Libertyville takes care of Lake Zurich
After an impressive win over Warren last week at home, visiting Libertyville wanted to keep the positive momentum going Friday night in North Suburban Conference wrestling action at Lake Zurich.
And after building a commanding 27-0 lead right out of the gates with the help of some forfeits, the Wildcats did just that as they went on to capture a 54-24 NSC victory over the Bears to put themselves in a good position to win the conference championship in the next few weeks.
Lake Zurich (1-4 in the NSC) was hampered by losing six forfeits overall. But the Bears were still competitive against Libertyville (15-2, 5-0) thanks to four pins in the dual meet.
Starting at 138 pounds, elite senior Danny Pucino (25-1) gave the Wildcats a 6-0 lead with a forfeit win before 145-pound teammate Domenic Tarello's pin made the score 12-0.
Then came forfeits for transfer student E'lan Heard (15-1 at 152) and Josh Knudten at 160 before Dane Whitney's 8-2 decision over Matt Luby at 170 staked the Wildcats to the 27-point lead.
In a showdown at 182, Lake Zurich's No. 3-ranked Joey Mrazek (25-2) pinned Chase Baczek as Baczek moved up a weight class to get a really tough match.
Mrazek's only losses this season were to the No. 1-ranked wrestlers in the state in both Class 2A and Class 1A.
"I've been pretty happy with how the season has been going so far, and I have to take one match at a time," said Mrazek, who just missed state last year. "I obviously have some high aspirations for later this year, but I don't want to look too far ahead because I have to get through that (Barrington) sectional."
Libertyville 195-pounder Adam Pressley defeated Zach Gill 11-4 before a forfeit victory for Jordan Smith boosted the lead to 36-6 after eight matches.
Lake Zurich heavyweight Alan Pontoja (11-2) was impressive with a pin in 1:34. But two more forfeit wins for the Wildcats (Ryan Schlitt at 106 and Caelan Riley at 113) put the team outcome of the meet out of reach for the Bears.
Lake Zurich did finish strong as pins by Logan Neurauter (22-5 at 120), and Scott Busse at 126 showed the Bears' firepower at the lower weights.
"Obviously it's not ideal when we're forfeiting six weights, but I'm glad that the guys we had wrestle had some pretty good matches," said Lake Zurich coach Jake Jobst. "He (Mrazek) is having a really good year, and I think he's kind of motivated and driven from his loss last year at sectionals."
Trailing 6-1 and almost getting pinned, Libertyville's Michael Rocco turned the tables on Vinny Pasquesi with a pin in 3:31 to account for the final score.
"There were some great matches, we had some really good guys who got forfeits, but they had some tough guys," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "We got the win at 170, and he (Mrazek) got a really tough match. It was 1-0 when the guy (Mrazek) took him down to his back."
Weather permitting, Lake Zurich will compete in the Carmel Catholic mega-dual meets on Saturday with Palatine, Glenbrook South, Highland Park, and Prairie Ridge battling it out in three dual meets apiece.
"We've got three guys out that are sick right now, and three guys out with injuries so we don't have a lot of depth," added Jobst. "He (Mrazek) has really improved all around this season, and overall he's becoming a real package in every aspect."
Pucino's only loss this season came in November at the Barrington tourney, but he avenged that loss as well as beating No. 1-ranked Joel Vandervere of Warren 12-9 last week.