Stevenson, Libertyville tops in Lake County tournament

 
By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent

With a meet-high five individual champions, Libertyville gave Stevenson a run for its money Saturday at the Lake County wrestling meet.

But when all was said and done, the Patriots held off the Wildcats by a 194 to 189.5 tally to capture the championship of the 14-team meet held at Zion-Benton.

Libertyville top-seeds Alex Mitchell (15-0 at 106 pounds), freshman Danny Pucino (32-4 at 126), sophomore Michael Gunther (25-7 at 132), senior Jack Damenti (33-3 at 152) and junior Charlie Schmidt (34-7 at 285) were all crowned champions.

And while Stevenson had only three first-place finishers in 113-pound sophomore Tommy Frezza (30-3), 160-pound senior Dylan Geick (34-1) and 182-pound senior Robert Pavlovics (29-7), the Patriots had just enough depth and balance, even without 2016 state qualifier Nikita Nepomnyashchiy (170) in their lineup.

"We knew coming here that this was going to be competitive, so for us to be able to pull it out we're thrilled as we prepare for the regional (at Libertyville) next week," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook. "(Having only three champs) just shows that it was definitely a team effort. All 14 guys we brought here won a match and scored points toward the team victory."

The host Zee-Bees took third place with 133.5 points followed closely by short-handed Warren (129.5 points) in fourth and Grant (128.5) in fifth. Short-handed Lake Zurich (115) placed sixth, followed by Wauconda (101) in seventh and Lakes (95) in eighth. Antioch, Vernon Hills, and Grayslake North did not compete in the meet due to prior commitments.

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No. 3-ranked Geick pinned his opponent in 2:23 to capture his crown.

"Obviously we didn't have Nikita for the tournament, and because he was out we had a lot of guys bumping up a weight," Geick said. "My No. 1 goal is to win the state title, and it's going to come down to who is mentally prepared and tough on that day."

Libertyville also got thirds from Drew Onufer at 120 and Tyler Padilla at 160, and a fourth from Ryan Cleary at 182.

"Team-wise, we had a great performance, and in a big tournament getting five champs really helps you," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "It's going to be an incredibly tough regional. Somebody said it was the third toughest regional in the state."

Warren senior Andrew Demos continued to shine for the Blue Devils, as he extended his perfect record to 35-0 with a pin in 1:36 in the 195-pound finals.

Warren also got a championship from 2016 state qualifier Grant Zamin (31-3), who posted a 10-5 decision over Stevenson's Eric Carter at 145.

Warren's J.T. VanderVere was a runner-up at 126, as was teammate Brandon Hergenreder, who dropped an 11-2 major decision to Mundelein's Logan Kvien (30-9) in the 170-pound final.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We have five starters out so I was actually surprised we placed as high as we did," said Warren coach Jake Jobst. "I thought Grant (Zamin) wrestled an awesome match against probably one of the better kids he'll see at regionals. And I think Demos will keep the ball rolling at regionals and sectionals. He's having a great season."

Grant did not have any champions, but the Bulldogs got thirds from Zach Hitzler (in a 2-1 ultimate tiebreaker over Warren's Austin Nash at 106), Dylan Rinkenberger (6-5 over Libertyville's Brandon Murphy at 113) and Sam Maldinado (3-2 over Stevenson's Michael Karp at 132).

"We're a young team and this has largely been a learning year for a lot of us," said Grant coach Lenny Grodoski. "We battled back to get into the 3-4 match, and to see that growth was important."

Lakes senior Dylan Terranova (20-8) won the 138-pound title with a 6-2 decision over Stevenson's Brandon Zisman. The Eagles also got a second from Ishmael Velasquez at 132 and a third from Xavian Girona at 152.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"(Terranova) is starting to peak at the right time," said Lakes coach Craig Stocker. "Ishmael (7-1) is finally back on the mat, and he's looking OK."

Lake Zurich's Josh Dyer (23-5) won the 220-pound crown. Mundelein teammates Dane Durlacher (106) and Reese Durlacher (113) each took second place, as did Wauconda teammates Justin Mitchell (120) and Frank Milella (220). Lake Zurich's Mike Bertoia placed second at 285.

Other third-place finishers were Lake Zurich's Maxx Wayne (126), Grayslake Central's Austin Connelly (145), Wauconda's Devin Parrish (170), Wauconda's Tyler Stankiewicz (195) and Stevenson's Anand Batbaatar (285).

The Rams are expected to have back 2016 state qualifier Alex Cramer (27-1 at 145) when they host a Class 2A regional next weekend.

"Alex just has to stay on offense because when he's on offense he's tough to beat," said Grayslake Central coach Matt Joseph. "Austin is tough, he stays after people, he doesn't quit, and he wrestles six minutes."

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