Stevenson meets the challenge at Grant
Saturday's triple dual at Grant could be a sign of good things to come for the Stevenson wrestling team.
The Patriots toppled state-ranked Barrington 34-24 in a great back-and-forth meet to open their day before scoring the final 32 points against the host Bulldogs for an impressive 44-15 victory.
Stevenson (5-0) did not meet Waukegan in the final round because the Patriots already have the Bulldogs on their North Suburban Conference schedule later this season.
Barrington (5-3) bounced back from its first-round loss by posting a 54-3 victory over Waukegan and a 43-15 triumph over Grant. The host Bulldogs (4-2) had a 69-3 win over Waukegan in the opening round.
Starting at 285 pounds, Stevenson took a 6-0 lead over Barrington on a pin by sophomore Anand Baatbatar.
Barrington freshman Kai Conway (13-1) gave the Broncos a 6-3 edge with a pin at 106, but that was matched by a pin by Stevenson's Tommy Frezza at 113.
Barrington 120-pounder Cael Dyer dropped a 2-1 decision to Matt Zimring in double overtime, before Stevenson 126-pounder Michael Karp captured a 6-5 decision over Connor Delahunt for an 18-6 advantage.
The Broncos turned up the heat at that point. They got a pin by 132-pounder Jaritt Shinhoster (12-1), 5-3 decision by Luke Rasmussen (over Brandon Zisman at 138) and technical fall by 145-pounder Markus Hartman (10-0), putting the pressure on the Patriots.
Then Barrington's Jake Cysewski added a 3-1 decision over Eric Carter at 152 to give the Broncos a 20-18 lead.
That was the end of the road for Barrington, though, as a major decision by Stevenson's Jake Simon at 160 gave the Pats the lead for keeps at 22-20.
Stevenson's Dylan Geick (8-1) picked up a 7-3 decision over Dan Rasmussen at 170, before teammate Robert Pavlovics added an 11-2 major decision at 182. Senior Nikita Nepomnyashchiy (5-0) came back from a shoulder injury to post a technical fall at 195 and seal the Patriots' win with a 34-20 lead and only one match left.
"We recognize Barrington is one of the top teams in the area, so for us to grind out a tough win against Barrington is a step in the right direction for us," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook, whose team finished 19.5 points behind the Broncos last weekend at the Moore-Prettyman tourney. "Robert Pavlovics had a major decision against a returning state qualifier (Jake Meyer) so that was a huge win for him, and it was a huge victory for Frezza to pin a kid who beat him here last year."
Stevenson got two victories apiece from Geick, Frezza, Karp, Simon and Pavlovics. Nepomnyashchiy and 195-pound teammate Jon Ramirez both went 1-0 on the day.
"We had to dig ourselves out of a hole, but we lost a couple of swing matches and (Stevenson) did a lot of scoring at the end of the period," said Barrington coach Dave Udchik. "The last two years Grant beat us in the regional so we owe them a little bit. But they're a little bit young this year."
Wrestling Grant on two mats to close out the meet, Barrington built a 22-15 lead with five bouts left before pulling away on pins by Hartman, Conway and Meyer at 182.
The Broncos were led by Hartman, Conway, 138-pounder Luke Rasmussen and 220-pounder Alex Crook with three wins each. Shinhoster and Cysewski both went 2-0.
"We had a couple of swing matches (against Stevenson), and hopefully we'll see them again and redeem ourselves," said Hartman, who placed fifth in Class 3A last season. "The main goal every year is to win state (individually), and hopefully our team can get downstate this year."
Grant had no undefeated wrestlers on the day, but the young Bulldogs showed that they can be competitive against tough teams.
"It's no secret Stevenson has a really talented group of kids, but we left some points on the board and we're still learning," said Grant coach Lenny Grodoski. "But it's good to see competition like that. Against Barrington, we need to find ways to win the close matches."