Experienced Stevenson wins a close one with Libertyville
Libertyville's 12th annual Alumni Night was a back-and-forth showdown between the Wildcats and Stevenson Thursday in North Suburban Conference wrestling action.
The visiting Patriots jumped out to an early 15-0 lead, only to see No. 13-ranked Libertyville force a 15-15 deadlock after six matches.
When all was said and done, three-time defending NSC champion Stevenson had just enough depth and fortitude to pull out a 33-25 victory. The Patriots (9-1, 3-0) won three of the final four bouts to hand the Wildcats (5-2, 2-1) their first conference loss.
Starting at 106 pounds, the Patriots got a pin from sophomore Randy Lu, an 8-2 decision from Yoni Leibovitz over Ian Riley at 113 and a pin by junior standout Tommy Frezza at 120 to take that quick 15-0 advantage.
The Wildcats responded with 126-pounder Matt Templeton's 4-1 decision over Matthew Zimring, before 132-pound Danny Pucino and undefeated 138-pounder Michael Gunther recorded pins to pull the hosts even at 15-15.
The teams then traded major decisions with Jake Simon's 11-1 victory at 145 for the Patriots and Tyler Padilla's 10-2 win for Libertyville tying the score once again at 19-19.
With only six matches remaining, Stevenson 160-pounder Muzi Sitshela earned a technical fall in 5:47 to give the Patriots the upper hand briefly at 24-19.
Libertyville 170-pounder Ryan Damenti came through with a huge 5-1 decision over Matt Millman at 170, trimming the Wildcats' deficit to 24-22. But Stevenson put the victory away in the next three bouts, starting with Dan Ganzman's 8-1 decision over Josh Groskopf at 182. Ganzman had a near pin late in the first period, but he had to settle for the minor decision.
A 9-4 decision by Stevenson junior Max Gomez over Will DeBruler at 195 put the Patriots on the brink of victory with a 30-22 cushion.
Ean Norenberg put the finishing touches on the win with a 7-2 decision over Jordan Smith at 220. Norenberg had a near pin late in the second period.
"We've got some great individuals that can win some big invites, but in dual meets we're still inexperienced," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert, who is closing in on 550 career wins. "(Stevenson) has a balanced lineup and they had eight wins to our six. We're inexperienced at a lot of weights, and we've got a lot of work to do."
Libertyville 285-pounder Charlie Schmidt posted a 4-0 shutout over Anand Batbaatar to account for the final outcome.
"That was a really special victory for our sophomore Ean Norenberg. He took the responsibility to clinch the team win and get the job done," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook, whose team is ranked No. 14 in Class 3A and is expected to move up. "To come in here and pull out a victory is something special. We knew Libertyville had some tough guys in the middle of the lineup who could score some points."
Among the prominent Libertyville alumni in attendance were Class of 1961 teammates John Snow, Ed Sublett and Tim Anderson. Class of 1974 team member Steve Montgomery was also a part of the festivities. Montgomery placed fourth in the state as a senior when teammate Eggert placed second.