IMPORTANT LINKS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS!
Cats qualify 6 for State Meet!
Polakowski is Sectional Champ... Pettinato, MacCallum, Koziol, Barbian and McDermand qualify.
Grant tops Libertyville for Regional Crown
What a difference a week made for the Grant wrestling team. The host Bulldogs came through big-time Saturday in their own Class 3A regional, as they overcame a 23-point deficit against archrival Libertyville to take a 168-162 lead over the Wildcats heading into the final round of the nine-team meet. And while Grant had only six wrestlers battling for first-place medals to nine for Libertyville, the Bulldogs still managed to win the regional championship going away by a 197-176 margin. Fox Valley Conference champion McHenry made its impact felt with a third-place score of 167.5 points, while Warren put together a strong solid round to place fourth with 121.5 points.
Regional championship No. 21 is one that Grant coach Ryan Geist will remember, as his team turned the tables on the Wildcats with a balanced team effort featuring three firsts, three seconds, three thirds and two fourths. "We didn't score a lot of points at 132, 160, and 170 last week (at conference), and this week we scored points in every single weight class, so those guys stepped up huge and that was the difference," said Geist, whose team lost to Libertyville by 12 points at the NSC meet. "Our kids came back strong in the consolation semifinals. I think we picked up three pins, and those were all bonus points. "I definitely think hosting the regional helped. It's very familiar territory, and I think our kids definitely thrived on wrestling in their hometown too," added Geist.
Grant was led by No. 3-ranked undefeated senior Tony Cashmore (26-0), who returned to the team with a big pin in 3:25 to win the 182-pound crown over Libertyville's Joey Nield. Cashmore has 17 pins this season and no takedowns against him. "It was a lot of team effort, and a lot of guys stepping up in the practice room this week compared to the weeks before," said Cashmore, whose team will wrestle in the dual team sectional on Feb. 19. "I'm going to go out there and try as hard as I can because it's my senior year. I've always wanted it (a state title). I dream about it every day, and this is my last chance." The Bulldogs also got first-place medals from Nick Fanella, who won by default over Warren's T.J. Kuhn at 138, and Dan Haeffele, who won by default over Libertyville's Chris McDermand at 285. Gage Datlovsky (113), Troy Parent (120) and Jared Lalanda (195) placed second for Grant. Fellow Bulldogs Nick Koch (106), Mike Kouvelis (145) and Connor Haran (220) all advanced to the Barrington Individual Sectional Tournament next weekend with thirds.
After missing the NSC meet due to illness, elite Libertyville sophomore Joey Gunther was unable to make weight at 138 on short notice. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that meant he could not wrestle Saturday and cannot compete for the remainder of the individual state tourney.
The Wildcats did have many bright spots in their lineup, though, starting with 160-pound junior Kayne MacCallum (38-2), who posted an 8-0 major decision in his finals match. Junior Steve Polakowski (37-4) was also impressive with an 11-3 major decision over Parent for first place at 120. Libertyville's Kevin Barbian overcame a late 3-1 deficit to pull out a 5-3 overtime win over Lalanda for the 195-pound crown. Libertyville did come up short in its other finals bouts. But the Wildcats still had six other second-place finishers who advanced to sectionals, including Austin Pettinato (145), Sal Ayala (152), Austin Koziol (170), Nield (182), sophomore Mark Dunsing (220) and McDermand (285).
"I really tip my hat to Grant because they won so many close matches and a lot of matches they finished off with pins," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "We're better in bigger tournaments and they were the better team."
Cats win 19th NSC Title!
By John Bumbales | Daily Herald Correspondent
Once again it was a two-team race Saturday as defending champion Grant and archrival Libertyville battled it out for the 57th Annual North Suburban Conference Wrestling Championship. The Bulldogs held a slim 9-point advantage over Libertyville heading into the second day of the 57th annual league meet, held at Stevenson. But the Wildcats turned the tables in the semifinal round to win 223.5 to 211.5 over Grant. The victory marked the fourth NSC crown in five years for Libertyville, and its 19th overall. It looks like No. 20 is a strong possibility next year, with the abundance of young talent on the Wildcats roster.
"We had a great semifinal round with eight guys reaching the finals, and that won it for us," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert, whose team is at the Grant regional next weekend. "It was just a great battle today, and I'm glad we somehow came out on top."
Both the Wildcats and Grant had 11 wrestlers reach the final round, but the Bulldogs only had six individuals competing in first-place matches.
"Right now they're just more solid than we are, but we had a chance and that's all we can ask for," said Grant coach Ryan Geist. "They don't give championships away, we've got to take it and there are a lot of tough teams in our regional."
Warren was a distant third with 148.5 points followed by Lake Zurich (132 points) in fourth, and the host Patriots (99 points) in sixth. Libertyville was led by two-time NSC champ Steve Polakowski (34-4), who won the 120-pound title with an 8-2 decision over Grant's Troy Parent.
The Wildcats also got crowns from No. 4-ranked junior Kayne MacCallum (35-2) at 160 and junior teammate Chris McDermand with a 3-2 overtime decision over Grant's Dan Haeffele at 285.
Libertyille tops Stevenson, homes in on Lake title
Falling behind early at Stevenson was not much of an obstacle Friday night for state-ranked Libertyville in North Suburban Conference wrestling action.
Beginning the dual meet at 285 pounds, the Patriots actually built a slim 7-6 lead after three matches. But it was all Wildcats after that point as Libertyville rolled to an impressive 47-12 NSC Lake Division victory over Stevenson (7-8, 2-3).
The Wildcats (14-2, 5-0) are one step away from regaining the Lake Division crown outright from defending champion Warren if they can defeat Lake Zurich at home next Friday night. Heavyweight Chris McDermand gave Libertyville a quick 6-0 lead as he pinned his opponent in 1:11 to open the meet. Stevenson bounced right back as 106-pounder Evan Rodriguez posted an 8-3 decision over Joey Locascio to cut the gap to 6-3. Then at 113, Stevenson's Joel Feldstein captured a 9-1 major decision and the Pats led 7-6.
