Perfect finish for Stevenson against Grant, Barrington
The Stevenson wrestling team was definitely pushed to the limit Saturday at the triple-dual meet hosted by Grant.
But when all was said and done, the Patriots were the last team standing as they went 3-0 on the day to remain undefeated in the early stages of the wrestling season with a 7-0 record.
The first round was the easy part, as Stevenson rolled to a 70-3 nonconference victory over Waukegan. Also winning comfortably were Barrington (5-2) by a score of 64-9 in the second round, and Grant (4-1) with a lopsided 70-3 win in the last round.
Starting at 106 pounds, the second round was a huge test for the Patriots as they fell behind the host Bulldogs 30-11 after eight matches.
But Stevenson responded in dramatic fashion after that point, winning five of the final six bouts to pull out an exciting 35-33 victory over North Suburban Conference rival Grant.
The Broncos and the Bulldogs also had a great back-and-forth battle in the opening round with Grant ultimately holding on for a 31-27 nonconference victory over Barrington.
To close out the day, Stevenson captured a 35-27 nonconference victory over the Broncos as Barrington went 1-2 against the tough competition.
"We knew it would be a challenge, and our guys responded well," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook. "We won five of the last six matches to win the dual (against Grant) -- they understood what they needed to do and that we needed bonus points."
Pins by Grant 132-pounder Christian Kanzler (8-2), 138-pounder Dylan Mannes, 145-pounder Cole Berg (7-2), and 152-pounder Kobe Lear put the Patriots in a 30-11 hole as the Bulldogs looked great in the middle weights.
Then Stevenson junior Dylan Geick (11-0) posted a 6-4 decision over Justin Gilich at 160 to begin the Pats' comeback.
A decision by Stevenson 170-pounder Robert Pavlovics was followed by pins by teammates Nikita Nepomnyashchiy at 182, and Michael Kordek (9-2) at 195 to cut Grant's lead to 30-29 with only two matches left.
Then Grant's Kris Krey captured a 3-1 decision over Charles Longsworth at 220 and the Bulldogs increased their lead to 33-29.
But with the chips down, Stevenson 285-pounder Nick Grujanac pinned his opponent in 3:27 and the Patriots escaped with the 35-33 win.
"It's always good to see competition of the caliber of Barrington and Stevenson, and we have a lot of positives to take away from it," said Grant coach Lenny Grodoski. "Those kids (in middle weights) are all very experienced and wrestling at a high level, and they push each other every day and make each other better."
After settling for fifth place at the powerful Barrington tourney last weekend, two-time state qualifier Kanzler is ready to really kick things into high gear now.
"I came out flat at Barrington, but I just have to stay consistent with my wrestling," Kanzler said. "I felt like we were underdogs going into the season, but even though we lost to Stevenson today I thought we made a statement and I think we'll get them at conference."
The Patriots built a 29-18 lead over Barrington with three bouts remaining and they held on for the win despite a pin by Barrington 220-pounder Alex Crook, and an 8-6 decision by 106-pounder Tucker Priola to close out the meet.
Against Grant, the Broncos led 24-22 with three matches left, but the Bulldogs got a pin from Ryan Alsip at 182, and a 1-0 decision by Anthony Plucinski at 195 to seal the team win.
"They were both hard-fought duals, and I thought we fought a lot harder in the Stevenson dual," said Barrington coach Dave Udchick. "Grant outhustled us and they were more physical than us. But we rebounded pretty well against Stevenson."
Stevenson got three wins apiece from Geick, Kordek, Grujanac, 132-pounder Brandon Zisman, and 120-pounder Alec Nolan while Grant got three wins each from Kanzler, and Lear.
Sophomore Markus Hartman (10-1) went 3-0 for the Broncos at 126 as did Priola and 160-pound teammate Max Guhde. Mannes, Berg, and Nepomnyashchiy all went 2-0 on the day.