Lake Zurich bounces back at Carmel mega-duals
After falling at home to a powerful Libertyville squad Friday night, the Lake Zurich wrestling team wanted to get back on the winning track Saturday when the Bears headed out for the Carmel Catholic mega-duals meet in Mundelein.
And behind two more wins from elite senior Joey Mrazek, the Bears did just that as they started off the three-round competition with an impressive 49-15 victory over Highland Park.
Lake Zurich (9-11) followed up that win with a strong 55-18 triumph over Prairie Ridge. But the Bears were unable to get their record to .500 on the 2019-20 season as they dropped a 48-28 decision to Glenbrook South to close out the afternoon session and go 2-1 on the day.
The Titans were the class of the six-team field as they posted a lopsided 68-6 victory over the host Corsairs (2-16) to open the day before beating Palatine (6-8) by a final score of 48-18 in the second round.
Carmel toppled Highland Park 33-27 in a wild round two battle while a pin by Palatine's Brian Fernandez at 285 pounds finished off the Pirates' 60-18 victory over the Giants in the third round. Palatine dropped a heartbreaking 34-33 decision to Prairie Ridge in the second round.
After a big pin against Libertyville Friday night, No. 3-ranked Mrazek (27-2 at 182) went 2-0 Saturday, including a comeback 7-5 decision over two-time state qualifier Tommy Evans (27-2) of Prairie Ridge.
Lake Zurich 285-pounder Alan Pontoja (14-2) and freshman teammate Scott Busse (126) both went 3-0 on the day while senior teammate Logan Neurauter (24-5 at 120) went 3-0 on the weekend.
"We moved up a lot of the JV-freshmen to fill out the lineup, and they wrestled awesome today," said Lake Zurich coach Jake Jobst. "That's the matchup (against Evans) that we wanted here to get Joey the toughest competition he can get going into the county, and the state series, and I think he just broke that kid in the third period."
Short-handed Carmel continues to be without the services of key injured senior Christian Valadez since the early stages of the season as Valadez (3-1 at 132) is trying to return to the state meet for the fourth straight year this winter.
Isaiah Lopez went 3-0 at 126 for the Corsairs, who have still been able to turn to 2019 state qualifiers Vince Swindell (145) and Yovaniel Garcia (170). But Garcia only wrestled one match Saturday after having to injury default against Glenbrook South to start the triple-dual meet.
"It's hard to replace a three-time state qualifier (Valadez). You can't do it," said Carmel coach Bob Kuykendall, whose team was tied 30-30 with Prairie Ridge late in that dual. "They (Swindell and Garcia) are both seniors, but even though they've been downstate every year is different and someone is always gunning for you."
Besides Fernandez, 126-pound junior Kris Berrios (16-6), and 138-pound senior Miguel Garcia-Cordero also went 3-0 for the Pirates overall. Palatine was leading Prairie Ridge 33-22 after an 11-5 decision by Miguel Garcia at 170, but the Wolves got forfeit wins in the final two bouts to earn the narrow 34-33 win.
"We kind of emphasized all year our guys having to hold on for wins, and it's a learning experience learning how to win," said Palatine coach Chris Winters, whose team built a commanding 42-6 lead over short-handed Highland Park. "You know you can't give up bonus points (against Prairie Ridge), and bonus points is what that meet came down to."
Class 2A Prairie Ridge had three sets of brothers competing with Tommy and Tyler (106) Evans, Ryan (113) and Kyle Koelblinger (22-2 at 195), and Charlie (132) and Eddie Ferree (145) taking to the mats.