Too steep a slope for Mundelein against Stevenson
Host Mundelein knew it was going to be facing an uphill struggle when it faced two-time defending North Suburban Conference champion Stevenson on the wrestling mat.
And while the Mustangs stayed within striking distance for the first eight matches, the Patriots wound up scoring 33 unanswered points to end this dual meet with an impressive 56-15 victory.
Starting at 160 pounds, Stevenson (3-0, 1-0) got on the scoreboard first when Jake Simon won by forfeit.
Due to a minor shoulder injury to 2016 state qualifier Nikita Nepomnyashchiy, Stevenson senior Dylan Geick (6-1, fourth in Class 3A in 2016) moved up a weight class to fill in for his ailing teammate Thursday night. And Geick got the job done with an 18-7 major decision over Logan Kvien to stake the Pats to an early 10-0 advantage.
Stevenson 2016 state qualifier Robert Pavlovics took an early 2-0 lead in his 182-pound bout against Mundelein sophomore Shamier Austin. But Austin turned the tables on Pavlovics with a stunning pin in 1:23 to cut Stevenson's early lead to 10-6.
The Patriots got back on the winning track when 195-pounder Jon Ramirez recorded a 10-3 decision over Geovany Albavera for a 13-6 edge.
Then Stevenson 220-pounder Charles Longwood posted a 20-11 major decision over Jason Guadarrama before the Pats got a pin by 285-pound sophomore Anand Baatbatar in 1:05 to extend their lead to 23-6.
Mundelein (3-2, 1-1) would turn to the strength in its lineup at that point as junior Dane Durlacher recorded a technical fall in 2:58 over Stevenson freshman Andrew Chang.
Sophomore Reese Durlacher followed up that performance with a 10-0 major decision over freshman Alex Rutnarak, and the Mustangs only trailed 23-15 with six matches remaining.
"We're a really young program and we're really pumped up with our freshman team doing so well," said Mundelein assistant coach Roy Seeger, who was filling in for head coach Mark Stewart. "We have some talent, (Dane) Durlacher came out firing on all cylinders. We did some positive things and it was nice to see Reese (Durlacher) do really well."
Stevenson sophomore Tommy Frezza only led his 113-pound match 4-1 before he pinned senior Marco Rosales in 4:45 to give the Patriots some breathing room with a 29-15 lead at that point.
Then Stevenson 126-pounder Matt Zimring added a hard-fought 9-5 decision over Augustin Cirilo to boost the lead to 32-15 with four bouts left.
"That match at 182 probably should not have gone that way, but we knew the Durlachers would be some tough matches," said Geick, who placed second at the Barrington tourney last weekend. "I'm pretty excited -- I think this will be our best year yet, we'll finally get the regional title and go downstate as a team."
The Pats really turned it on in the end with a pin by 132-pounder Michael Karp in 3:24, a pin by 138-pounder Brandon Zisman in 0:44, a forfeit win by Muzi Sitshela at 145, and a pin by 152-pounder Eric Carter (who moved up a weight class) in 3:17 accounting for the final score.
"We knew that they were going to be very competitive at 106 and 113 and we had two freshmen in our lineup," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook. "Robert (Pavlovics) was winning his match and he got caught to his back. But for us to come here for our first conference meet and win 11 of 14 matches, we're heading in the right direction."