With a fourth divisional title in five years looming in the background, the Libertyville wrestling team took to the mat Friday night against visiting Lake Zurich.
And that goal became a reality for the ninth-ranked Wildcats as they posted a 49-13 North Suburban Conference victory over the Bears to win their fourth Lake Division crown since 2009.
Sixteenth-ranked Grant won its second straight Prairie Division championship Friday with a victory over visiting Lakes. The Bulldogs are expected to be Libertyville's toughest competition next weekend when the NSC meet is held at Stevenson.
Starting the dual meet at 195 pounds, the Wildcats took an early 3-0 lead when Mark Dunsing posted a 5-0 decision over Aaron Hussey.
At 220, Kevin Barbian recorded another one of his quick pins in 46 seconds for a 9-0 lead before heavyweight Chris McDermand's forfeit win made the score 15-0.
Lake Zurich (17-5, 4-2) got on the scoreboard when 106-pounder Josh Spiwak recorded a 5-1 decision over Joey Locascio.
But a forfeit win by Libertyville 113-pounder Dan Schilling was followed by a hard-fought 5-3 win by teammate Noah Strong over Lake Zurich's Emilio Nava.
Then Libertyville's Steve Polakowski (ranked sixth at 120) pinned 126-pounder Jerry Nigro in 3:35 and the Wildcats held a 30-3 advantage.
"He (Nigro) just took a bad shot and I was able to grab his arm and toss him to his back," said Polakowski. "I feel pretty well prepared, I work pretty hard in practice, and that's about all we can do now is to get in shape for the end of the season."
The Bears put together a brief rally as a pin by 132-pounder Gresh Henderson (30-3) and a 13-5 major decision by 138-pounder Brandon Arteaga cut the lead to 30-13 with five matches remaining.
But sophomore Joey Gunther (ranked sixth at 138) stopped the momentum with a 10-2 major decision over Imran Peters at 145.
Then came a brutally physical match at 152 as Libertyville's Austin Pettinato overcame a 6-2 deficit after one period before forcing overtime (tied at 8-8) with a takedown on Sean Lynch with 26 seconds left in the third period.
Pettinato got a takedown 20 seconds into overtime to secure a gut-wrenching 10-8 decision.
It was all Libertyville the rest of the way with Sal Ayala posting a 5-1 decision over Nick Tuthill at 160 before teammate Kayne MacCallum (ranked fourth at 160) won by forfeit at 170.
Libertyville's Austin Koziol closed out the meet with a 6-3 decision over Alex Zurawski at 182.
"We had some great wins, obviously at 120 Noah (Strong) was battling back the whole time, he got the takedown and he beat a very good guy," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "Needless to say 152 our guy (Pettinato) was down 7-2 at one point and he kept digging."
Nobody was even close to beating Libertyville in Lake Division dual meets this season.
"We had a lot of competitive matches, we just didn't seem to come out on top," said Lake Zurich coach Dan Strickler. "But at the end of the day I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do at the conference tournament, hopefully we can do a little better."