Marmion takes team title at Glenbard West

By Bobby Narang for the IWCOA

Marmion Academy didn’t mind the change in venue.

A year ago, the Cadets stormed to the Class 3A regional title on their home mats, pulling away from the competition with 279 points compared to 151 points for Batavia. On Saturday, at the Class 3A Glenbard West Regional, the Cadets followed a similar path by getting a number of outstanding performances, especially in the lower weights.

The Cadets captured six weight class titles to round out a memorable showing with a first-place tally of 212 points. Host Glenbard West finished in second place with 156 points, Batavia claimed third with 126 points, Downers Grove North got fourth with 122 points. 

Overall, Glenbard East placed fifth with 93 points, Lyons snagged sixth with 83 points, Wheaton Warrenville South ended in seventh with 46 points and Willowbrook earned ninth with 37.5 points.

In winning their 11th team regional title in program history, the Cadets showed their dominance from the outset of the finals. Logan Conover (106), Nicholas Garcia (113), Donny Pigoni (126), Zach Stewart (138), Joseph Favia (215) and Mateusz Nycz (285) all won individual regional titles.

With the top three placers from each weight class all advancing to next weekend’s Hinsdale Central Sectional, the Cadets picked up runnerup finishes from Ashton Hobson (144), Christian Favia (157) and Vincenzo Testa (175).

“All of the guys wrestled really hard,” Marmion coach Nathan Fitzenreider said. “We’ve been dealing with a lot of bumps and bruises and injuries, but all the guys are peaking at the just the right time. We’re looking forward to next week.”

Glenbard West rode titles from Tony Shadid (157) and Elliot Torres (150) to a runnerup finish in the team standings.

“Both are seniors,” Glenbard West coach Pat McCluskey said. “Both of them have worked hard in the room this year. For them to come out here today in their home gym is fantastic. They both gave a great effort and we expect them to keep working hard next week. They have both settled in nicely this year. This was a tough regional. The team did outstanding. We knew it was going to be tough to beat Marmion. We have nice guys going to sectionals, which is outstanding. We’ve kept building depth in our program and are building every week to be better.”

Batavia coach Ryan Farwell had six qualify for sectionals, including four regional champions. Imo Garcia (120), Jack Duraski (132), Aidan Huck (144) and Ben Brown (190) all won regional titles.

“The guys wrestled great and prepared for it, and we put six in the finals to have a chance to put somebody through to sectionals in the third-place match, so we feel pretty about about how we did in this tough regional,” Farwell said. “We had six guys in the finals. Imo Garcia capped off a strong day. Jack Duraski wrestled tough and Aidan Huck came back strong. It was a good match for Aidan. He deserved that win. It’s exciting to move into next week. We always try and push more through, but we’re happy with this. I’m really grateful for the coaching staff that I have. They are pushing these guys and are a great group.”

Other regional champions at Glenbard West were Lyons Township’s Gunnar Garelli (165) and Wheaton Warrenville South’s Sedeeq Al Obaidi (175).

3A Glenbard West Regional championship match results: 

106 – Logan Conover, Marmion

Logan Conover fell into an early hole in this title match on Saturday afternoon. Down 5-0 in the first period, Conover stayed poised and bounced back in his typical steady fashion. The freshman turned things around in the second period, pinning Glenbard East’s Waleed Binmahfooz to win the title at 106 pounds.

“The key for me was to keep my composure,” Conover said. “I knew I could wrestle back and told myself if he could get five points in the first, I could get five in the second. I was surprised a bit. All of a sudden, I was behind. I had never wrestled him before. I’m just trying to get momentum for state.”

Conover (27-13) said it’s been a whirlwind first season on the varsity.

“I kind of had confidence for this year,” he said. “I realized in my second match of the season at Lockport after winning a good match, that I can do anything.”

Glenbard West’s Aidan Ortega advanced to sectionals by pinning Downers Grove North’s Logan Luftus.

 113 – Nicholas Garcia, Marmion                                          

Marmion sophomore Nicholas Garcia expected a big showing on Saturday.

That’s because Garcia made a big showing as a freshman, riding a strong regular season to a Class 3A fourth place state showing at 106 pounds.

“I feel much better this year,” Garcia said. “I think I got a lot better in the summer. My pace is better and my attacks are better. Last year I was thinking about state. This year I’m thinking nationally-wise. Fourth at state last year wasn’t even what I wanted. I was looking to make the finals. This year I’m looking to go all the way. I’ve had some nagging injuries in my shoulders and chest, but other than that I’ve been pretty healthy.”

