It was only their first meet of the season, but Libertyville's junior-dominated wrestling team is already starting to live up to the hype that will probably be surrounding them for most of the upcoming campaign.
Beginning the North Suburban Conference crossover meet at 132 pounds, the visiting Wildcats actually fell behind Wauconda 4-0 early and they held a fairly slim 13-7 lead after five matches.
But that was as close as the Bulldogs got, as Libertyville rolled to an impressive 53-10 victory to get the season going in a very positive direction.
Wauconda (2-2) took its 4-0 lead when two-time Class 2A state qualifier Devin Tortorice posted a 14-5 major decision over Danny Trinkleback to open the dual meet.
Libertyville 138-pounder Nick Andrews answered that with a 10-1 major decision over Tyler Holt before a 17-2 technical fall by 145-pound teammate Joey Gunther gave the Wildcats the lead for keeps at 9-4.
Wauconda 152-pounder Bruce Pearl's 8-3 decision over Colton Bast cut the gap to 9-7. But once again Libertyville responded with Sal Ayala's 17-5 major decision at 160 boosting the lead to 13-7. Many of the Wildcats' wrestlers moved up a weight class in the meet.
Junior Class 3A state qualifier Kayne MacCallum's pin at 170 and junior Austin Koziol's 9-4 decision over Alex Schwickwrath at 182 extended the lead to 22-7 before senior teammate Joey Nield's pin at 195 made the score 28-7.
"They're a tough team, well coached, and they have good athletes," said Wauconda coach Tom Nance. "Hopefully we're going to be mentally tougher because in too many matches we stopped halfway through our moves. We've got some improving to do and we're going to work hard to make sure we get there."
Wauconda two-time state qualifier Nate Magiera stopped the Wildcats' momentum briefly with a 7-0 decision over Kevin Barbian at 220.
But Libertyville 285-pounder Chris McDermand got those 3 team points back by outlasting Wauconda's Will Danner 1-0 in a classic defensive struggle.
Then came the match of the night as Liberytville 106-pound freshman Joey Locascio appeared to be headed to a certain defeat, trailing Wauconda freshman Mikey Tortorice 12-2 late in the third period.
But a crucial mistake by Tortorice resulted in Locascio on top, and Locascio wound up getting a pin with 21 seconds left much to the chagrin of the devastated Tortorice, who thought there may have been a quick count by the referee.
A forfeit win by 113-pounder Jackson Chartier, a pin by junior state qualifier Steve Polakowski at 120, and a 9-1 major decision by junior Noah Strong at 126 put the finishing touches on Libertyville's performance.
"I think our team is actually pretty young, most of them are juniors, and they're probably one of the best classes that we've ever had," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "This current junior class coming in has lived up to their ability and their talent by just really hard work. They've put in a tremendous amount of effort in the off-season and it shows."