Schaumburg stuns Conant

 
By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/15/2018 12:41 AM

The 'Fight for the Fin' was fabulous fun!

A jammed packed house at William Perry Gymnasium was treated to a thrilling power-packed and emotional roller coaster ride between longtime rivals Schaumburg and Conant, who compete to see who takes home the crosstown trophy and bragging rights for another year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Host Conant entered this MSL West division match with seven consecutive victories with Schaumburg head coach Mike Levanti saying beforehand he was hoping for this night to be a Lucky 8 night for his club.

In dramatic fashion, Levanti's men would stun the Cougars (8-1-0, 2-1-0) when Grant Hanson recorded a pin at 138 pounds to give the Saxons (8-3-0, 2-1-0) a 37-36 decision.

"What an unbelievable night," said a relieved Levanti, who along with his brother-in-law, Chad Hay, Conant's head coach, brought to life a tarnished, rather ugly trophy of a hideous fish they found one night in the garbage to start a tradition which has seen the Cougars dominate from day one.

"This dual had everything," continued Levanti. "The lead going back and forth, pins, tough one-point wins, and a handful of visits by myself and Chad to the table to argue our side of what we thought were incorrect calls."

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Jack Lingle would begin the evening with a key victory over two-time state qualifier Nicky Amato (3-1) at 145 pounds, which began a series of victories from both sides to draw the fans in closer and closer with each result.

"Jack really got us going in the right direction, but Tyler (Bobnick, 152) Matt Hosp (160) Jaylan's (Claudio) at 126 were all big but I knew what I had to do when my turn came up," said Hansen.

The Hosp victory in particular would be an important point swing for the visitors with the senior not only winning by a disqualification for six points but watching the Cougars losing one point due to a unsportsmanlike conduct call from the DQ.

Conant would not fold despite the 15-6 deficit it would now face, getting the next 13 points to go in front (19-15) before Saxons big man, Hadi Mashhadiabolghasem lowered the boom to put the visitors back on top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The two clubs traded pins at 106 and 113, before Alex Giuliano registered a pin at 120 to make it 30-27 Conant.

It became 31-30 Schaumburg after a controversial win from Claudio (126) -- in which Dominick Laskero erased with a fall at 4:34 -- setting the stage for Hansen's heroics.

"It was an amazing atmosphere in this gym tonight, one that I've never been a part of, and it was great to have so many of our own fans here to cheer us on during this incredible night for Saxons wrestling," said Hanson.

"Schaumburg came to wrestle tonight, so hat's off to them for their win and to Mike, who did a great job of getting them ready for tonight," said a gracious Hay afterward.

At Glenbrook South: There are plenty of high profile wrestlers from the area a the 55th annual Rus Erb Invite and of that group it's Riley Palm who stands above the sparkling bunch at host Glenbrook South.

The 2018 Class 2A state champion from Carmel looked in peak form Friday inside the Titan Dome in Glenview to advance into Saturday's semifinals.

The University of Buffalo-bound Palm (15-0) will take on Mikey Caliendo (Batavia, 14-1) on the top half of perhaps the best weight class here.

Buffalo Grove junior Alejandro Mejia (15-1) meets No. 2 seed Will Collins (19-1) from the home side on the other half of the bracket.

"I'm feeling great, and really looking forward to going after a second straight state championship," said Palm, who gave the Corsairs their first state title in program history last February.

Palm's teammate, Tommy Hoy (15-0), is on course to meet Batavia senior Justin Major (14-2) in the 160-pound final.

"It took me awhile to get back to being 100 percent last year after I broke my foot early on so I spent a lot of time in the offseason lifting, and getting used to the 4-5 inches I grew to reach six-foot, and I know if I stay healthy I can get myself downstate and on the podium," said the affable Major, who will play baseball next season at Sauk Valley Community College.

The No. 4 rated 145-pounder in the state, John Smith of Wheeling, pinned his way into the semifinals, improving his record to 21-1 in doing so.

"It's really different in our room this year because we lost nearly all of our starting lineup from a year ago so it will be more about individual results than team results for me this year and there's no doubt in my mind that I have as good a chance as anyone at the state tournament," said Smith, who won 43 matches a year ago.

Lake Park senior DeMarco Lee (10-0) is No. 4 on the charts at 195, but this weekend the Lancers star bumped up to 220, with a chance to meet No. 1 Ramin Abraham (18-0) from Evanston in the finals.

"The difference between last year and this year is my technique, but I have not been satisfied with my wrestling this year as of yet, so I'll keep on working until I do," admitted Lee, who was fifth a year ago at the state tournament.

After the first day, Evanston is atop the leaderboard with 73.5 points, followed by Lincoln-Way East (65.5), Sycamore (60.5), Batavia with 59.5 and Glenbrook South at 58.

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