Garcia (38-7) took a big step toward his goal by notching a tech fall victory over Downers Grove North’s Tyler Tiancgo in the finals.

“I just tried to get to my offense, get as many takedowns as possible,” Garcia said.

Willowbrook’s Miteku Branch won his third-place match over Glenbard East’s Lorenz Rios via tech fall.

120 – Imo Garcia, Batavia

Senior Imo Garcia, of Batavia, took a few memories away from the Glenbard West Regional. Besides his first-place medal at 120 pounds, Garcia took a shot from an opponent to his face to leave a bloody cut.

Garcia (21-5) showed his experience with a thrilling 3-0 win over Lyons sophomore Griff Powell in the 120 final.

“It really was a tough one,” Garcia said. “I know him personally. He’s a good wrestler. I just had to keep up my shots and my pace. I couldn’t let him score because he would’ve capitalized. I haven’t wrestled him in a match, but I used to practice with him. I had to keep up my shots.”

Garcia, a two-time state qualifier, is aiming to top his sophomore achievement of placing fourth at state at 106 pounds.

“I lost a few matches that I’m not really proudest of,” Garcia said. “I didn’t think I wrestled my best in those losses. But I feel good now. I’m really pushing it in practice. My coaches and practice partners are really helping me out. I’m trying to make it all the way this year.”

Glenbard West’s Carson Prunty claimed a 7-0 decision over Marmion’s Adam Kopcio for third place.

126 – Donny Pigoni, Marmion

Marmion senior Donny Pigoni (26-11) came out strong in his finals match, riding the momentum from his earlier matches to a tech fall victory over Glenbard West’s Alejandro Aranda in the 126 final.

“I just wanted to work on some stuff, like outside carry a lot,” Pigoni said of his finals strategy. “I just tried to get to my offense as fast as possible.”

Pigoni, who has yet to commit to a college, said he’s aiming to avoid a repeat of his past two trips to the state tournament.

“I’m really motivated after losing in the blood rounds both times at state,” he said. “I don’t want to let that happen again. One of the big things for me is I was too closed off in my (state) matches, so I just have to open up.

“Everything has been going well for me. I’ve had some tough matches. I’ve been focusing on my offense more this year.”

Glenbard East sophomore Ismael Chaidez is finishing his season in a strong manner, earning a 12-0 major decision victory over Batavia’s Kyle Pasco in the third-place match.

132 – Jack Duraski, Batavia

Batavia junior Jack Duraski did everything required to win the 132-pound title match on Saturday.

Duraski and Glenbard West junior Ulises Rosas were locked in for a must-see match, which included several wrestlers lining up along the ropes to get a front-row view.

In the end, Duraski pulled out a 1-0 victory to win his weight class.

Or, he thought he did.

The announcer accidentally declared Rosas the winner, until quickly reversing and barking out the actual winner.

“I kept on trying to improve my position and just tried to show the ref that I kept on moving,” Duraski said. “My conditioning was everything. If you don’t have good conditioning, you don’t win a tight match like that one. I actually won a 1-0 (match) in Granite City this year. I just kept on pushing and wanted it more.”

Duraski (25-8) said he’s looking to avenge his blood round loss at sectionals in his sophomore season.

“I feel way better this year,” he said. “It’s been all about practice and getting runs in after practice and doing extra stuff.

Lyons junior Jack Kutchek defeated Downers Grove North’s Adian Cummings 9-5 win to snag the third-place medal.

138 – Zach Stewart, Marmion

Marmion sophomore Zach Stewart had a challenging and a long match in his finals’ bout against Downers Grove North’s Caden Chiarelli.

Stewart (24-7) had to endure three blood timeouts, watching trainers clean off the blood from Chiarelli’s nose. During the timeouts, Stewart walked around the mat, joked with his coaches and even watched Glenbard West’s Brennan Myra pin Wheaton Warrenville South’s Cooper Hollis for the third-place medal.

Stewart eventually made the most of his long wait, earning a technical fall victory over his opponent.

Even Stewart had a small cut on his right shoulder.

“That (match) was too long,” Stewart said. “It’s frustrating when people keep bleeding. At first, in the finals, I wanted to put him away as quick as possible. When I realized I couldn’t pin him, I just kept taking him down.”

