Opening night was a smashing success for Schaumburg as the Saxons overpowered Upstate Eight Conference foes Streamwood and host Bartlett in a double-dual Wednesday evening.
The two-victory night was a nice tune-up for the Saxons in advance of their date with top-rated Oak Park-River Forest (in 3A) and 1A's top team, Dakota, this Friday at Central Suburban League power New Trier.
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"This was a good way to get our season started, but it will be a little more intense the day after Thanksgiving," said Saxons coach Mike Levanti after watching his team roll past Streamwood 74-6 in its second dual of the night.
"We're all a little rusty right now, but we'll have to be ready for an intense day Friday morning," said Schaumburg senior Matt Stopka, who, along with Luke Gruszka and Saddarriss Patterson, were state qualifiers last season.
Stopka, who won 37 times last year and finished one victory shy of a state medal, earned all-American honors at Fargo during the off-season.
The Saxons found themselves in a close matchup against Bartlett when a forfeits at 126 and 145 allowed the Hawks to draw closer at 24-21. But consecutive pins from Tony Vezzetti (152), Luke Gruszka (160), Patterson (170) and Mike Bruno (182) ended Bartlett's hopes.
"Schaumburg has a real nice lineup, and we had some real good matches and efforts along the way, but it's early and I don't think there's anyone that puts too much stock in what happens on the first week of the season," said Bartlett coach John O'Brien, whose team opened its season with a win over East Aurora.
Bartlett later took advantage of 6 forfeits and 4 pins in handling Elk Grove 66-6 to finish its night.
The Elk Grove-Streamwood dual was the most evenly matched of the night, decided in the final three matches after Clayton Surges (160) of Streamwood put his team ahead 33-30 with an exciting 7-5 decision over Mike Olson.
But back-to-back falls registered by Sean Oldenberg (170) and Ethan Hartowicz at 182 sealed the deal for the Grens and coach Phil Winters, who is in his second year leading Elk Grove.
"That was a real good effort the guys gave against Streamwood," said Winters. "We have a lot of new guys once again this year, but we also have a bunch of sophomores back who took their lumps as freshmen a year ago. They've come back much stronger this season, and I believe we'll see better results from them, and others."
Winters' counterpart over at Streamwood, Bill Peach, feels much the same way as the Grens' coach.
"There sure isn't a lack of effort or hard work with this group, which is very young but willing to put in the time in order to get better," said Peach. "The thing I really liked was the guys took chances and tried some things, instead of just playing it cautious, and that will go a long way in their development."
The Sabres will be idle until Dec. 6, when they host St. Charles North. Elk Grove will enjoy a few more days away from the competition before hosting Buffalo Grove, Palatine and Schaumburg on Dec. 5 in an MSL double dual.
Schaumburg flexed its collective muscle once again in its big win over Streamwood, using a flurry of pins. wrapped around a handful of 6-point forfeits.
Varsity newcomers Rafael Garcia and Jeremy Claudio at 120 and 138 each pitched in with a fall, as did another varsity rookie, junior Tyler Alanis, at 220.
Luke Gruszka, who spend under a minute on the mats during his two bouts, needed just 27 seconds against Streamwood. Younger brother Logan Gruszka, who's grown from a sectional qualifier at 106 into a big 132-pounder this season, recorded a fall in between Garcia and Claudio.
"Luke is every bit of 132 this year, and he's looking very good early on, as is Sadarriss, who is back with us from football, and looking ready to go," said Levanti. "All of the guys will have a big test on Friday with the two No. 1's, and a New Trier team which is so good on top, and has quality up and down its lineup. It should be fun."
Hawks senior Anthony Zipparo and his teammates will be on the road at Jacobs this Saturday for the second annual Mega-Duals in Algonquin. The Bartlett captain, who has won 50-plus matches over the past two seasons, is looking forward to finding that elusive trip downstate in hopes of following in the footsteps of his best friend -- that's 2012 state champion Sal Annoreno, who is now wrestling at NIU.
"Having Sal in the room inspired all of us, and not having him around means all of us have to find a way to motivate ourselves for the season ahead," said Zipparro. "For me, the motivation is to work as hard as Sal did, to perfect the things I do well and take advantage of the opportunities which come my way."