Stevenson gears up again, churns past Lake Zurich

By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/8/2016 9:45 PM

The Stevenson wrestling machine kept on rolling Friday night as the host Patriots met Lake Zurich in this North Suburban Conference dual meet.

Starting at 160 pounds, Stevenson (13-2, 3-0) built a commanding 22-0 lead right out of the gates and the Patriots never looked back in posting a 58-15 NSC Lake Division victory over the Bears.

Lake Zurich (11-6, 3-2) fell behind 6-0 when Stevenson 160-pound junior Robert Pavlovics recorded a pin in 3:30 to open the meet.

Junior teammate Nikita Nepomnyashchiy (17-4) followed that up with a 15-6 major decision over Pete Baldaccini at 170 before 182-pounder Josh Dahl's forfeit victory gave the Pats an early 16-0 advantage.

The Patriots kept the pressure on the Bears when 195-pounder Michael Kordek (19-4) pinned his opponent in 3:01 to boost the lead to 22 points.

Lake Zurich got on the board in style as 220-pound junior Josh Dyer (19-3) posted a pin in just 56 seconds to make the score 22-6 with nine matches still remaining.

But that win by Dyer proved to be pretty much the end of the road for the Bears as a pin by Stevenson 285-pounder Nick Grujanac (19-6) gave the Patriots a comfortable 28-6 lead.

Then matters turned even worse for the Bears as the Pats got forfeit wins from Tommy Frezza at 106, and Matt Zimring at 113 to put Lake Zurich in a nearly insurmountable 40-6 deficit at that point.

The Bears did try to hang tough at the lower weights as 120-pounder Maxx Wayne pinned his man in 2:24.

Then at 126, Lake Zurich's Ben Baca held on in the final seconds for a 4-3 decision over Brandon Zisman to pull to within 40-15 with four matches left which ultimately sealed the team win for Stevenson.

"I felt as though we had a great atmosphere in this gym and it was an evening when everybody felt the sense of team sitting on the bench," said Lake Zurich coach Dan Strickler, whose team had four forfeits in the meet. "Dyer is looking great, he's a 220-pounder who wrestles like he's 120, and he's actually got real moves for a big guy."

The Pats put the win completely away when 132-pounder Eric Carter (12-7) captured a 9-6 decision over Nick Swanson in a bout that was contested down to the final seconds.

Stevenson 138-pounder Ben Ponto followed Carter with a pin in 2:48 to boost the lead up to 49-15.

"We're all working hard in the room right now trying to get better," said Carter, who reached the state meet as a sophomore. "We're encouraged to be doing well as a team, and my goal is to be a placewinner downstate this year."

Stevenson sophomore Jake Simon was able to hold off 145-pounder Nick DiMaggio, 3-2 to give the home crowd even more to cheer about in the second to last match.

Then No. 2-ranked Stevenson 152-pound junior Dylan Geick (21-2) closed out the meet with a forfeit win to account for the final score.

"Eric Carter had a great battle against a tough opponent in Swanson, and he was able to grind out a tough win," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook, whose team nipped Grant for its first NSC crown in school history last winter. "Robert Pavlovics has really turned the corner and we've set some high expectations for him. Nikita Nepo is getting better with every match and he's hungry to improve."

The Pats will probably have their toughest remaining test to defend their Lake Division title when they host Warren on Jan. 21.

"Michael Kordek and Nick Grujanac are two of our senior captains," added Cook. "And they're very focused on leading the team into the conference meet and the state tournament."

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