But the momentum turned squarely in Libertyville's direction after that point as pins by Noah Strong at 120 and 2012 state qualifier Steve Polakowski at 126 gave the Wildcats the lead for keeps at 18-7. Libertyville's Danny Trinkleback added a 7-2 decision over Ben Korol at 132 before teammate Tyler Brooks won a 10-7 decision over Quentin Coppess at 138 to extend the lead to 24-7 midway through the contest.
"We understand who Libertyville is historically, especially who they are this season and why they are ranked in the top 10 of the state," said Stevenson coach Shane Cook. "But our kids didn't back down and we obviously have some things to work on to get ready for the state series."
Third-ranked Justin Weber (25-1) got the Patriots back in the win column with a technical fall in 5:12 to cut the Wildcats' lead to 24-12. Weber has won 21 matches in a row since losing his only bout of the season way back at the Barrington Thanksgiving tournament.
Libertyville proceeded to win the final six bouts of the meet starting with Joey Gunther's 12-3 major decision at 152. Sal Ayala led 10-1 early in his fairly wild 160-pound match against Stevenson's Ryan Mass before Ayala's 16-8 major decision boosted the Cats' lead to 32-12.
Then junior Kayne MacCallum (26-2) toppled Ian Burns 5-1 at 170 to officially clinch the Wildcats' team victory.
"We got a lot of bonus points which we needed and we won almost every match," said MacCallum, who reached the state meet last winter. "Our lower weights are getting better and they're learning not to give up bonus points."
Junior Austin Koziol held off Stevenson's Ned Valtchev 5-4 at 182 before teammate Joey Nield won a tough 3-0 decision over Jay Feldman at 195. Libertyville 220-pounder Kevin Barbian closed out the meet with a pin in 3:30.
"Having the two pins in a row (at 120 and 126) really helped and it was nice to have Trinkleback's win," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "Koziol had a really good match and Barbian had his arm-bar warmed up to put that match away really quick."
Perfect finish to first half for Libertyville
With the year coming to an end and winter settling in, Libertyville wrestling is really beginning to heat up. Following its terrific performance at the high-profile Dvorak Invite last weekend, the Wildcats (12-1-0) proved to be a most difficult holiday host Saturday afternoon, defeating a trio of opponents to finish the first half of their season on a high note while setting themselves up for a strong second half.
Junior Kayne MacCallum (22-2) sparkled in all three of his bouts, including his last of the day at 182 pounds to help fuel a 40-24 victory over Schaumburg (10-7-0) and a sweep of Normal and Crystal Lake South in the Four Winter Break Quad on the 'Cats home mats. Schaumburg, one of the top clubs in the Mid-Suburban League this season, went 2-1. The Saxons edged South 36-33 and rolled past undermanned Normal in their opener. Crystal Lake South finished 1-2. The Gators came close in both losses and handled Normal in their finale 56-12.
"It was a very good day," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert, whose club will turn its attention towards North Suburban Lake rivals Warren, Stevenson and Lake Zurich in its quest for a division title. "We were very pleased with the effort and outcome at the Dvorak, and with guys like Kayne and (Chris) McDermand leading the way, we were able to earn 7 medals and ninth-place finish overall — and that's saying something when you consider all 7 medals came from underclassmen."
MacCallum, who already has earned championship rings at both the Moore-Prettyman and Hawks Invite this season, came away with a fourth-place trophy at 170 pounds at the Dvorak and appears to be on the cusp of bringing home an even bigger prize from the Class 3A state tournament in mid-February.
"Everyone is finally certified at weight, and several of us are bouncing around at other weights in competitions like this to help prepare us for the final weeks of the season," said MacCallum. "It's no different for me — because it's all about what's good for the team, and nothing else."
In the Wildcats' 16-point victory over Schaumburg, the hosts found themselves trailing after Saxons junior Luke Gruszka (17-2) opened things up with a hard-fought 7-4 decision over Austin Pettinato (12-4). It's the second time in a week Gruszka has defeated the state-ranked Wildcats captain.
"Luke wrestled so much better today than he did at the Dvorak when he beat Austin there (9-6), so that was big for him, and also for us," said Schaumburg coach Mike Levanti, who was without Sadarriss Patterson (160) and Austin Manetta (182, 12-6) for the day.
After the 3-point decision by Gruszka, it was all Libertyville. The Cats built a 13-point advantage (16-3) when Sal Ayala (160) and Austin Koziol (172) pinned their opponents, before MacCallum, up a weight at 182, recorded an impressive 10-1 major decision triumph. Matt Stopka (17-5) stopped the bleeding for Schaumburg with a fall at 195, but the Wildcats were back at it with back-to-back pins from Kevin Barbian and McDermand to seemingly put this one away early.
Cats go 1-1 at Barrington SuperQuad
Battered, bruised and hobbled by a knee injured during his first match of the day, Libertyville's Austin Pettinato said he felt like an old man as he searched for an extra large bag of ice to ease his pain. But after sipping from the fountain of youth, and getting some much-needed recovery time between bouts, the Wildcats senior outlasted state ranked Coord Wiseman of Barrington in a superb match at 145 pounds to help drive his teammates to a 26-24 vitory Saturday afternoon at Barrington. The edgy 2-point victory gave the Wildcats a 1-1 record on the day, the same as Cary-Grove (7-3). Central Suburban League power Deerfield finished with the best record of the day at 2-1 following a 32-30 decision over the Broncos (9-3) in the final dual.
