Stevenson savors long-awaited win over Warren
The long-awaited showdown between host Stevenson and Warren lived up to its billing in the early stages of their North Suburban Conference Lake Division dual meet Thursday night.
Starting at 170 pounds, the Patriots held a 15-12 lead over the Blue Devils after eight matches. But an 11-2 major decision by Stevenson 126-pounder Brandon Zisman turned the momentum in the Patriots' favor, as they wound up rolling to a 37-15 victory.
Stevenson, ranked seventh in the state, improved to 17-2 and 5-0 in the NSC Lake, while Warren fell to 14-2 and 4-1.
Stevenson was coming off a huge victory over state-ranked Deerfield last weekend. The Patriots can capture back-to-back Lake Division championships with a victory over Mundelein on Friday night.
Stevenson got started off on the right foot Thursday when 170-pounder Nikita Nepomnyashchiy (24-4) pulled out a 9-7 decision over Andrew Demos on a takedown with 19 seconds left in overtime.
Then, Stevenson 182-pounder Michael Kordek (25-4) captured a 5-4 decision over Brandon Escamilla on an escape late in the third period.
Warren tied the score at 6-6 when 195-pounder Zach Khoury pinned his opponent in 1:31. The Blue Devils took a brief 9-6 lead when 220-pounder Jared Pompilus posted a 3-0 shutout over Mac Champrung.
Then came another wild early match, as Stevenson 285-pounder Nick Grujanac (24-8) salvaged a 3-2 decision in double overtime over Sergio Sosa in a match that was decided by an "ultimate tiebreaker."
"We were pretty evenly matched from 170 to heavyweight. A couple of those matches could have gone either way, but we ended up short," Warren coach Jake Jobst said. "They're the No. 7 ranked team for a reason, and their guys wrestled tough so I give them credit."
Stevenson's Tommy Frezza earned an 8-2 decision over Keyante Howard at 106. But Warren 113-pounder Richard Howard posted a 4-2 decision over Matt Zimring to deadlock the score at 12-12.
Stevenson took the lead for keeps when 120-pounder Alec Nolan posted an 8-3 decision over J.T. VanderVere for a 15-12 edge.
Zisman's 11-2 major decision boosted the lead to 19-12, as Warren's Jack Nudelman was able to avoid a pin late in the second period.
But the momentum was headed in the Patriots' direction at that point, as 132-pounder Eric Carter (18-8) recorded a pin in 3:35 to boost the lead to 25-12 with four bouts left.
Grant Zamin kept the Blue Devils' hopes alive, as his 3-2 decision over Ben Ponto at 138 pounds cut the gap to 25-15. But Stevenson's Jake Simon captured a 6-3 decision over Jariston Clarke at 145, and the Pats led 28-15.
No. 2-ranked 152-pounder Dylan Geick (28-2) followed with a pin in 2:38, before Stevenson teammate Robert Pavlovics (22-9) added a 6-3 decision over Chris Love to close out the meet.
"Some of our tough guys matched up with their tough guys, and I think we were in better shape in the third period," Geick said. "Deerfield was a big win, this was a big win, and next week I feel confident we can win the conference championship."
Geick and Stevenson coach Shane Cook are not looking past the business at hand as they must beat Mundelein to win the Lake crown outright. The Pats will also be going for their second NSC crown in school history next weekend at Wauconda.
"Warren had a lot of energy and momentum coming in here, but our guys really rose to the challenge and we were able to come through with a big conference win," Cook said. "We're focused right now on Mundelein Friday night. We understand this is all preparation for the conference tournament and the state tournament."