LT’s Gunnar Garelli (bottom) lost a double overtime heartbreaker in the 160-pound finals to Luke Swan of Downers Grove South during the IHSA sectional meet on Feb. 11, but still advanced to the state meet by finishing second. | Ian McLeod

Lyons Township High School junior wrestler Gunnar Garelli already made a successful transition from competing at 126 pounds to 152 pounds. After the sectional pairings were released, Garelli went up another weight, to 160.

“I normally weigh about 161 naturally. I’m giving up a little weight to the guys who are cutting down, but I feel good I don’t have to cut any weight,” Garelli said. 

Garelli, state qualifier last year, not only qualified for state again individually at the IHSA 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional on Feb. 11 with a top-four finish. He nearly won the sectional.

Garelli (37-9) was edged 2-1 in a double-overtime championship epic versus Downers Grove South senior Luke Swan (35-8) in their fourth meeting this season — the third that went to overtime. 

He was the Lions’ lone wrestler to advance to this weekend’s individual state finals. Senior Cooper King (36-6 at 195) and freshman Griff Powell (35-7 at 106) both came one victory from qualifying.

“By far, the toughest sectional. By far,” Garelli said. 

“Today just wasn’t our day, unfortunately, but the effort, the way these kids worked, I couldn’t be more proud, just the way they competed,” LTHS coach Griff Powell said. “They consistently got a lot better and that’s really all you can ask as a coach.” 

Garelli also showed his all-state potential for top-six, all-state honors with a 4-3 semifinal victory over West Aurora junior Noah Quintana (37-6), ranked No. 3 at 160 throughout the season.

In 2022, Garelli was 34-12 and 1-2 at state with a broken left thumb suffered during his third-place sectional victory.

“There’s a lot to be thankful for, being healthy, seeing what I can do,” Garelli said. “I don’t really pay a lot of attention to the rankings, but I knew [Quintana] was No. 3. It means that I can beat anyone in the state.” 

In their state-qualifying matches, King lost 8-4 to third-place Oswego senior Cruz Ibarra (37-6) and Powell lost 9-0 to lost to fourth-place Mt. Carmel junior Lukas Tsirtsis (22-14).

RBHS’ Midona wins sectional title

After Riverside-Brookfield High School junior boys wrestler Josh Gonzalez lost his opening match 6-3 at 138 pounds at the IHSA Class 2A individual Deerfield Sectional on Feb. 10, he reversed another two-and-done sectional outcome like 2022.

“I just put everything I had on the mat,” Gonzalez said.

With a dramatic comeback, Gonzalez literally fought all the way back to his first individual state meet to join senior qualifiers Joe Midona and Devontae Givens with top-four finishes on Feb. 11.

Joe Midona

Midona (31-6 at 220), also a 2022 state qualifier, won the sectional title. Givens (30-16 at 285) and Gonzalez (31-14) were fourth. 

After two wrestleback victories, Gonzalez won his state-deciding match 6-5 with a two-point takedown in the final 20 seconds. 

“It’s a big accomplishment. I’ve been trying to work for this my whole high school career. It’s really nice,” Gonzalez said. 

“Josh had a great run. He loses his first match and now your back’s against the wall. And he ends up having probably the most exciting 20 seconds of the tournament with the last-second takedown,” Curby said. “I still go back and watch the film and my heart starts racing. I’m just so excited for what he was able to accomplish.”

Midona and Givens continue to impress in only their second seasons as wrestlers and hope to finish with top-six, all-state honors.

Midona has improved significantly from last year’s 20-13 record and 0-2 state performance.

“It feels like a second chance to get back and to do more than I did last year,” Midona said. 

Midona’s championship was somewhat anticlimactic, winning by default over Montini Catholic junior Mick Ranquist (26-10).

“It’s kind of a bummer but at the same time you get the first place and the championship,” Midona said. “It’s kind of an iffy win-lose kind of thing.” 

In their third-place matches, Gonzalez lost 8-0 to Wheeling junior Patrick Tinsley (29-11) and Givens lost to De La Salle sophomore David McCarthy (25-7) with a pin in 1:53.  

Givens won’t soon forget his state-qualifying consolation match victory either. He was in charge 6-0 but then recorded a pin with two seconds left.

Senior Quintavius Murrell (30-13 at 120) and sophomore Matt Elzy (20-11 at 182) were both 3-2 and came one victory from state. Murrell lost 18-9 to third-place St. Patrick junior Olin Walker (43-6). Elzy was pinned by fourth-place Fenwick sophomore Matt Paris (18-7) in 5:42.

Undefeated Kaminsky rolls to state finals

Gabe Kaminski | Provided

Undefeated Nazareth Academy sophomore Gabe Kaminski of Riverside earned another trip to the IHSA Class 1A boys wrestling individual state tournament by winning the Coal City Sectional on Feb. 11. 

Second at state last year at 220 pounds, Kaminski is 27-0 in the same weight class after capturing the title by beating Reed-Custer senior Kody Marschner (36-2) with a pin in 3:00. 

Nazareth junior Andrew Fowler (26-13 at 145) and freshman Charlie Dvorak (22-12 at 106) were fourth and also advanced to state with top-four sectional finishes.

Last season, Kaminski (33-5) became Nazareth’s sixth all-stater with a top-six finish. He’s seeking to become the Roadrunners’ second state champion and first multiple all-stater.