"This was a very impressive group of teams," said Barrington coach Ken Hoving, who lost 6 points to a forfeit against Deerfield when Wiseman was unable to go after suffering a hand injury during his match with Pettinato. "There were all sorts of regional implications today with both Cary-Grove and Deerfield in our regional at Lake Zurich, and Libertyville is a strong favorite to win the Grant regional, making the two regional champs opponents in the dual-team sectional.
"On top of that, all four of us are in the sectional here in February, so we're all going to see the best each team has to offer then." This quad became a marathon as nearly each match ended with a 5-3, 7-4, 2-0 six-minute decision, with the combatants fighting dearly for every point.
"There was some great wrestling out there," said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. "Many of the matches came down to who would score last before riding out until the end, so it was a lot of fun for the spectators for sure."
Eggert's club got off to a nice start against Deerfield, running out to a 14-3 advantage after Pettinato recorded a 9-0 major decision over Alex Acosta. But the roof caved in on the Cats afterward as the Warriors slowly chipped away at the lead until Jim Kirby's fall at 4:16 put them ahead 18-17.
Kevin Barbian's 9-7 OT win at 220, followed by another OT thriller from heavyweight Chris McDermand pushed the Cats ahead at 23-18. But forfeits at 106 and 113 did them in.
"Deerfield really surprised us with their intensity, but give them credit, they are a very good team," said Eggert, who club is 8-1.
The much anticipated Barrington-Libertyville dual was a beauty right until the end. After the Cats conceded two forfeits to give the hosts a 24-23 lead, senior Steve Polakowski won it for the Broncos when he pitched a 5-0 shutout in the final contest at 120 pounds.
The Pettinato-Wiseman was the highlight of this 14-match battle, with heavyweights McDermand vs. Ben Calamari of Barrington a close second.
A late deuce put Pettinato up 2-0 after the first period, but a second-period filled with plenty of hand fighting ended 2-2 when Wiseman finished off a nifty single as the clock ticked down.
Neither star gave an inch in the third and final period, but after Wiseman scored an escape to go up 3-2, Pettinato, the 2012 NSC champ, grabbed the lead for good with a takedown with six seconds left in regulation.
"I forfeited my match to (Coord) at sectionals last season because of an ankle injury I suffered in my regional final, and went out and gave it my all in the backdraw but lost (7-6) to Michael Carbajal (of Waukegan) and that was it for me," said Pettinato. "I was all go-go-go last year because it's all about the team, and I don't want to let them down. But this year, I am trying to be a little smarter in dealing with injuries, because I want to be there at end when it really counts for the team, then myself."
McDermand (9-4) defeated Calamari, who is clearly less than 100 percent as he continues to fight an ankle sprain.
Great day for Libertyville at Hoffman Estates
Libertyville once again measured up nicely against some of the state’s best teams after narrowly missing out on upending Lincoln-Way Central in the 35th annual Hoffman Estates Hawks Invitational on Saturday. Lincoln-Way Central held off Libertyville by 10½ points to capture the team championship.
Dale Eggert’s team entered the final round leading the fifth-ranked Knights 193.50-187.0, and with a half dozen weights competing for titles, Libertyville seemed to be in great position. Although the Wildcats came away with three champions, Central still managed to overtake the runners-up by matching the Cats with three champions of their own. Lincoln-Way Central also had five third-place winners to just two for Libertyville.
“What a great day it was for us,” said Eggert, who watched sophomore Joey Gunther upset fourth-ranked Robbie Mikenis (L-Way Central) in the final at 138. Kayne MacCullum (160) and heavyweight Chris McDermand also took the top spot on the podium for Libertyville.
“This a very strong field here, and we were so happy to hear that Lincoln-Way came back again this year after they talked last year about not returning this season,” said Eggert. “There was such a terrific variety of styles and wrestlers here, and it’s something we look forward to each and every year we’re here. To finish a close second to a team like Lincoln-Way is something we’re thrilled with.”
Gunther’s 5-2 decision over Mikenis of Lincoln-Way Central was the biggest surprise on the day. “Getting that first takedown really helped me a lot, and when I got those back points to go up (4-0) I just stacked things up and worked hard to keep him under control and the match close,” said Gunther, just after beating the 2012 state place winner.
“I knew Joey wouldn’t give up a 4-0 lead,” said a confident Eggert, who also had plenty of praise for MacCullum, saying, “He’s just a gunner. He keeps coming at you and never stops, and that’s the way he came out in his final with (Paul) Papoutis (of New Trier), who is a very strong leg rider.”
MacCullum doubled his lead to 4-1 after a deuce near the edge in the first period, then did so once again (8-4) with a late two to put away the Trevians senior.
“We are all very fortunate to have a coach like Dale Eggert, who prepared us so well with his technical and tactical knowledge as well as his ability to make us conditioned better than anyone else,” said MacCullum, who missed the first half of last year with a knee injury, but came back to advance into the Barrington sectional.
Libertyville impresses with Alumni Night triumph
The seventh annual Libertyville Wrestling Alumni Night provided quite a showcase for the Wildcats program Thursday night.
Starting the dual meet at 170 pounds, three early pins helped stake Libertyville to a comfortable 25-0 lead before the Wildcats posted an impressive 52-9 North Suburban Conference Lake Division victory over Mundelein. Sixth-ranked Libertyville (6-0, 2-0) got rolling right away with a pin by Diego Rojas at 170 before teammate Austin Koziol added an 11-5 decision over Esteban Guzman at 182. Mundelein (3-5, 0-2) could not stop the early onslaught as 195-pounder Joey Nield followed with a 12-4 major decision over Matt Spitzer before pins by 220-pounder Kevin Barbian and 285-pounder Chris McDermand made the score 25-0.
Despite the loss for the Mustangs, this alumni night was a special one as first-year Mundelein coach Vince Jiuditta (1989 state qualifier) returned to face his old coach, Dale Eggert. Mundelein’s coaching staff also features assistant coach Roy Seeger, who was an assistant coach at Libertyville for 13 years. Libertyville graduates Kirk Christensen (1988 and 1989 state qualifier), and Reed Christensen (1993 and 1994 state qualifier) are also assistant coaches for the Mustangs.
