Stevenson edges Grant for first NSC title
A new rivalry was born Saturday in the 60th annual North Suburban Conference wrestling meet.
Upstart Stevenson and perennial power Grant went toe to toe the entire weekend at Warren, before the Patriots ultimately won their first NSC championship by the slimmest of margins, 225.5 to 225.0, over the Bulldogs.
"I don't think there has ever been a tournament that defines team effort more than this tournament did for us," Stevenson coach Shane Cook said. "It took all 14 guys working together. We knew how strong Grant's guys were at certain weights, and we knew every match mattered."
Warren's young Blue Devils showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the future, as they placed third (141 points) with two freshmen and six sophomores in their lineup.
Libertyville locked up fourth place with 129.5 points to outdistance Lake Zurich (105.5) in fifth.
Stevenson trailed Grant 219 to 211.5 at the halfway point of the final round. But the Patriots came through big-time at the upper weights, starting with senior Juwon Anderson (28-7) posting a 7-3 decision over Lakes' Jared Smith for the 170-pound title.
"For Juwon to win his first tournament in one of the last meets of his senior year is a huge accomplishment for him," Cook said.
Stevenson junior Michael Kordek avoided getting pinned late in the second period, before capturing a 12-6 decision over Lakes' Zach Fuller in their third-place bout at 182. Stevenson senior Tyler Harrington (30-2) then won the crown at 195 pounds, and the Patriots weren't done. Stevenson got an 8-5 decision from Zach Horwitz over Lake Zurich's Josh Dyer in the third-place bout at 220, before Nick Grujanac of the Patriots pulled out a 3-2 decision over Warren's Sergio Sosa in the third-place match at 285.
Grant senior Jack Resnick (31-7) made the final results too close to call when he pinned Vernon Hills' Joe Blitstein in 4:54 for first place at 285.
Stevenson also got second-place finishes from Brandon Zisman at 113 and Evan Rodriguez at 138.
Grant was on fire to start the final round, as it got first-place medals from Gage Datlovsky (36-5) at 120, defending champ Christian Kanzler (26-10) at 126, Noah Drabek (37-3) at 132 and defending champ Cristian Coronado (35-3) at 138.
Tied at 3-3, Datlovsky pulled out a 7-3 decision over top-seeded Alec Riportella of Mundelein with four points late in the third period.
Datlovsky was seeded third.
"I knew from the beginning of the match it was going to be a tough match, and regardless of the seeding I wanted to win it," Datlovsky said. "I'm definitely working hard for state, and I want to make state as an individual and a team."
Grant also got second-place finishes from Kobe Lear at 152 and Mike Kouvelis at 160. The Bulldogs were seeking their 10th NSC title.
"We won our first conference title in 2001 by a half a point (over Libertyville), so what comes around goes around I guess," Grant coach Ryan Geist said. "Coming up a half a point short is disappointing, but we had a chance, and it didn't work out in the end."
Stevenson was fantastic in third-place bouts with Alec Nolan (106), Nathan Reinsdorf (132), Nikita Nepomnyashchiy (160), Kordek, Horwitz and Grujanac all coming up with crucial team points.
Warren's road to third place was led by senior Rakheem Chapman (23-11), who overcame a deficit to capture a 5-4 decision over top-seeded Joe Greenhill of Round Lake at 182.
Warren also got third-place finishes from Zach Khoury at 195, Andrew Demos at 170 and Richard Howard at 113.
"I was hoping that our team, as young as they are, would peak at this time," Warren coach Jim Ouimette said. "So to take third in this conference is really impressive. Chapman needed that, and it's really good for him to get that win at this point of the year because it's a confidence-builder for the next two weeks."
Libertyville had three champions, including now two-time NSC champion Joey Gunther (27-1) at 160. Sophomore Alex Mitchell pinned Round Lake's Juan Arteaga for the crown at 106, while Mark Dunsing won the 220-pound title with a 3-0 decision over Mundelein's Cesar Obispo.
"We were thrilled with our three champions, and after a rough first day we won a lot of consolation matches," Libertyville coach Dale Eggert said. "(Stevenson, Grant and Warren) are all going to be good next year too. We're losing our big guns, but we'll just keep getting better."
Lake Zurich got a second from Josh Spiwak at 126 and third from Tommy Clancy at 152.
"I felt like it was a successful day because we had guys who placed better than they were seeded," Lake Zurich coach Dan Strickler said. "These guys have wrestled better than my expectations all year so I hope that trend continues the next few weeks."
Antioch junior Jake Gross (36-3) posted a technical fall over Zisman for first at 113, and sophomore Patrick Schoenfelder (38-2) pinned Vernon Hills' Dylan Geick for the title at 145. Junior Nathan Dlugopolski took third sat 120.
"It was nice to see the intensity level because that is so important in wrestling," said Antioch coach Wilbur Borrero, whose team wrestles in the Vernon Hills regional. "Gross was always behind Briley Schultz (three-time state qualifier) last year. I hope this will inspire the rest of the guys for next week."
Mundelein's Brae Cruz (29-4) continued to shine with an 8-3 decision over Lear for first at 152. Vernon Hills' Peter Vanderbloomer placed third at 138.
Nolan's third-place medal proved to be particularly key for the Patriots. He pulled out a 12-11 decision over Grant freshman Spencer Welter in a wild match to open the final round.