34 | February 16, 2017 | The highland park landmark sports hplandmark.com Pair of Giants advance to state meet Neil Milbert Freelance Reporter Highland Park’s threesport star DJ Penick is going to focus on football when he goes to college at Murray State but, in the meantime, he’s ending his high school sports career by having a superlative wrestling season. Penick improved his unblemished record to 35-0 on Feb. 11 when he earned another trip to the state tournament by defending his 182-pound championship in the Class 3A Barrington Sectional. The score was 2-2 in the title match when Penick suddenly ended it by pinning his Dundee opponent Chase Raap with 59 seconds remaining in the second period. He advanced to the match with Raap (40-8) via a semifinal 8-0 major decision over Jake Leske (33-8) of McHenry after eliminating Huntley’s Justin Henry (22-17) on a fall with 59 seconds elapsed in their quarterfinal match. “It’s something to keep me motivated,” Penick said of his flawless season. “I’ve been trying to stay strong, listen to my coaches and have a perfect match every time.” In last year’s state tournament, Penick finished sixth. He then went on to compete in track and made it to the sectionals. But this year Penick doesn’t plan to join the track team when his wrestling season ends. He wants to use the time to get ready for college football. Highland Park’s Alex Rosenbloom (blue) grapples with Stevenson’s Eric Carter at the Barrington Sectional on Saturday, Feb. 11. photos by carlos alvarez/22nd century media D.J. Penick (top) gets the best of McHenry’s Jake Leske during their seminfinal matchup at 182 pounds during the meet. “Football is my passion, and I love the place (Murray State),” he said. “I’ll go and see what I can do down there.” Penick’s 145-pound junior teammate, Alex Rosenbloom (26-5), finished second in the Sectional for the second year in a row, losing a 3-0 decision to Barrington junior Markus Hartman (41-1) in the title match. Rosenbloom, who competed in the 138-pound class last year, fell behind when Hartman got a twopoint takedown at the outset and a second period ankle sprain hindered his attempt to make a comeback. During the off-season Rosenbloom and Hartman work out against one another at the Poeta Training Center. “I tried one of my best moves (to start the match) but it never works on him,” said Rosenbloom. “I should have known better. Other than that one takedown I wrestled pretty well, except for when I went down in the third period. That was a bad idea. “I want to fix areas where I cost myself between now and the state tournament. Last year at state I lost my two matches but I wrestled competitively. I lost by one point in both matches and both guys placed in state so I knew I was right up there.” Hartman had a significant height advantage in the title match and so did Rosenbloom’s semifinal opponent, Eric Carter (38- 9) of Stevenson, who’d defeated him twice this season. This time the match was deadlocked 2-2 going into the final period but then Rosenbloom came on strong to win a 7-5 decision. “My game plan was key,” Rosenbloom said. “Keep moving and get past his elbow. I did a great job on that.” Seeing Rosenbloom avenge his two defeats came as no surprise to his Highland Park coach, Chris Riley. “He has a very high wrestling IQ,” Riley said. “He’s a smart and strategic wrestler. He learns and learns. I was very pleased with his entire tournament. In his final match we were hoping for an upset but he wrestled about as well as he could. There were a lot of tightly contested scrambles.” The Giants’ other sectional representative, 152-pound Steve Weathers (34-4), won his first match on a fall at 1:48 but then was defeated in the quarterfinals by Huntley freshman David Ferrante on a 6-5 decision. Ferrante (26-2) went on to win the championship. Weathers went to the consolation bracket where he took a 13-2 major decision before losing a semifinal match on a decision. Glenbrook North had four wrestlers in the sectional but the only one to make it to the state tournament was senior Jacob Weingardt (30- 12), the fourth place finisher in the 285-pound class. After winning 2-1 overtime decisions in his opening round and quarterfinal matches, the workaholic Weingart lost on a fall in the semifinals. Dropping to consolation bracket, he gained his second overtime decision at the expense of Deerfield’s Peter Runac (27-14), this time by a 4-2 margin in two overtimes. At the end of regulation time the second match with Runac was deadlocked 1-1. An escape followed by a two-point Please see wrestling, 32