“We work hard, we’re getting better all the time, and a lot of the credit goes to coach Seeger — he’s a great coach and he’s got them doing all of the right stuff,” said Jiuditta. “I’m proud of the kids, they wrestled hard and you have all tough matches when they (Libertyville) are ranked sixth in the state and coach Eggert does a great job.”
Mundelein was very solid at the lower weights as 106-pounder Alec Riportella got the Mustangs on the scoreboard with a 4-1 decision over Joey Locascio. Then in a real see-saw battle, Mundelein’s Ray Ceniceros outlasted Dan Schilling 8-6 at 113 to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 25-6.
At 120, Noah Strong got Libertyville back in the win column with a 6-2 decision over Anthony Wick before sixth-ranked Steve Polakowski got a pin at 126 for a 34-6 advantage. Mundelein’s Matt Hutchinson followed with a 1-0 decision over Danny Trinkleback in a dogfight at 132 before Libertyville’s Tyler Brooks shutout Joey Laurie 3-0 at 138. Joey Gunther’s 8-1 decision over Javier Dominguez at 145 set the stage for a showdown between Libertyville’s Austin Pettinato and Mundelein’s Jake Long at 152.
Pettinato and Long went toe to toe for three periods tied at 4-4 before Pettinato ultimately managed to get a pin with just 11.3 seconds left in overtime in the grueling 7:49 match.
“I dug deep, I heard my team cheering me on, and that gave me the motivation to do what I had to do to win,” said Pettinato. “Last year we were really young and inexperienced, but this year we’re learning things every day and we’re coming together as one.”
Fifth-ranked Kayne MacCallum closed out the meet with a pin at 160. Eggert was very happy with Pettinato’s effort and his squad’s performance.
“Those are two really good guys (Pettinato and Long) that really get fired up, it was very exciting, and the fans loved it,” said Eggert. “It could have gone either way and Long had some really good shots in the third period especially and I thought Pettinato had some tremendous counters.”
“We’re not worried about rankings, we’re worried about getting better every week and I think our guys will tell you the same thing,” added Eggert.
Libertyville finishes 2nd at Barrington
Libertyville’s second-place finish featured nine medal winners, paced by Kayne MacCallum’s title at 170 lbs.
Great Start for the Cats!
It was only their first meet of the season, but Libertyville’s junior-dominated wrestling team is already starting to live up to the hype that will probably be surrounding them for most of the upcoming campaign.
Beginning the North Suburban Conference crossover meet at 132 pounds, the visiting Wildcats actually fell behind Wauconda 4-0 early and they held a fairly slim 13-7 lead after five matches. But that was as close as the Bulldogs got, as Libertyville rolled to an impressive 53-10 victory to get the season going in a very positive direction.
Wauconda (2-2) took its 4-0 lead when two-time Class 2A state qualifier Devin Tortorice posted a 14-5 major decision over Danny Trinkleback to open the dual meet. Libertyville 138-pounder Nick Andrews answered that with a 10-1 major decision over Tyler Holt before a 17-2 technical fall by 145-pound teammate Joey Gunther gave the Wildcats the lead for keeps at 9-4. Wauconda 152-pounder Bruce Pearl’s 8-3 decision over Colton Bast cut the gap to 9-7. But once again Libertyville responded with Sal Ayala’s 17-5 major decision at 160 boosting the lead to 13-7. Many of the Wildcats’ wrestlers moved up a weight class in the meet. Junior Class 3A state qualifier Kayne MacCallum’s pin at 170 and junior Austin Koziol’s 9-4 decision over Alex Schwickwrath at 182 extended the lead to 22-7 before senior teammate Joey Nield’s pin at 195 made the score 28-7.
“They’re a tough team, well coached, and they have good athletes,” said Wauconda coach Tom Nance. “Hopefully we’re going to be mentally tougher because in too many matches we stopped halfway through our moves. We’ve got some improving to do and we’re going to work hard to make sure we get there.”
Wauconda two-time state qualifier Nate Magiera stopped the Wildcats’ momentum briefly with a 7-0 decision over Kevin Barbian at 220. But Libertyville 285-pounder Chris McDermand got those 3 team points back by outlasting Wauconda’s Will Danner 1-0 in a classic defensive struggle.
Then came the match of the night as Liberytville 106-pound freshman Joey Locascio appeared to be headed to a certain defeat, trailing Wauconda freshman Mikey Tortorice 12-2 late in the third period. But a crucial mistake by Tortorice resulted in Locascio on top, and Locascio wound up getting a pin with 21 seconds left much to the chagrin of the devastated Tortorice, who thought there may have been a quick count by the referee. A forfeit win by 113-pounder Jackson Chartier, a pin by junior state qualifier Steve Polakowski at 120, and a 9-1 major decision by junior Noah Strong at 126 put the finishing touches on Libertyville’s performance.
“I think our team is actually pretty young, most of them are juniors, and they’re probably one of the best classes that we’ve ever had,” said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. “This current junior class coming in has lived up to their ability and their talent by just really hard work. They’ve put in a tremendous amount of effort in the off-season and it shows.”
Libertyville advances three to State
The present — and future — of Libertyville’s wrestling program were on display at the Barrington Sectional on Saturday.
First, the present: 120-pound senior Pat Fitzgerald won his final four matches to qualify to the Class 3A state tournament. His semifinal wrestleback — against Grant’s Ben Soumar — was the big one, ensuring a trip to Champaign. It was an instant classic, as Fitzgerald outlasted Soumar 3-1 in overtime.
