Comeback efforts helps Stevenson past Libertyville
The Stevenson wrestling team has gotten into the habit of falling behind early in some of its dual meets this season.
But the No. 10-ranked Patriots have also proven that they can bounce back with a vengeance against their opponents.
That was the case again Thursday night at Libertyville as Stevenson (8-0, 2-0) fell behind the Wildcats by a 15-6 score after six matches in this North Suburban Conference showdown.
Once again, the upper weights proved to be a huge difference-maker for the Patriots though as they rolled off 30 unanswered points en route to a 36-19 NSC Lake Division victory over Libertyville (2-4, 1-2).
Starting at 120 pounds, freshman Michael Gunther got the Wildcats going with a 4-0 decision over senior Alec Nolan.
Libertyville 126-pounder Drew Onufer followed up that win with an 11-5 decision over Michael Karp and the Wildcats had a quick 6-0 advantage.
Junior Brandon Zisman got the Patriots on the board with a 3-0 decision over Mike Hogan at 132 before teammate Eric Carter's 4-1 decision over Tyler Padilla at 138 deadlocked the score at 6-6.
Libertyville kept the pressure on Stevenson with senior Will Johnson posting a 2-0 decision over Ben Ponto in a real defensive struggle at 145.
Then a pin by Libertyville 152-pounder Jack Damenti put the Pats in a 15-6 hole.
But momentum was about to shift to the Patriots' side as No. 2-ranked 152-pounder Dylan Geick (12-0) moved up a weight class and recorded a technical fall at 160 to cut the lead to 15-11.
At 170, junior Robert Pavlovics followed Geick with a 16-2 major decision to knot the score at 15-15.
Bonus points were the order of the day in the next two bouts as 182-pounder Nikita Nepomnyashchiy pinned his opponent in 5:26 before 195-pound teammate Michael Kordek pinned his man in just 24 seconds to suddenly give Stevenson a 27-15 lead with four matches remaining.
The remainder of the meet was much more competitive, but the Patriots kept their winning ways going when 220-pounder Mac Chanprung posted a 9-5 decision over Konnor Lindsey in a wild back-and-forth battle.
At 285, Stevenson's Nick Grujanac pulled away from Charlie Schmidt with a 5-1 decision to clinch the team victory with a 33-15 lead at that point. At 103, teammate Tommy Frezza added a 6-3 decision over Libertyville's Brandon Murphy to cap the 30-point run and give the visitors a 36-15 lead.
"We've been in worse positions so we know what to do in those positions and we came back and fought hard," said Kordek. "I think it's a different team than last year, we're still working on our intensity, and we can be a lot better if we pick up some little pieces."
Ninth-ranked 103-pounder Alex Mitchell moved up a weight class and posted an 11-3 major decision over Stevenson's Matthew Zimring to account for the final score.
On Saturday, Stevenson fell behind Grant 30-11 after eight matches before bouncing back strong to pull out a narrow 35-33 victory over the Bulldogs with the upper weights once again really carrying the Patriots to the win.
"They're ranked No. 10 in the state right now and they certainly lived up to that tonight," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "Obviously Will Johnson beating Ponto, a very seasoned veteran, was a big win for us. And Gunther knocking off a returning starter was very noteworthy."
This marked the second straight season that Stevenson has defeated the Wildcats in a dual meet after never beating perennial power Libertyville before.
The Pats will really have their hands full Saturday when they face second-ranked Sandburg, No. 21 Wheeling, and Marian Catholic in a triple-dual meet where their perfect record could be very much in jeopardy.
"We knew tonight was going to be a competitive dual and coach Dale Eggert's teams will always be well prepared," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook. "But with some shifts in our lineup, we were able to get bonus points at four weights."