Huntley continues to roll
Huntley continued to pile on more victories to what it hopes will be a memorable wrestling season that will end with several on the state podium and later its first state dual-team appearance.
The No. 7 Red Raiders (19-3-0) went through a trio of state ranked teams Saturday afternoon in Lincolnshire at the Stevenson Quad and did so without two of their starters to validate their lofty status in the most recent IllinoisMatmen polls.
"I'm proud of the guys today because it came after a tough week one in which we did a lot of talking to work through a few things in advance of what will be the most important time of our season coming up," said Huntley head coach BJ Bertelsman, who without 2017 state medalist David Ferrante and his 195-pounder Justin Allen (16-4) swept Deerfield, Yorkville, and finally the host Patriots.
"I told you last week there was that chance that a very good state ranked team might go 0-3 here today. I was hoping it wasn't us, but I knew it was possible because of us having four outstanding teams fighting it out," said Stevenson head coach, Shane Cook.
The No. 9 Patriots (17-3-0) looked sharp during their 50-23 victory over Deerfield in their opener, using an emotional victory on Senior Night the night before over league rival Warren to fuel their impressive triumph.
However, Yorkville (12-8-0) showed it is likely better than its current spot at No. 22 with a well deserved 42-18 win against Stevenson, after it dropped its first round bout with Huntley, 37-28.
For the day, it was Deerfield (13-17) that was winless after the final whistle, with Yorkville 2-0, and Stevenson 1-2.
"Deerfield has been bitten by the injury bug, so they're a little short-handed right now, but still very good in some spots. Yorkville is so young and talented, and Shane's guys were really tough although we had a little hiccup against them," said Bertelsman. "All in all it was a very good day for us."
It was the big three of Sammy Spencer (31-3), his brother Zach (32-4) and Juan Quiroz (31-4) who led the way with a 9-0 record, with junior Gannon Kosowski (24-10) added to the Red Raiders' firepower with three wins of his own, as did freshman Andrew Lira, now 27-6
Zach Spencer, who has committed to attend and wrestle at the University of Chicago next fall, inched closer to the program record of 160 wins set last year by Josh Stenger, now at UW-LaCrosse.
Spencer is now at 152 career victories after his major and two pins, the major decision coming in between a 6-1 decision from Lira (126) and a Kosowski (138) pin to put the Red Raiders ahead against Stevenson (18-12) before the home side took the lead one more time.
That's when Jake Simon (23-11) and Misu Sitshela (25-8) put 9 points on the board with a decision and pin.
Rukkus Hunkins (160), Quiroz and Michael Jernigan (195) would end the hopes of an all-out comeback by the Patriots by scoring the next 17 points.
"This is a big season for all of us, including myself," began Zach Spencer, a three-time state qualifier. "I am lucky to have my brother in the room who wrestles the complete opposite of me, which helps both of us work on important parts of our game."
Quiroz, whose fair share of injuries and illness has stalled his progress with the big club, recently went through an ankle and Achilles injury that limited his time in the room, but it hasn't appeared to slow the No 4 rated senior.
"I've dealt with a lot of different things and in the past it was all about just winning and nothing else, but that's changed and now I feel I can get on the podium in Champaign next month," said Quiroz, who hopes to see Abe Assad (Glenbard North) downstate to avenge his two previous losses to the top rated 70-pounder
Stevenson, which can close out the rest of its league rivals with wins in its last two duals with Waukegan then Lake Forest, fell behind to Yorkville early on (11-6) and would pull back 12 points on pins from Tommy Frezza (120, 25-3) and Michael Karp (132) to take a short-lived 18-14 advantage.
But the Foxes' strength lies in their upper weights, and their one-two punch of Nick and Ben Stemmet and the sophomores were part of a 26-0 run to finish this dual.
Max Gomez (28-8) was at his best against Ben Stemmet, taking the state-ranked sophomore to the brink until falling 3-1 in his only loss on the day.
"I feel like I'm right there with the best in my weight class, and a lot of the credit for my improvement goes to my two former teammates, Michael Kordick and Nikita Nepomnyashchiy, who were great partners in the room and, of course, coach (Dave) Froehlich, who has helped me go from being just good on my feet to an all-around wrestler who can be strong on top as well," said Gomez.
"Max is like a lot of guys on the team this year -- they work hard, want to learn, and will do the little things to get better," added Froehlich, who came over four years ago after retiring as head coach at Rolling Meadows.
Despite its record on Saturday, Deerfield did enjoy a successful Friday evening by clinching its tenth consecutive CSL championship with a win over Vernon Hills.
With its lineup nearly free of injury and back together, the Warriors will likely be favored to capture their sixth straight conference tournament title next Saturday.
Huntley will continue its tuneup for the postseason with duals against Prairie Ridge and Crystal Lake Central, before making its annual trip to the Oak Park-River Forest Invite.