“In my mind, I was going to play it safe, and then (Soumar) kept attacking, and I got more aggressive,” said Fitzgerald, who also qualified for State as a sophomore. “Then, in the OT match, I had a nice shot and finished it right away — nice and clean. It was do or die anyway. It’s either I make it or I don’t. So why not give it everything I got?” He then pinned Prairie Ridge’s Eric English in overtime to clinch third place.
Regarding Fitzgerald (37-10), no one can say he didn’t earn his second career trip to State. Fitzgerald, who won preliminary match over Glenbrook South’s Amra Otgonbaatar 7-2, put himself in survival mode, when he fell to Harlem’s Zac Denny 3-1 in his second bout.
“To come back from possible elimination to take third place? That was huge,” said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. “I’m thrilled.” Fitzgerald finished the tourney 5-1.
Moving on — to the future — two other Wildcats who qualified for State are sophomores.
Kayne MacCallum (19-10) claimed a runner-up finish at 152 pounds. He sealed a trip to Champaign by earning a 2-1 decision over Stevenson’s Justin Weber in the semifinals.
“As a sophomore, it’s amazing,” MacCallum said about making the finals. “I have a lot of work to do to get ready for State.” He wound up losing to Crystal Lake South standout Tom Gerszewski by fall (1:22) in the title match. Gerszewski is now 40-1.
Libertyville sophomore Steve Polakowski (31-9) also claimed a state berth with a fourth-place finish at 113.
“If he didn’t beat a returning State qualifier from Deerfield (Keven Hoogheem, in a second-round match on Friday), we knew he’d have a hard time coming through,” Eggert said. Polakowski came through in the clutch, downing Hoogheem 7-4. Then, after getting pinned by Harlem’s Jordan Northrup in the semifinals, he used a 3-2 decision over McHenry’s Mike Sikula in the wrestleback semifinal to gain a state qualification. Polakowski came ever so close in the third-place match, dropping a 6-5 score to New Trier’s MJ Pritchard.
Hard luck: Another wrestler expecting to qualify for the state tournament was Austin Pettinato (29-11). But the 145-pounder severely sprained his ankle in a regional final match on Feb. 4, and he was unable to practice during the week leading up to sectionals. But after defaulting Friday, Pettinato decided to give it a go on Saturday. However, his ankle was not healed, and Pettinato missed several takedown chances. The Libertyville junior lost a 7-6 decision to Waukegan’s Michael Carajal.
“That was tough,” Eggert said. “Injuries happen. That’s the way it goes.” Teammates had Pettinato in mind when they were earning their own trips to Champaign. “He was going so hard — working at his best ability — and got screwed up in regionals,” MacCallum said. “He’s a junior, so he’ll be back.” Added Fitzgerald: “Austin should have easily made it down. I was very upset for him. I was basically winning those matches for him.”
Five other Libertyville wrestlers competed in the sectional. Chris McDermand (285) was one win shy of qualifying for State, losing in the wrestle backs to Barrington’s Ben Calamari. Kevin Barbian (220) went 1-2. He had an opening-round win over Wheeling’s Jesus Rodriguez. The sophomore finished the season 24-17.
Polakowski, Pettinato earn league crowns
By John Kerr | Libertyville Review
On a day when Libertyville High School recognized its storied wrestling past, it was forging ahead in the present.
Hosting the North Suburban Conference league meet Friday and Saturday, the Wildcats staged a reunion of their 2002 sectional championship team. As names such as Jeff Keske, Anthony Panico and Jim Friend were recognized for past accomplishments, current wrestlers such as Steve Polakowski assured their own legacies. The 113-pound sophomore earned a conference championship, decisively winning all three of his matches. Polakowski’s run to the crown culminated in a 3-0 decision over Grant’s Noah Drabek.
“It’s really nice,” said Polakowski, who improved to 27-7 overall. “All that hard work pays off.” A takedown in the second period all but won the match for Polakowski, who held on and, “chopped (Drabek) him down at the start of the third period. I hit his wrists right away. I knew I could ride him out the whole period if I kept it up with the intensity.”
That intensity was hatched when he picked up the sport at Highland Middle School in the sixth grade. It wasn’t until he landed at Libertyville as a freshman that Polakowski made a quantum leap. Working out with older teammates such as senior Pat Fitzgerald (126), and the lighter Noah Strong (106) has helped with his pace. A November victory against St. Rita’s powerful Colton Kielbasa was revealing in how it proved to Polakowski that he could compete with the state’s best. “I got a big takedown and reversal, and got a bunch of back points and a big lead,” Polakowski said. “It was nice to make it to the finals.” And as he walked to the podium after being announced as the first-place winner, he was congratulated by members of the 2002 team. All at once, Libertyville’s past and present were on display.
Recap: It was day worthy of celebration for the Wildcats, and for one member, specifically. Saturday marked long-time head coach Dale Eggert’s birthday. A conference championship would have been icing on the cake, but Libertyville’s second-place finish (213 points) behind Grant (224.5) provided plenty of smiles all around.
“(Grant) is a good team, and we fought hard the whole day. It wasn’t a very good Friday but it was an excellent Saturday,” said Eggert, not mentioning his birthday. The Wildcats ended the tournament with two champions — Polakowski and Austin Pettinato (145) — who defeated Zion-Benton’s Adrian Collier 7-1 in the first-place match. Libertyville had four second- and third-place finishers, allowing them to leapfrog from Friday’s third-place spot into the runner-up position on Saturday.
Second-place winners were Fitzgerald (30-11) at 126, Charlie Meyer (21-16) at 132, Kevin Barbian (22-14) at 220 and Chris McDermand (28-9) at 285. Third-place winners were Kyle May (27-8) at 120, Josh Hirth (17-17) at 138, Kayne MacCallum (14-9) at 152 and Sal Ayala (26-12) at 160. Other medalists were Austin Koziol at 170 (5th place) and Connor O’Donnell at 182 (6th place).
