Libertyville edges Grant for NSC crown
Lincolnshire Saturday, 1/26/13 Stevenson's Ned Valtchev (Top) wrestles Grant's Jared Lalanda for 1st place at 182 lbs during Saturday's North Suburban Conference Wrestling Championships hosted by Stevenson High School. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
LINCOLNSHIRE — The Libertyville and Grant wrestling teams were at it again on Saturday.
Since 2006, the two programs took turns reeling off three consecutive North Suburban Conference titles apiece before Grant won last year’s conference tournament title. Libertyville answered in another dogfight by out-pointing Grant 223.5-211.5 to capture this year’s NSC crown.
“It’s always close, and it always comes down to bonus points,” Libertyville’s Kayne MacCallum said. “That’s really all it is — who can get the most bonus points.”
MacCallum (160 pounds), Steve Polakowski (120), and Chris McDermand (285) won individual titles while Austin Pettinato (145), Sal Ayala (152), Austin Koziol (170), Mark Dunsing (195) and Kevin Barbian (220) each placed second for coach Dale Eggert.
“We had a great semifinal round but Grant, they’re fighters,” Eggert said. “Good semifinal wins for both (Koziol and Dunsing), and it took everyone we had to chip in.”
Polakowski used a five-point move in the first period en route to an 8-2 title-mat win over Grant’s Troy Parent.
“We’re similar in size, and I knew if I got my shots off I’d be able to finish,” Polakowski said.
Grant’s Noah Drabek (126) and Jared Lalanda (182) won titles, while four Bulldogs placed second. The senior Lalanda gutted out a 4-3 title-mat decision over Stevenson’s Ned Valtchev.
“I didn’t wrestle last year because I was injured, so this feels good,” Lalanda said. “But Libertyville is our only rival, and we expect to win.”
Third-place Warren had an individual champion in Danny Hicks (170) while fourth-place Lake Zurich had three champs in Brandon Arteaga (138), Sean Lynch (152), and Alex Zurawski (195). Lynch, Polakowski, Antioch’s Mike Gussarson (132) and Stevenson’s Justin Weber (145) all became two-time NSC champions Saturday.
Lynch (15-3) got a late start wrestling after Lake Zurich’s deep playoff run in football this season.
“I’m finally starting to feel good and now is the time to do it,” Lynch said. “I stayed offensive all day today.”
Weber was a workhorse throughout his 9-3 win over Pettinato on the title mat.
“The season is a grind, and some kids can’t handle it. They’re relieved when the season’s over,” Weber (33-2) said. “But I look forward to every practice. I love wrestling and I’m working hard.”
Pettinato (21-4) can vouch for that.
“He doesn’t stop coming. He’s relentless,” Pettinato (21-4) said of Weber. “That match showed me that I have to train even harder to match his intensity.”
Vernon Hills’ Jordan Reich (103), Zion-Benton’s Noey Carillo (113) and Wauconda’s Nate Magiera (220) also won individual titles. Four-time NSC finalist and two-time champion Abel Rios of Zion-Benton was forced to injury default in his title match against Gussarson.
Rios entered the tournament unbeaten, but Wauconda’s Magiera (29-0) was the lone wrestler able to walk away from the NSC tournament with an unblemished record.