Last season, Stewart had a “pretty good year” before losing at 120 pounds in the state blood rounds.

“Last year I learned not to cut as much weight as I did,” Stewart said. “That put me at risk for injuries. Confidence is a not a problem for me. I have to keep doing what I’m doing, and it will work and pay off.”

Glenbard West sophomore Brennan Myra closed out a strong weekend by pinning Wheaton Warrenville South senior Cooper Hollis in the third-place match.

144 – Aidan Huck, Batavia

Batavia senior Aidan Huck was motivated for a rematch with Marmion’s Ashton Hobson. Huck said Hobson beat him by one point three weeks ago, causing him to reevaluate a few things.

Huck got his wish to face Hobson, recording a tough 6-4 decision in the 144-pound final at Glenbard West for the regional championship.

“I wrestled him prior about three weeks ago, so during that whole match I got out of position a little bit and wasn’t very disciplined,” Huck said. “Throughout the next three weeks, I worked on just staying in position the entire time. I knew he was good at taking shots from distance. This feels good. It will definitely help going into sectionals.”

Huck said he’s looking for a three-peat by making state again. He wrestled at 113 in his sophomore year and at 126 last season.

“It’s a lot different being a captain and being there for my team as a senior,” Huck said. “I think I have little bit more confidence, which is a big thing.”

The third-place match featured Downers Grove North’s Owen Kelly pulling out a 5-1 win over Glenbard West’s Brandon Watson.

150 – Elliot Torres, Glenbard West

After a few disappointing endings, Glenbard West senior Elliot Torres (31-3) was looking to change his story in regionals. Wrestling at his home gymnasium was a big confidence booster for Torres, who pinned Batavia’s Dylan Wells in the second period to claim a regional title.

“My (finals) went pretty good,” Torres said. “I got to my double, the same thing I’ve been hitting all year. Got to my cradle and locked it up, set the guy. That was my match. I was just wrestling and didn’t stop.

Torres said it was the first time placing at regionals for him. He sat out regionals last season due to a sickness and a “weight cutting problem.”

As a sophomore, Torres didn’t make it out of regionals. As a freshman, he also lost both of matches, saying he had “0-2 barbecue.”

“I had a really hard bracket and wrestled some really good kids,” Torres said of his showing last season. “I had a rough day, but now I’m turning it around. I’ve worked hard in the room. I have wrestled better and would like to keep getting better. I’m excited for next week.”

Marmion freshman Grayson Garcia defeated Downers Grove North’s Antonio Manzo for the third-place medal.

157 – Tony Shadid, Glenbard West

If a medal was handed out for the most energetic or enthusiastic regional champion, Glenbard West senior Tony Shadid would win the award. After pinning Marmion’s Christian Favia in the first period to win his first career regional championship, Shadid was a ball of energy following his victory.

He slapped hands with anyone in sight, hugged a few teammates and coaches and sported an ear-to-ear smile.

“Consistency was the key for me,” Shadid said. “Throughout the year, we’ve worked with our mental health and staying strong. I stayed consistent for my match and go a hundred percent. It’s amazing. It feels so great to drive through (my opponents). I’ve been working all year for this, so I’m not surprised.

“This feels great. I’m ready and going to go downstate. I’ve been building my consistency and stamina. I feel I did that today. I’m looking forward to harder competition next weekend.”

Shadid (23-11) said he’s motivated to make his first trip to state.

“It feels great, especially following my friend (Elliot),” Shadid said. “Everything played out perfect, just the way I planned. I’m building my consistency and for the third round getting better.”

Lyons junior Mickey Ahrens posted a 7-3 win over Downers Grove North’s Liam O’Sullivan for third place.

 165 – Gunnar Garelli, Lyons

Lyons senior Gunnar Garelli made a small but not impactful mistake on Saturday. Seconds after his triumphant 4-3 decision over Glenbard West’s Collin Carrigan in the 165-pound title match, Garelli darted toward the field house exit. One of the desk workers tried in vain to get Garelli to come to the scorer’s table.

Regardless, Garelli, a Virginia Tech recruit, made a big splash on the mat to improve to 42-1 on the season.

“After the match, I was excited,” Garelli said. “I lost to (Carrigan) two weeks ago, so it was all about that. I had to make a few adjustments, watching out for his lead attack and working on how to defend it. I was satisfied with my performance. I have to keep improving. This just sets me up. It’s a good confidence builder for next week. I have to keep improving. The next two weeks are critical.”

