Lyons Township High School sophomore wrestler Gunnar Garelli finished with a fifth-place victory at Hinsdale Central’s Rex Whitlach Invitational Dec. 17-18, but he had higher expectations.

“I was hoping to make the finals [at 126 pounds], but I had a pretty tough draw. I was happy to finish with a win, though,” Garelli said. “I fed right into the No. 2 seed. It was a pretty close match [a 1-0 semifinal loss], but I wasn’t able to get the job done.”

In his next chance at Wheaton Warrenville South’s Ed Ewoldt Invitational on Dec. 29, Garelli impressively wrestled all the way to the 126-pound title.

As the No. 4 seed, Garelli (18-7) beat Lincoln-Way East’s Connor Koehler 8-2 in the final after beating No. 1-seed Chris Sitter of Dixon 5-3 in the semifinals.

Even with a limited lineup of nine wrestlers in the 14 weight classes, the Lions placed 10th overall with 75 points) and had seven place in the top eight in their weights.

Senior Ben Zeman (13-9) took third at 145. Sophomores Sam Costello (12-10 at 220) and Kellan Knop (6-6 at 182) were sixth, junior Zion Hicks (7-5 at 285) was seventh and  juniors Mark Calzada at 160 and Roland Connelly at 138 were eighth. 

The Lions were 18th overall with 48 points at the Whitlach Invite. Besides Garelli’s fifth-place finish, Costello was seventh and Calzada and junior Calum Rogers (150) were eighth. 

Rogers’ 18-3 first-round victory was his second technical fall victory this season. 

“I’ve been working on scoring more points and this has given me a lot more confidence,” Rogers said. “[Overall, eighth is] annoying. I want to do a lot better and I’m working at it.”

LTHS coach Griff Powell said the Lions hope to be near full strength soon after being depleted by injuries and illness throughout the season, resulting in a 2-7 dual meet record with West Suburban Silver losses to Glenbard West and York. The Lions, Hilltoppers and Dukes shared last year’s conference title.