Antioch wins its first Lake County Invitational championship
The Antioch wrestling team has had a good 2019-20 season up to this point, but not too many observers could have seen what the host Sequoits had coming for the final day of the Lake County Invitational Saturday.
The powerful 17 teams were assembled for a big showdown on Day 2. But Antioch would have no part of a dramatic finish to this tournament as the Sequoits built an insurmountable 199 to 154.5 lead over Libertyville heading into the final round before they rolled to the first Lake County championship in school history with 211 points.
Stevenson caught Libertyville to wind up in a second-place tie (168.5 points each) followed by Warren (141.5 points) in fourth, Lake Zurich (118.5) in sixth, Grant (109) in seventh, Grayslake Central (107) in eighth, Grayslake North (98) in ninth, and Carmel Catholic (85) in 10th.
Antioch's push to the team title was led by its outstanding wrestlers at the lower weights as the Sequoits had individuals reach the championship match at all five of the lower weight classes.
Antioch senior Niall Schoenfelder (31-1) was a champion at 195 pounds along with teammate Alex Barbarise (31-1 at 120). The Sequoits got second-place finishes from Caleb Nobiling (106), Anthony Streib (113), Luke Menzies (126), and Danny McPherson (132).
"Having six guys in the finals was outstanding, and everybody on our team scored except for one weight class so it was a team win," said Antioch coach Wilbur Borrero. "It's a steppingstone as I look at this, but our big goals are the regional, getting downstate, and seeing how many kids we get to medal at state."
Like Antioch, Libertyville had six individuals in the finals as No. 1-ranked Danny Pucino (29-2 at 138) faced Warren's No. 2-ranked Joel Vandervere (22-1) for the second time in the past 17 days. Pucino had won the first meeting 12-9 at home.
This time, Vandervere was able to overcome a 6-3 deficit in the second period to bounce back with an 8-7 decision by holding Pucino at bay in the pivotal third period.
"I'm happy to get the win. I've got some things to work on, and I'll probably face him (Pucino) three more times," said Vandervere, who placed second at 126 last year. "I'm confident I can do well, my goal has always been to be No. 1 in the country so I just have to keep working hard."
Libertyville got first-place medals from Caelan Riley (31-4 at 106), E'lan Heard (19-1 at 152), and Josh Knudten (160). The Wildcats got seconds from Pucino, Chase Baczek (170), and Jordan Smith (220).
"Vandervere had that really good counter-attack in the third period (against Pucino), and those are two really good guys," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "Antioch is a really good team, they have their fair share of stars, but they have a good guy at every weight."
Stevenson's troops were led by freshman Lorenzo Frezza (29-4) with the 113-pound title, and teammate Cole Rhemrev's second at 120.
"It's another step forward working towards the state series, and we're really happy with how much he (Frezza) has improved since the beginning of the year," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook. "But we're going to take one step at a time, and now we'll start to get ready for the regionals."
No. 1-ranked Grayslake Central junior Adrien Cramer (28-1) posted a 12-2 major decision over Grant's Ryan Geist for the 182-pound crown while Warren standout Cam Domke (29-3) was the 132-pound champ. The Blue Devils also got a second from Isaiah Parker at 152.
"He (Cramer) is having a great year. He's locked in and focused, and he's been picking up the tempo lately," said Grayslake Central coach Matt Joseph. "He just has to take it one match at a time, and rely on his training and staying focused now."
Lakes senior Kurtis Smith was a surprise winner of the 170-pound title while top-seeded Mundelein senior Jason Guadarrama (32-2) pinned his opponent for first place at 220. Lake Zurich junior Alan Pantoja (17-2) also got a pin to win the 285-pound finals.
Other second-place finishers were Carmel's Vince Swindell at 145, and Grant's Eddie Tregenza at 160.
"This is a great tournament to start preparing for the postseason," said Warren coach Brad Janecek. "Those three guys (Vanderver, Domke, and Parker) all look to do something at Champaign this year, and they all have aspirations to get on the podium."
Wauconda got thirds from Jack Sullivan (113) and Colin Husko (132) while Grayslake North got thirds from Armen Jerikian (120) and Nick Kozanecki (138).
Other third-place finishers were Stevenson's Alex Swidler (106), Carmel's Isaiah Lopez (126), Antioch's Elijah Reyes (145), Stevenson's Arie Guzman (160), Lake Zurich's Joey Mrazek (182), Grayslake Central's Jake Lester (195), Carmel's Jonathan Lopez (220), and Stevenson's Keegan Houlihan (285).
"He (Mrazek) really didn't wrestle his style in the semifinals, but that kid (Geist) is a really tough wrestler and he got the job done," said Lake Zurich coach Jake Jobst. "We had a rough round before the consolation semifinals, but we had a great showing by (freshman) Scott Busse at 126."