hplandmark.com sports the highland park landmark | February 16, 2017 | 35 Words From Wolff Super Bowl latest reason to never give up 1st-and-3 22cm file photo 3 stars of the week 1. Alex Rosenbloom (ABOVE). The wrestler fought through a sprained ankle to finish as the runner-up in the 135 pound weight class at the Barrington Sectional. He punched a ticket to the state tournament in the process. 2. D.J. Penick Penick continued to put on a clinic on the wrestling mat this season, keeping his perfect season alive by winning the 185 pound weight class at sectionals. 3. Dylan Abt. The junior scoring threat potted three goals in two division playoff hockey games against Latin. Derek Wolff firstname.lastname@example.org I spent the majority of Super Bowl LI at a party downtown in River North, where I halfwatched a listless performance from the New England Patriots through the early goings of the fourth quarter. When Stephen Gostkowski kicked a field goal to cut the Atlanta Falcons’ lead to 28-12 with less than 10 minutes remaining, I’d seen enough. I didn’t have a dog in the fight and the game had been, by and large, a snoozefest. Like many people at the party I said my goodbyes, ordered a car back to my apartment in Wrigleyville and watched the latest miraculous sports comeback. I remember watching that kick sail through the uprights and saying aloud, ‘Man, it’s hard to see (New England) coming back from this.’ I was completely wrong, and that’s the beauty of sports; they’re never really over until the final whistle. There are so many moments in life in which we’re faced with adversity, yet athletic competition consistently, routinely offers us chances to overcome it and have a cathartic reaction to it. Both the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Cavaliers overcame trailing 3-1 in their championship series’ in 2016 to capture titles within their sports. In high school sports, come postseason a team is dealing with two main adversaries at all times; the opponent on the other side of the court, as well as the team’s given seed. A few weeks ago I wrote about how important it was to lock up a higher seed in the IHSA postseason races, since there’s a direct correlation between a higher seed and higher chance of success (duh). But at the same time, every year in every sport there seems to be a few teams that rise up from a lackluster regular season and woeful seed to make a run and challenge some of the top teams. The Highland Park girls basketball team drew the No. 20 seed in the IHSA Class 3A Libertyville Sectional for this year’s postseason and will begin their playoff quest with No. 13 Lakes in a contest The Highland Park High School boys soccer team underwent a magical run to a regional title despite being heavy underdogs in 2015. 22nd Century Media File Photo at Warren. The Giants, in my opinion, are better than that seed inclines you to believe. In my tenure working for The Lake Forest Leader and The Highland Park Landmark, one of the most memorable examples of a team that never gave up was the HPHS boys soccer team in late 2015. The Giants drew the No. 15 seed and looked like they would make an early exit, but after winning their first round game they stunned No. 2 seeded Barrington in enemey territory, then defeated Stevenson to claim a regional title in their third match. In the fourth game, they ran into a buzzsaw in a 3-1 loss to eventual state champions Libertyville in the Round of 32, but it was a memorable, magical run for a team that easily defied expectations and refused to bow out quietly. Getting so close to capturing a championship only to fall just short of expectations is another reality of the postseason, one the Atlanta Falcons must have felt in the aftermath of their stunning defeat in the big game. That feeling was also one in which the Lake Forest High School girls field hockey team was acutely, painfully aware of in 2015. The Scouts had title aspirations but fell in the semi-finals that year. In 2016, they roared back to defeat New Trier —backto-back champions in 2014 and 2015— to crown themselves as the best team in Illinois. Regardless of how bright or bleak a team’s fate looks heading into the postseason, we rejoice all the same with each new arrival, because that’s what sports brings us, a chance to shake things up and rewrite the script, a chance to make a mark on history. Tom Brady and his New England Patriots certainly did in Super Bowl LI, which should be an inspiring performance for any athlete across any sport this high school postseason. In the games to come, that vigorous hope will drive whoever winds up capturing state titles across each sport. Athletes in this area certainly have what it takes. Listen Up “It’s something to keep me motivated.” D.J. Penick- The undefeated wrestler speaks up about his 35-0 season and how never losing is a force that has driven him this year to be pefect on the mat. Penick captured a sectional title in the 182 pound weight class. tune in What to watch this week GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD: The Giants are off to the races in their indoor track and field opener. • Highland Park vs. Glenbrook North, Thursday, Feb. 16, 4:30 p.m., Northbrook. Index 27 - Athlete of the Year 26 - Athlete of the Week Fastbreak is compiled by Sports Editor Derek Wolff. Send any questions or comments to d.wolff@22ndcenturymedia. com.