Article Source Written By: Mike Garofola – Daily Herald Correspondent
State ranked wrestling teams Libertyville, Naperville Central and Bolingbrook did not disappoint a big crowd at host Schaumburg Saturday afternoon.
No. 13 Libertyville closed out No. 22 Bolingbrook (8-3) on the final bout of their contest, as did No. 14 Naperville Central against Schaumburg to signal the start of an entertaining day of wrestling.
After its 39-31 victory in its opener, Naperville Central (18-4-0) would stay perfect the rest of the way after sending off both Libertyville (36-29) and then Bolingbrook 42-18.
“It’s been a busy, but two pretty good days,” said Central head coach Noah Fitzenreider. “But we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The Redhawks, without their 106 and 285-pounders on Saturday, immediately began to chase 12 forfeit points against Schaumburg (8-8-0) but soon took over the proceedings by outscoring the Saxons 24-3.
Grant Hansen’s major decision at 145 and a pin from Tyler Bobnick at 170 would fuel a late comeback from the Saxons, who drew within five at 36-31, until Angelo Eklou’s thrilling 9-8 decision gave Central its first win of the day.
It was more of the same against Libertyville, which would erase consecutive pins from Tommy Porter (113) and Tyler Driessens (120) to make a game of the second contest.
Danny Pucino, No. 2 in the state at 138, inspired the Wildcats’ comeback with his 16-5 major decision triumph and with Josh Knudten (160) and Chase Baczek (170) lending a hand Libertyville closed the gap to 30-23 until an Eklou pin at 220 dashed the hopes of coach Dale Eggert’s club.
“This was an exciting day of wrestling. Naperville is a tough ride, Bolingbrook tore us apart with their lower weights and Schaumburg battled right until the end,” opined Eggert, whose team went 2-1 just before the new year against Barrington, Cary-Grove and Yorkville.
“You saw the value of earning bonus points, and not giving them away today, especially against Bolingbrook who went way up on us. Pucino, Knudten, Chase, and Adam Pressley, who bumped up to 95 got us 22 points, but it was Bronson Mitran staying away from getting pinned that was the difference.”
The Wildcats (10-2) would edge Bolingbrook 40-38, then defeat Schaumburg, 40-26.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries of late, but we’re getting closer to being 100% which should put us in real good shape for the last part of the season,” said Baczek (22-4), who recently was fourth at the prestigious Dvorak Invite, and has improved dramatically from a year ago when he was 29-13 overall.
“I’m attacking and riding so much better than last year,” added Baczek, 3-0 on the day.
Driessens, and Eklou were also 3-0, as was junior Shane Roth (18-5), who went 5-1 last weekend at DeKalb, and 3-0 when the Redhawks traveled to Grant on Friday for three matches.
“We had some great senior leaders in our room last year, but guys like Driessens, Ryan Silva, Sean King and Eklou have really stepped to be the new leaders, and with an influx of new guys to our lineup, who are hungry to win and be successful, we’re having a good year thus far,” said Roth, back from a broken nose suffered at the Marchese Invite last month.
“If we can get ourselves healthy, and turn up the work in the room from here on out, we could have a real solid run in us but we’ve got to do the little things so much better, and have to understand in order to be the best, we have to be at our best at all times,” said Fitzenreider.
Schaumburg coach Mike LeVanti was encouraged at some levels despite going winless on the day, but he was not happy with one area in which his club struggled.
“We gave up far too many bonus points and did not get enough of them for ourselves,” LeVanti said. “We competed well against quality opponents, but it wasn’t enough to just compete.
“Grant (Hansen) was very good against Pucino, who moved up to 145 to wrestle Grant, and we had a few other bright spots, but we’ll have to be ready against an improving team from Palatine next week Friday.”
Libertyville will host league rival Warren next week, while Naperville Central hosts Wheaton North on Thursday.