A Stevenson tour de force in Lake County title effort
With a 26½-point lead entering the final round of competition, there was no stopping the Stevenson wrestling team from winning a second straight Lake County Invitational championship Saturday afternoon at Antioch.
The Patriots had an incredible performance over the two-day tournament as they placed six wrestlers in the first-place match while rolling to the title of the 17-team meet with 187 points.
With three individual champions, Libertyville easily locked up second place with 163.5 points followed by Warren (144.5 points) with a strong third-place showing.
Zion-Benton placed fourth with 136.5 points with Mundelein (116) in fifth, Grayslake North (104.5) in sixth, Grant (101) tied for seventh with Grayslake Central (101), the host Sequoits (75.5) in ninth, and Carmel Catholic (75) rounding out the top 10.
Stevenson's push for the crown was led by lone individual champ Max Gomez, who won the 195-pound championship with a pin over Mundelein's D.J. Preston.
The Patriots got second-place finishes from Tommy Frezza at 120, Muzi Sitshela at 152, Danny Ganzman at 182, Ean Norenberg at 220, and Anand Batbaatar at 285.
"All 14 of our guys scored points, we had six in the finals, and we were really pleased how the guys showed up for this weekend," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook. "It was an exciting win for him (Gomez) in the finals because the kid he beat from Mundelein ended his season last year at regionals."
Libertyville got individual titles from 126-pounder Matt Templeton (27-7), 132-pounder Danny Pucino (32-2), and 285-pounder Charlie Schmidt (28-4). The Wildcats also got a second from 138-pounder Michael Gunther, who suffered a heartbreaking 7-6 loss in the finals seconds to undefeated 138-pound Carmel junior Riley Palm (31-0).
"They all lived up to their seeds, and today they responded very well and won a lot of close ones," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "Stevenson is a really good team -- we are not in their league, and they had a huge lead."
Warren's troops had two individual champs, including impressive 120-pound freshman Joel VanderVere (33-2), who rolled to a 13-2 major decision over Frezza in the finals.
The Blue Devils also got an exciting 5-4 victory from senior Kelvin Kupay (31-9) in his 145-pound finals match against Grant's Spencer Welter.
"Joel (VanderVere) looked great, for the state series he got down to 120, and the team looks good heading towards regionals in two weeks," said Warren coach Brad Janecek. "This is all practice for the postseason, and like every other team we still have some work to do. But I'm proud of how we wrestled."
Undefeated Mundelein senior Dane Durlacher (36-0) continued to shine with a 5-1 decision over Warren's Sawyer Nash for first place at 106 while the Mustangs also got a first-place medal from 182-pounder Logan Kvien (30-4).
"I'm definitely happy because we only brought 10 guys so to finish fifth is really good," said Mundelein coach Craig Stocker. "Dane is a tough wrestler, he's put a lot of time in, and he's going to put himself in a spot to do well in the state series."
Grayslake North got a third from Angel Flores with a pin at 195, and a third from Wake Caldero with a pin at 285. The Class 2A Antioch regional is shaping up to be a real dogfight in two weeks.
"I thought we wrestled great, we were the highest placing team in our conference (NLCC) here, and we got wins out of every kid on the team that we brought," said Grayslake North coach Collin McKillip. "We beat a bunch of kids that we lost to in dual meets, and most of the teams we will see in the regional are here."
Grayslake Central junior Alex Cramer (33-1) continued to impressive with a technical fall for the 160-pound crown while younger brother Adrien suffered a gut-wrenching 4-2 loss in triple overtime in his 170-pound finals bout.
"They wrestled really well, and we had our No. 3 seed Ethan Torres out with an injury," said Grayslake Central coach Matt Joseph. "We only brought nine guys, and Alex (Cramer) is focused, he's determined, and he's a different kid than he was last year."
Antioch's Alex Barbarise (26-6) won the 113-pound title over Warren's Austin Nash while Lakes' junior Jack Brunati (27-7) won the 220-pound title over Norenberg.