Unbeaten Lake finish feels great for Stevenson
It was definitely a feel-good moment for Stevenson, and one that was certainly a long time coming for the Patriots' wrestling program Thursday night at Warren.
After falling behind the host Blue Devils 8-0 early in this North Suburban Conference dual meet, Stevenson put the finishing touches on their first Lake Division championship in school history with a convincing 37-21 victory over Warren.
Stevenson (18-3, 6-0) still has a lot of goals and obstacles ahead of it, starting with the North Suburban Conference meet back at Warren next weekend.
The Patriots are expected to collide with perennial power and NSC Prairie Division champion Grant in pursuit of the overall NSC title with long-time rival Libertyville hoping to make some noise in the powerful two-day meet.
Starting the dual meet at 113 pounds, the Blue Devils took an early 3-0 lead as junior Chris Presberg posted a 7-5 decision over sophomore Brandon Zisman.
Then at 120, Warren senior Charlie Nudelman posted a 16-0 technical fall and the Blue Devils had a quick 8-0 advantage.
But even without seniors Zach Horwitz (195) and Nathan Reinsdorf (132) in the lineup, the Patriots got rolling at the lower weights again with a pin by sophomore Eric Carter (21-9) at 126 cutting the lead to 8-6.
Then sophomore Ben Ponto moved up to 132 and he captured an exciting 5-3 decision over Jakob Martinez to give the Pats the lead for keeps at 9-8.
At 138, junior Evan Rodriguez (20-10) showed he is a force to be reckoned with as he posted a 14-4 major decision before senior teammate Corey Weil's pin in 1:50 boosted the lead to 19-8.
Sophomore Robert Pavlovics kept the momentum going as his 5-1 decision over senior Brandon Murphy at 152 made the score 22-8.
"Stevenson is rolling this year, they're a really good team, and (coach) Shane (Cook) is doing a great job," said Warren coach Jim Ouimette, whose team went 3-3 in the Lake Division. "I thought our kids wrestled well tonight, we're coming along, but we're so young and inexperienced against a team like Stevenson you're going to take some lumps."
Warren senior Quinn Nonnemacher stopped the surge briefly with an 11-1 major decision at 160. But Stevenson senior Juwon Anderson (23-7) got the Patriots headed back in the right direction with a 10-5 decision over sophomore Andrew Demos at 170.
Then Stevenson 182-pound senior Tyler Harrington (26-2) recorded a pin in 2:08 before junior teammate Michael Kordek (22-3) won a 10-5 decision over Warren 195-pounder Zach Khoury for a commanding 34-12 lead with three matches left.
"It was just a team effort, we pushed each other in practice, and we wrestle as hard as we can all six minutes," said Kordek, who has 18 straight dual-meet wins. "It was really tight when we wrestled Grant in the dual meet and since then everyone has improved a lot. We need to have confidence (at conference meet), we know we have skill, and we've got to dominate the positions."
The Blue Devils got back on the scoreboard when 220-pounder Bryan Nolan pinned his opponent in 2:49. Then Stevenson 285-pounder Nick Grujanac (20-5) posted a hard-fought 2-1 decision over Sergio Sosa.
The final bout of the meet was a wild one with Warren freshman J.T. Vandevere capturing an exciting 13-11 decision over junior Alec Nolan to account for the final score.
13 of Stevenson's 14 starters have winning records heading into the Patriots' final weekend of competition before the NSC meet.
"We had some kids that really stepped up big tonight and scored us some bonus points when we needed them the most," said Cook, whose team placed third in the NSC last year. "Weil had a big pin and this is a huge step for our program. But we understand this is all preparation for the conference tournament and the state tournament."
Cook is hopeful his team comes through next weekend and beyond as the remainder of the 2014-15 season unfolds.
"We've just got to continue to improve every day and keep our focus," added Cook, who is in his ninth season. "There are a lot of quality teams in the NSC and we want to compete in every weight class."