Big finish helps Stevenson edge out Lake Zurich

 
By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/6/2017 9:56 PM
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  • Stevenson' s Alex Rutnarak, top, wrestles Lake Zurich's Jason Wollard at 113 pounds Friday at Lake Zurich.

      Stevenson' s Alex Rutnarak, top, wrestles Lake Zurich's Jason Wollard at 113 pounds Friday at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson coach Shane Cook cheers on his wrestlers at Lake Zurich on Friday night.

      Stevenson coach Shane Cook cheers on his wrestlers at Lake Zurich on Friday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Tommy Freeza is congratulated by teammates after winning his match at 120 pounds against host Lake Zurich.

      Stevenson's Tommy Freeza is congratulated by teammates after winning his match at 120 pounds against host Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich's Justin Wollard, top, controls Stevenson's Andrew Chang at Lake Zurich on Friday night.

      Lake Zurich's Justin Wollard, top, controls Stevenson's Andrew Chang at Lake Zurich on Friday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Zurich wrestlers cheer for Justin Wollard as he wrestles Stevenson's Andrew Chang at 106 pounds at Lake Zurich on Friday.

      Lake Zurich wrestlers cheer for Justin Wollard as he wrestles Stevenson's Andrew Chang at 106 pounds at Lake Zurich on Friday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson' s Tommy Frezza, top, controls Lake Zurich's Ian McGee at 120 pounds Friday at Lake Zurich.

      Stevenson' s Tommy Frezza, top, controls Lake Zurich's Ian McGee at 120 pounds Friday at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

An old rivalry produced a compelling here-and-now dogfight as host Lake Zurich met Stevenson in North Suburban Conference wrestling action Friday night.

After the meet started at 126 pounds, the host Bears had built a 31-26 advantage over the Patriots with only two matches remaining.

But with the chips down, Stevenson (12-2, 4-0) came through big-time in those final two bouts to pull out an exciting 36-31 NSC victory over Lake Zurich (14-3, 3-2).

The Patriots tried to pull away midway through the meet when No. 2-ranked 160-pounder Dylan Geick (21-1) moved up a weight class and pinned his opponent in 2:45 before 182-pound senior teammate Robert Pavlovics (19-5) added a pin in 53 seconds to boost Stevenson's lead to 26-13.

But the Bears came alive at that point as senior Kyle Fleming posted a 5-1 decision over Max Gomez at 195 to get the momentum going in Lake Zurich's direction.

Stevenson's Charles Longsworth built a 6-0 lead over senior Josh Dyer at 220, but Dyer was able to turn the tables on Longsworth by recording a pin in 3:45 and cutting the Pats' lead to 26-22.

Then came a huge pin in just 56 seconds by Lake Zurich 285-pounder Mike Bertoia and the Bears had taken a 28-26 lead with three bouts remaining.

"It was a hard-fought battle between two North Suburan Conference teams -- give a lot of credit to Lake Zurich, they showed up well-prepared and wrestled us tough," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook, whose team is at the Leyden tourney on Saturday. "Going into the final two matches we were down 5 points and our freshman (Alex Rutnarak), knowing with the pressure on he had to wrestle a brilliant match, and he was able to help his team win."

At 106, Lake Zurich sophomore Justin Wollard posted a 9-6 decision over Andrew Chang to boost the Bears' lead to 31-26, setting the stage for a Hollywood ending by the Patriots.

Rutnarak built an 8-2 lead over Jason Wollard after two periods before capturing a 13-2 major decision to cut the gap to 31-30 with one match left.

And it was Stevenson sophomore Tommy Frezza (17-2) that put the finishing touches on the big comeback victory as his pin in 3:19 sealed the Pats' dramatic win.

Lake Zurich was without Billy Busse at 182 and Joey Stutzman at 145 due to injuries while Stevenson 2016 state qualifier Nikita Nepomnyashchiy is due back from his fairly long-term injury next week.

"I don't want to make excuses, I think our kids did a great job, and with our full lineup it may have been a different story," said Lake Zurich coach Dan Strickler, whose team split the 14 matches with Stevenson 7-7. "Our upper weights were pretty strong and the team is doing very well overall, and I feel they are wrestling well enough for me to get mad at them when they win."

Maxx Wayne got the Bears going with a major decision at 126 before 132-pound teammate Nick Swanson's pin gave Lake Zurich a quick 10-0 lead.

Stevenson 138-pounder Brandon Zisman got the Patriots going with a technical fall before 145-pound teammate Muzi Sitshela won a 9-5 decision over George Gritsonis.

Stevenson's Eric Carter (21-4) moved up to 152 and got a pin in 2:20 before Lake Zurich's Nick DiMaggio won a 5-0 shutout over Jake Simon at 160.

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