Eggert was particularly pleased with MacCallum, who’s rounding into form after starting the season late while recovering from a knee injury. “He wrestled in a really tough class and beat a returning State qualifier (Vernon Hills’ Danny Klema),” Eggert said. “He’s back to where we expect him to be.”
It was the first time since 2008 that Libertyville didn’t win the conference tournament. The Cats have bigger goals in mind, such as winning their own regional. The Wildcats will watch quite a bit of video in preparation. “We’re going to show highlights of each match and confront them on mistakes,” Eggert said. “These guys know what they are supposed to do. It’s now time to do it.
McDermand making leap to top of heap
By Jon Kerr | Libertyville Review
The jump from under-levels to varsity can be fraught with land mines and speed bumps for high school athletes. Some make the transition, others don’t. In the case of Libertyville High School wrestler Chris McDermand, one can term his upward mobility a success.
Competing at the freshman level last season, the 6-foot-1, 285-pounder was undefeated. He had the record — and skill — to make the jump to varsity as a sophomore. But there were some missing pieces. “He had to come a long way in terms of fitness,” said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. “It’s not easy being a sophomore in the upper weights.” So he kept wrestling, qualifying for the USA Wrestling Cadet Greco-Roman & Freestyle Nationals in Fargo, ND last summer. An injury kept him from competing, but the journey was a catalyst for this season. His stamina improved along with his intellect, as McDermand’s understanding of mat strategy has catapulted him to a 23-8 record so far this season, including 14 pins.
“He has some good hips, so most of his pins come on upper body locks,” Eggert said. “He can also turn it from the top position as well, so he’s got a pretty good arsenal going. He wants to hear what you have to say and works hard at what you tell him to do.” Much of that comes from assistant coach Roy Seeger, who’s helped shape McDermand’s style. That was on display Saturday at the Lyons Township Quad, as McDermand pinned his opponents from DeKalb and Conant. He won his match against a Warren foe 2-0 on Friday.
A three-sport athlete, McDermand swaps his football shoulder pads for wrestling gear in November, then competes in discus and shot put in track, beginning in March. “A football player who wrestles is tough. He doesn’t like to get smacked in the face,” Eggert said. “With shot and discus, they get to work on explosiveness, which will come in handy.”
For Chris McDermand, so far so good.
LHS vs. Warren: In a battle for the conference lead, Libertyville (14-4, 4-1) lost control to Warren, dropping Friday’s dual meet 25-22.
The meet came down to the 182-pound weight class. With the match tied at 22-22, Austin Koziol dropped a close one, falling 3-2. The highlight was at 113, where Steve Polakowski won his match 3-0. Pat Fitzgerald also won his match at 126, prevailing 3-2, while Austin Pettinato came up with a clutch pin at 145 pounds.
“It’s a great meet, and they have a really good team,” Eggert said. “We’re doing everything we can to stay in the game with those guys.”
Lyons Township Quad: The Wildcats had no time to stew over the loss, as they had a quick turnaround, wrestling in the LT Quad a day later. And Libertyville performed well, winning all three matches handily. The Cats topped the host Lions 36-18, downed DeKalb 46-9 and clipped Conant 43-19. Freshman Joey Gunther scored a pin at 138 against a Lyons Township foe, and also won his match against a DeKalb opponent. Fitzgerald and Josh Hirth (138) also scored solid wins against their DeKalb counterparts.
“I admit it’s kind of a downer losing the night (of) the biggest meet of the year,” said Eggert. “But wrestling is the kind of sport where you better bring it the next day, as you can get thumped pretty good. I thought we rose to the occasion (at LT).”
Libertyville meets its match in Oak Park
With the No. 1-ranked team in the state in town for a triple-dual meet, host Libertyville knew it had to be ready to wrestle Saturday.
The first round went quite well for the Wildcats as they posted an impressive 42-14 nonconference victory over Wheaton North. But the second round would not go nearly as well as top-ranked Oak Park (13-0) posted a 43-12 victory over Libertyville (11-3) after trailing 9-6 early in the dual meet. The Wildcats did bounce back with a strong performance to end the day as they toppled St. Rita 39-17. Wheaton North (8-9) lost a 35-31 match to St. Rita to start the day before falling to Oak Park 52-21 in the final round. Oak Park added a 56-9 victory over St. Rita in the opening round.
Sophomore Chris McDermand (285 pounds) was one of two Libertyville wrestlers to capture three victories on the day. McDermand pinned St. Rita’s Brendan Galbraith in only 53 seconds to give the No. 18-ranked Wildcats a commanding 36-17 lead with one match remaining. Senior Kyle May (120 pounds) also picked up three victories for Libertyville, with the benefit of a forfeit win against Oak Park.
“Oak Park just out-horsed and out-hustled us at many weight classes, and they’re just a great team,” said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert, whose team hosts Warren in an NSC Lake Division showdown next Friday. “McDermand is really coming on strong and he is a pinner. He placed at the Harlem tournament and he’s been hot.”
Noah Strong (106), Pat Fitzgerald (120/126), Charlie Meyer (132), Austin Pettinato (145) and Austin Koziol (170) all went 2-1 for Libertyville.
It’s advantage Libertyville in win at Mundelein
This is one North Suburban Conference wrestling meet host Mundelein hoped would be much different heading into the season. But losing 18 points due to three forfeits, the Mustangs did not stand much of a chance Friday night as Libertyville pulled away in the second half of the dual meet for a 43-20 NSC Lake Division victory.
Starting at 113, Mundelein built a quick 6-0 lead on a pin by Matt Hutchinson. Libertyville (9-2, 4-0) responded with 120-pounder Kyle May’s 9-4 decision over Gilbert Ceniceros before Libertyville 126-pound senior Pat Fitzgerald (20-6) recorded a technical fall in 3:24 to give the Wildcats an 8-6 advantage early on.
“I think this is the best I’ve ever wrestled, and I’m more aggressive than last year,” said Fitzgerald, who reached the state meet as a sophomore. “I push the pace a lot more this year and I’ve changed my style a lot since last year.”
