After losing to Grant by 19.5 points last weekend at the North Suburban Conference meet, the Libertyville wrestling team was ready to get some revenge Saturday at their own Class 3A regional.
The visiting Bulldogs only trailed the Wildcats by 7.5 points heading into the final round, but playing "catch up" the rest of the way was not a winning formula as Libertyville put away its constant nemesis by a final score of 214.5 to 192.
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In the process, the Wildcats won their 27th regional championship in school history and they advanced to the team sectional Feb. 25 against McHenry regional champion Barrington at a site to be determined.
The top three wrestlers in each weight class advanced to the Class 3A Barrington individual sectional next weekend.
From the outset, Libertyville's senior-dominated lineup was motivated, and the Wildcats were not to be denied this regional crown as they had six individual champions and one second-place finisher to get the job done.
As was the case at the NSC meet, Grant's lower weights got rolling early on with first-place finishes from Christian Kanzler (36-4) at 106, and Nick Koch (36-4) at 113.
Then in the only head-to-head match in the finals, Libertyville standout Steve Polakowski (36-1) posted an 18-8 major decision over Grant's Gage Datlovsky for the 120-pound crown.
Grant junior Noah Drabek (21-3 at 126) and senior teammate Troy Parent (27-9 at 132) followed with first-place medals.
But trailing 5-0 after two periods, Mundelein senior Matt Hutchison (17-14) pulled off a stunning 7-6 victory over Grant's Cristian Coronado for the 138-pound title.
Then the Mustangs' did it again at 145 as senior Joey Laurie (33-9) held off Grant's Mike Kouvelis, 11-10 for first place.
"We were fortunate enough to win the close ones last week and this week we didn't," said Grant coach Ryan Geist, whose squad had nine wrestlers qualify for sectionals to 11 for Libertyville. "But I want to congratulate (coach) Dale Eggert and Libertyville. They did a great job of bouncing back after last week and they had a great tournament."
As has been the case the entire 2013-14 season, the Wildcats took command at the higher weights with championships from Joey Gunther (33-6) at 152, Kayne MacCallum (36-1) at 170, Austin Koziol (26-5) at 182, Kevin Barbian (33-3) at 220, and Chris McDermand (34-3) at 285.
"The game plan was to just win all of the matches we could and we won really big matches at just the perfect times," said MacCallum. "I really hope that we can just put together a good dual meet against whoever we get and I just hope we can get to the dual state tournament because that is an experience I have not had yet in my four years here."
After the disappointing results at the NSC meet, the very motivated Wildcats did not let their coaches and fans down Saturday in their home gym.
"They got beat last week, it was on our home mat (Saturday), and it would have been a shame if they didn't win, but it was certainly possible as good as Grant is," said Eggert. "Our upper weights were doing pretty much the same as the conference meet. But today we scored a lot of points at lower weights that we didn't get (last week)."
Mundelein finished in third place with 100 points to edge Warren (95.5) in fourth.
Besides champs Hutchison and Laurie, the Mustangs got second-place finishes from Ray Ceniceros at 106 and Sam Riportella at 132.
"I'm happy -- we wanted to try to get seven out, but we battled hard and we wrestled hard," said Mundelein coach Vinny Jiuditta. "He (Hutchison) is all heart, he's a guy who has wrestled hard, and he was down but he never gave up against a really tough competitor."
Libertyville's Colton Bast led Warren's Emery Parker (33-2) 3-0 with 25 seconds left in the 160-pound title match. But Parker came up huge with a takedown and a near pin to win the title 5-3.
Sawyer McCaffery placed second for the Blue Devils at 285.
"It was a good match (for Parker), it wasn't his best offense, but it was a good match," said Warren coach Jim Ouimette. "Zach Khoury (third) made it out of a very difficult 195-pound weight class and (Eric) Shurson (third at 170) did a good job to advance to sectionals again."
Round Lake got second-place medals from Dan Arteaga at 126 and Joe Greenhill at 182.
"I think Danny (Arteaga) had a chance to win, but he got a little tired," said Round Lake coach Mike Hruska. "They both had good tournaments and hopefully they'll do well at the sectionals."
Other third-place finishers were Libertyville's Joey Locascio (106), Mundelein's Alec Riportella (113), Libertyville's David Truskowski (132), Libertyville's Tyler Brooks (138), Libertyville's Nick Andrews (145), Grant's Brian Treacy (160), Warren's Rahkeem Chapman (182), and Grant's Jack Resnick (220).