'm OK with that," said West. "Our goal is to improve our schedule and I'm happy overall with the effort. The important part is we're wrestling good competition and getting better week to week."
The Knights only trailed Carmel 27-21 after an 8-6 decision by Chase Deatherage at 106. But the Corsairs won four of the final five matches to win the meet going away.