Libertyville’s Charlie Meyer won a 4-0 decision over Dan Winberg at 132 before undefeated 138-pound senior Matt Ornoff (22-0) got a technical fall to deadlock the score at 11-11. Ornoff’s victory adds to his school record with 135 career wins against only 21 losses. The previous record was 123 wins set in 2004. Mundelein coach Tom Buenik knew the odds were stacked against his squad heading into Friday’s meet.
“We knew we would stack up well with them at the lower weights, but we were starting in a hole because of the forfeits,” said Buenik, whose team is 1-3 in the Lake Division. “Ornoff is doing well — he’s wrestling his style, and he wrestled at 138 for the second time this season.”
Junior Austin Pettinato recorded a pin in exactly one minute at 145 to give the Wildcats the lead for keeps at 17-11. Mundelein’s Jake Long got a last-second takedown for a 4-2 decision over sophomore Kayne MacCallum at 152 to cut the gap to 17-14, but that is as close as the Mustangs would get the rest of the way. An 8-0 major decision at 160 by Libertyville’s Sal Ayala boosted the lead to 21-14 before Mundelein made one final stand. Javier Dominguez posted a 9-2 decision for the Mustangs over Austin Koziol at 170 to make the score 21-17. But then forfeit victories by Connor O’Donnell at 182 and Kevin Barbian at 195 gave the Wildcats a commanding 33-17 lead with three bouts left. Tim Grote added a 13-2 major decision for Libertyville at 220 before 285-pound teammate Chris McDermand’s forfeit win made the score 43-17. Mundelein 106-pounder Ray Ceniceros edged Noah Strong 5-3 with a late takedown to account for the final score.
“They were behind the eight ball with the three forfeits, but other than that it was a good meet,” said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert, whose team will face No. 1-ranked Oak Park in a triple-dual meet Saturday. “Pettinato locked up a good move and got him (Connor O’Shaughnessy) on the first takedown.”
Libertyville’s Pettinato driven to succeed
Libertyville Review | December 16, 2011
The first thing you notice about Libertyville junior wrestler Austin Pettinato is his drive.
“He brings the intensity that the majority of our guys don’t have,” Wildcats coach Dale Eggert said. “He’s mentally tough and always wants advice. When you give it, he wants to implement it. Whatever you can offer, he’s full-speed ahead.”
For Pettinato, it is natural to follow the advice of Eggert.
“He makes me want to learn and listen,” Pettinato said. “He doesn’t just teach you to wrestle; he’s helped me become a better person.”
Pettinato understands the necessity of maximizing every practice and every conditioning session. He didn’t play football this fall in order to devote his full attention to wrestling.
“I wanted to be in the best possible shape,” he said. “I’ve been wrestling my whole life and I’m dedicated to this. You’re on the mat for six minutes. I want to be able to go as hard as I possibly can (for those six minutes).” Through 24 matches, Pettinato has an 18-6 record in the 145-pound weight class.
“When you lose, you have to learn from your mistakes,” he said. “I’ve learned from every one of my matches.”
Pettinato wrestled his first year on the freshman team and his varsity time as a sophomore was limited by injury. At the end of the season, he qualified for the freshman-sophomore state championships. He placed third at 130 pounds, which qualified him for the inaugural frosh/soph national championship. This season, he placed third at the Barrington Tournament and second at the Hoffman Estates Tournament.
“He’s grown a lot this season,” Eggert said. “He continues to make the most out of each week.”
Metea Valley Quad Recap:
McDermand leads way: Sophomore Chris McDermand led the Wildcats to a 3-0 record at the Metea Valley Quad on Friday. This ran the Wildcats’ record to 8-2.
McDermand won all three matches via pin. “He’s developed the confidence to go out there and be aggressive right away,” Eggert said. “He’s making things happen and that’s a credit to him. He’s becoming a very dangerous wrestler.”
The Wildcats defeated Crystal Lake South (33-24), Metea Valley (55-12) and Schaumburg (37-20). “We weren’t very aggressive at the start against Crystal Lake South but we finished strong,” Eggert said.
Steve Polakowski won three matches (113), two via pin. Noah Strong (103), Pat Fitzgerald (120), Kyle May (126) and Charlie Meyer (132) each won two matches. Joey Gunther (138) made his varsity debut and won 9-4. “He had four solid takedowns,” Eggert said. “It was an impressive win.”
Fitzgerald, Pettinato and McDermand all finished in the top eight at the 32-team Harlem Invitational on Dec. 22-23. Pettinato and Fitzgerald reached the semifinals, placing fifth and sixth, respectively. Four of McDermand’s five wins came by pin and he placed seventh. Polakowski, May, Meyer and Connor O’Donnell (182) each won two matches. Kayne MacCallum (152) came through with a victory in his first action of the season. Sal Ayala (160), Austin Koziol (170) and Tim Grote each won a match.
The Wildcats finished in 18th place. “Almost every school that placed ahead of us was ranked somewhere in the top 25 so we were OK with 18th,” Eggert said.
Libertyville’s Gaeth earning respect in Division III
Libertyville Review | December 16, 2011
Libertyville High School graduate Luke Gaeth, a freshman at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), has earned honorable mention status on the latest d3wrestle,com rankings.
Gaeth, who wrestles at 125 pounds, has a 13-6 overall record. He took third in Saturday’s North Central College Invitational — winning 4-3 in triple overtime in the third-place match.
Earlier this season, he took second in the Knox Invitational and fourth in the MSOE Invitational.
Fitzgerald is champ at Hawk Invite
With two-time state champion Steve Congenie of Willowbrook still on the sidelines rehabbing from off-season surgery, the 34th annual Hawk Invitational was without its top individual attraction when competition began in Hoffman Estates on Saturday. Lincoln-Way Central seized its opportunity to become star of the day with a commanding performance, earning 11 medals with two individual champions en route to the team title by 45 points.
