Barrington holds off Stevenson for regional title
The mathematics were so heavily in favor of Barrington when the noon hour rolled around Saturday in Lincolnshire at the Class 3A Stevenson wrestling regional.
But as the afternoon slowly unfolded, the host Patriots drew closer and closer to the Mid-Suburban League champions to give the home fans hope of a surprise ending.
Barrington would hold off its hard-charging opponents with four individual champions and another six second-place medal winners to finish with 208.5 points -- 7.5 points clear of Stevenson _ to claim its fourth straight regional title.
"We could have been better at some spots, but we came through when we needed to and that's what we needed to beat Stevenson to advance into dual-team sectionals," said the Broncos' top man Luke Rasmussen, who stayed perfect at 38-0 after a first class performance at 170 pounds to win his second regional crown of his career.
Kai Conway (160, 39-3) won his second straight regional title, as did Jack Hartman (34-5) at 182, while sophomore Charlie Jones (106, 26-11) claimed his first.
"We gave it a good effort, but we found ourselves chasing far too many points to overcome at the end," lamented Stevenson coach Shane Cook, who nonetheless celebrated a tourney-high five titles, while sending eight of his men into next weekend's sectional at Barrington.
The top three at each weight advance, with Barrington moving on to compete in the Glenbrook North dual-team sectional later this month.
At a regional venue such as Stevenson -- which featured so much quality in nearly every weight class -- upsets were bound to happen along the way.
Such was the case at 195 pounds where No. 4 seed Matt Millman (Stevenson, 10-3) stunned top seed Isiah Pettigrew (30-2, Fremd) in the semifinals while at the same time No. 3 seed Colin Lehmann (25-14) of Barrington upended No. 2 Michael Goubine (25-0) from Buffalo Grove.
Millman would go on to capture the title, with Pettigrew advancing to sectionals.
Millman's victory was one of perseverance, heart, and a work rate second to none according to Cook.
"I've had an injury-filled career, so it feels great right now to win a regional championship," said the Patriots' senior, whose injury woes center around surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, biceps and labrum during his sophomore season.
Stevenson's Lorenzo Frezza (33-4), Cole Rhemrev (120, 33-5), Kai Yamato (132, 30-11) and heavyweight, Keegan Houliham (28-7) all lifted championship trophies on Saturday.
Frezza, the sixth-rated 113-pounder in the state, would defeat 2019 state qualifier Brian Beers of Barrington (34-7) for the second time this season.
"When I got back even at (2-2) after he took the lead in the second period, I felt like that was the turning point in our match," said the freshman Frezza, who went on to claim a 6-4 decision.
No. 7 Jack Hartman, who Rasmussen felt was the key man in the Barrington lineup, used a strong second period against No. 3 Joey Mrazek (Lake Zurich, 35-4) to earn top honors at 182.
"We had film of Joey against Ethan Geist (Grant) from the Lake County tournament, so I felt confident in the game plan we put together," said Hartman.
Senior George Gonzalez, a teammate of Mrazek, claimed the lone title for Lake Zurich with his hard-fought 6-4 decision over Ethan Klondar (17-16) of Stevenson at 138.
"It's an amazing feeling right now to win a regional, and advance into sectionals," said Gonzalez.
Once again, all eyes were on the 220-pound final, where No. 2 Gio Jackson (Buffalo Grove, 34-1) met No. 3 Evan Roper (Barrington, 27-4) in a rematch of a thrilling MSL title bout in which Jackson won in the closing moments, 7-6.
Jackson won for the third time in as many matches Saturday, using a takedown near the edge with 20.7 seconds remaining to ensure an 8-6 decision over Roper.
"Evan is so good, and strong so unlike last time, I wanted to come out and take more shots and finish them" said Jackson.
His teammate Alejandro Mejia, who failed to get out of his regional a year ago, won easily at 152, ending his day with a pin at 1:20.
"It's nice to get 'that' memory of last year out of the way," said Mejia.
No. 1 seed Charlie Fifield dashed the comeback hopes of Amaire Jones (26-8) with his 16-8 major decision victory over the Dundee-Crown junior.
"He (Jones) was tough and I could have been better in that third period when I allowed him to get closer to me," said Fifield (36-2), a sophomore at Fremd.
D-C's Gabriel Scales (145) erased a 4-2 first period deficit against Trey Cysewski (27-12) to defeat the Barrington senior with a pin at 5:11.
"That's not the way I wanted to start my final, but I stayed composed, and slowly worked my way back into the match," said Scales, who broke his arm back on October 3 and appears to be in top form in advance of his second trip to sectionals.
The Dundee-Crown senior was 42-10 overall a year ago.