Big finish lifts Libertyville to regional title
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Host Warren held an 11-point lead over Libertyville heading into the semifinal wrestleback round of its own Class 3A regional Saturday afternoon.
But that would be the end of the road for the Blue Devils, as the Wildcats pulled away to the championship of this nine-team regional by a comfortable 190-147 score over Warren for the title.
Libertyville advances to the Huntley dual-team sectional on Feb. 20. Saturday marked the Wildcats' 27th regional crown in school history, with their most recent win in 2014.
The road to the team triumph was paved by four individual champions, who will all be advancing to the Barrington individual sectional next weekend.
At 126 pounds, Matt Templeton (30-7) was the first Libertyville wrestler to take first place followed by 132-pound teammate Danny Pucino (37-2), 138-pounder Michael Gunther (21-3), and 285-pounder Charlie Schmidt (32-4), who pinned his opponent in just 39 seconds.
"Warren had a great semifinal round, but we had a really good consolation semis, and that gave us pretty much of an insurmountable lead going into the finals," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "Schmidt is having a great year -- he has a really tough sectional, and he's ready to battle those guys."
The Blue Devils had four of their seven wrestlers going for championships win first-place medals, but they did not have anyone battling for third place. All of the top three wrestlers earned berths into the Barrington individual sectional.
Warren was led by No. 6-ranked freshman standout Joel Vandervere (36-2) with a pin in 1:51 for the 120-pound crown. The Blue Devils also got crowns from 106-pounder Sawyer Nash (32-5), 113-pounder Austin Nash (15-5), and 220-pounder Christian Goeden (25-17).
Vandervere's only two losses this season came against Stagg junior Dom Zaccone, who placed second in the state as a sophomore.
"My plans are to win in all, and that is what I want to do," said Vandervere. "I just have to stay on my offense, keep going on my gas, and push the pace."
Besides its champs, Libertyville got a second from 195-pounder Will DeBruler, and thirds from 113-pounder Ian Riley, 120-pounder Brandon Murphy, 170-pounder Ryan Damenti, and 182-pounder Josh Groskopf.
Warren got seconds from senior Kelvin Cupay at 145, freshman Isaiah Parker at 152, and junior Marcus Thompson at 285.
"We've got seven guys going on to next week so that is the good news," said Warren coach Brad Janecek. "Coming into this year we lost our top five wrestlers to graduation, so we have six of our seven guys in the finals today coming back next year."
The battle for third place was a close one, and it was Grant that pulled away from Deerfield 140-134.5 to take home third place. Round Lake (87.5) placed sixth.
Grant was led by 182-pound sophomore Justin Brown (31-7), who was the Bulldogs' lone champion. Brown did not wrestle in the Lake Co. meet two weeks ago.
Grant also got seconds from 113-pounder Zach Hitzler, and 138-pounder Sam Maldonado. Parker upset top-seeded and No. 7-ranked Jordan Chisum of Zion-Benton in the semifinals before Grant sophomore Ethan Geist eliminated Chisum 3-2 in the wrestlebacks. Then Geist went on to take third place.
The Bulldogs also got thirds from Chris Lozos at 106, and Tucker Rogan at 126.
"I think we wrestled well today as a whole team, we've been impressed with our guys and it's a tough regional," said Grant coach Lenny Grodoski. "Ethan (Geist) beat the No. 7-ranked guy in the wrestlebacks so to come out of here with a third is a big step for him."
Round Lake got seconds from Shamier Austin at 170 and Javier Ambriz at 220. The Panthers' Zach McCain trailed 8-2 in his third-place match at 132, but he stormed back for an unlikely 12-8 decision.
"He (McCain) always has great conditioning so he is always going to wrestle the whole match," said Round Lake coach Mike Hruska. "Shamier (Austin) beat a kid from Libertyville (Damenti) that beat him two weeks ago at the Lake County meet so that was a huge win for him."
Host Antioch proved that you can never count out the Sequoits, who won their own Class 2A regional by a 189-170 final over Carmel Catholic on Saturday.
The Corsairs actually had four champions to just one champ for Antioch, but the Sequoits had enough depth to reach the mountaintop and advance to the Fenton dual-team sectional on Feb. 20.
The top three finishers in each weight class advanced to the Grayslake Central individual sectional next weekend.
Carmel's champions were Christian Valadez (120), Riley Palm (138), Tommy Hoy (152), and John Ivan (220).
Third-place Grayslake Central got firsts from Joey Jens (145), and Alex Cramer (160) while Grayslake North got crowns from Angel Flores (195), and Wake Caldero (285).
St. Viator teammates Elijah Black (170), and Jacob Wolf (182) placed first while Alex Barbarise (113) was a champ for Antioch.
Other champions were Lakes' David Becker (106), and Wauconda's Delon Kanari (132).