The Knights collected 214.5 points to outdistance 2A power Notre Dame and Central Suburban League favorite New Trier (third at 162.50). Reigning North Suburban Conference champ Libertyville (152.0) finished fourth overall with Naperville Central (136) rounding out the top five.
While area teams were unable to get into the top three, they were able to celebrate four championships. South Elgin senior Cody Pych won at 170 pounds, and Libertyville’s Pat Fitzgerald avenged a loss to Joey Nelson (Lincoln-Way Central) suffered last season with a 3-2 victory over Nelson to capture the 120-pound crown. Fitzgerald (11-2) wrestled a marvelous tactical match against his state-ranked opponent, whose long, lean body offered plenty of challenges during the 120-pound final.
“It was important to keep him tied up and as close to me as possible, because if he was able to extend, I was going to be in a lot of trouble,” said Fitzgerald, who struck first with a well disguised single to go up 2-0 in the first period before taking the lead for good with an escape after starting in the down position to start the third period. “I began the season at the Moore-Prettyman at 126, and that’s not a good weight for me. But I feel very good at either (120) or 112, that’s for sure.”
Kyle May (126), Charlie Meyer (132) and Sal Ayala (160) all finished third in their respective divisions for the Wildcats, while junior Austin Pettinato (10-3) dropped a 12-7 decision to Tim Donnelly (Notre Dame) in his 145-pound final, as did Kevin Barbian at 195.
Libertyville takes 5th at Barrington
The two-day tournament concluded with the host Broncos rolling to the championship of the 30-team meet with 273.5 points to easily topple runner-up Plainfield Central with 164 points. Libertyville led the way for Lake County squads with a fifth-place score of 135 points to outdistance North Suburban Conference rival Grant (130.5 points) in seventh. Stevenson’s young team edged Lake Zurich 71-62 for 16th place while Lakes’ short-handed squad placed 22nd with 46 points. Wauconda (42 points) ended up in 26th place.
Libertyville had seven top-eight placewinners, including sophomore Steve Polakowski, who placed second at 113 pounds. Junior Austin Pettinato added a third-place finish for the Wildcats at 145 while teammate Pat Fitzgerald posted a 5-0 shutout over Wauconda’s Devin Tortorice for fifth place at 126. Josh Hirth placed fifth for Libertyville with a 6-5 overtime win at 138.
“I actually think that fifth was a little higher than I thought we would be and everybody but one guy won two matches,” said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. “Everybody got a win so I’m happy with that. I’m very happy with the second place (by Polakowski) because it’s not easy to get to the finals in this tournament.”
Charlie Meyer added a sixth for Libertyville at 132 while Lake Zurich’s Brandon Arteaga placed eighth at 132. Libertyville’s Sal Ayala posted a 7-2 decision over Lake Zurich’s Scott Hoff for seventh at 160 while Stevenson’s Ian Burns placed eighth at 170.
For More photos from the Barrington Invitational, click on these links: Friday, Nov. 25 Saturday, Nov. 26
Grant tips Libertyville at Alumni Night
By John Bumbales | Daily Herald Correspondent
The sixth annual Libertyville alumni night turned into quite a showdown between the host Wildcats and Grant in their wrestling season opener Wednesday night.
Starting at 195, which is one of 10 new weight classes, Grant held a slim lead for basically the entire dual meet until Libertyville 160-pounder Sal Ayala pinned his opponent to deadlock the score at 22-22 with two matches remaining. But a technical fall by Grant 170-pounder Tony Cashmore made the score 27-22 before Libertyville’s Austin Koziol recorded a 6-0 decision to close out the meet, giving the visiting Bulldogs a 27-25 North Suburban Conference crossover victory. Koziol came through with a big takedown with 24 seconds to go in the third period, but he was unable to record the pin for what would have been a dramatic 28-27 team victory.
“Ayala’s pin gave us a shot, and we knew they had Cashmore coming up,” said Libertyville coach Dale Eggert. “What he (Koziol) did at the end, I was hoping he would do earlier.”
The Wildcats’ only lead was at 3-0 when 195-pounder Joey Nield opened the meet with a 5-0 decision over Cole Harvey. The Bulldogs’ Quinton Quarles followed with a 7-3 decision over Kevin Barbian at 220 before Grant 285-pounder Dan Haeffele edged Chris McDermand 1-0 to make the score 6-3. Grant 106-pounder Nick Koch recorded a pin in 5:52, but Libertyville 113-pounder Steve Polakowski held off Nick Kramer with an 8-5 decision to cut the gap to 12-6. The tight battle continued with Grant 120-pounder Ben Soumar posting an 11-3 major decision before Libertyville 126-pounder Pat Fitzgerald beat Grant freshman Noah Drabek 9-3.
“Dale (Eggert) has some young wrestlers and we had a couple of kids step up,” said Grant coach Ryan Geist. “Nick Koch’s pin at 106 was huge and our freshman (Drabek) looked good at 130.”
Charlie Meyer’s 13-0 major decision at 132 cut Grant’s lead to 16-13 before Grant’s Nick Fanella posted a hard-fought 3-2 decision over Josh Hirth at 138 to make the score 19-13. Then Libertyville 145-pounder Austin Pettinato defeated Devin Monroy 6-3 before the Bulldogs’ Ryan Volpe posted a key 3-1 decision over Mike Coutre at 152. Grant is missing a few wrestlers, including 160-pounder Charles Williams while Libertyville’s Kayne MacCallum is recovering from knee surgery.
“I’m only a junior so I’ve never seen us beat Libertyville and it was really nice to see us get a victory like that right at the end,” said Cashmore. “Our practices are way more intense than they were last year.”
Both the Wildcats and Grant will be competing in the powerful Barrington Invitational this weekend beginning Friday morning.