Garelli, who placed fourth at 160 last season to become Lyons’ first all-stater since 2017, said his mindset is different this season.

“I think I’m just going out there and am more relaxed and not in my own head as much,” he said. “I’m wrestling relaxed, cool, calm and collected and thinking about this is a sport. It’s supposed to be fun. I have college wrestling. I’m just having fun. This is my last year.”

Downers Grove South’s Jack Lasota finished his third-place match rather quickly, pinning Marmion’s Anthony Haddad in the first period.

175 – Sedeeq Al Obaidi, Wheaton Warrenville South

A powerful and quiet wrestler, Sedeeq Al Obaidi can be an imposing figure.

His potential is evident on the mat and he’s starting to showcase that potential late in the season.

On Saturday, after the host Hilltoppers claimed the previous two weight class titles, Al Obaidi notched the Tigers’ lone championship with a medical default win over Marmion’s Vincenzo Testa.

Even well after his victory, Al Obaidi (35-2) remained focused on his goals.

“I felt pretty good about the match, but he obviously got hurt,” Al Obaidi said. “This is my second time winning regionals, but this is not the main tournament. I’m trying to get ready for the state tournament. This is just one step to that.”

A one-time state qualifier in his junior season, Al Obaidi (35-2) said he’s moving in the right direction.

“From this weekend, I learned to moving my feet more and my hands more and more action,” he said. “I have to stick to my game plan, move my hands and feet and get to my leg attacks.”

On the third-place mat, Willowbrook senior Noah Brockie pinned Downers Grove North senior Ryder Nicholson.

190 – Ben Brown, Batavia

Batavia’s Ben Brown is having a memorable senior season.

During the football season, Brown was all over the field from his linebacker spot. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder was a key member of the defense, helping the Bulldogs reach the Class 8A state championship game. He racked up 115 tackles and earned the Defensive MVP in the DuKane Conference.

His wrestling season has been just as successful.

Brown dominated in the regular season, capturing titles at 2023 Russ Erb Invitational, the Red Schmitt Tournament and the Clint Arlis Invite on his home mat.

He added the 190-pound Glenbard West Regional title to his resume on Saturday. And wrestling is not even Brown’s best sport.  Brown (29-0) remained undefeated on the season, closing out his bracket with an impressive 2-1 victory over Glenbard West’s Sasha Boulton.

“I want to keep this momentum rolling into next week,” Brown said. “I’ve put in a lot of work. (Sasha) was a good wrestler. He was a strong kid. It was a burner. I knew it was going to be a good match. This is a good feeling coming here and getting a win.”

Brown said he’s focused on enjoying his final wrestling season, not burdened my expectations or pressures that might weigh him down.

“I’ve never even qualified for state,” Brown said. “I’ve put in a lot of work, as a dual-sport athlete. That’s always a cool thing coming off the transition from football. It feels great to get after it. This is it for me. I’ve been wrestling about 10 years. It’s a weird feeling because I’m always looking to the offseason. I’m just excited for these final moments with my teammates. I just have to go, and can’t be scared. I have to be fierce in everything I do.”

A few feet away, on the third-place mat, Glenbard East’s Blake Salvino notched a major decision victory over Downers Grove North’s Jaden Lewis.

215 – Joseph Favia, Marmion

Marmion sophomore Joseph Favia is rapidly becoming a wrestler to watch in Chicagoland – and the state.

He earned a regional title by pinning Batavia’s Asher Sheldon in the second period. Also a football player, the hulking Favia (31-6) said he’s been wrestling for 11 years.

“The key to me (today) was my strength and agility,” Favia said. “I’m quick and can still move. In finals, I knew I would dominate that match going in. My team was on my side. Last year I made it to sectionals, but my first match I sprained my ankle and was out and had to wrestle fresh/soph at 190. I knew I should’ve been on the (varsity) podium at state last year. This is my time to get it back.”

Glenbard East Gus Winkler won the third-place match by pinning Wheaton Warrenville South’s Mason Monce.

285 – Mateusz Nycz, Marmion

Marmion junior Mateusz Nycz is easy to find at a wrestling venue.

At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Nycz is often the tallest and biggest wrestler at most meets.

Now, he’s also among the best wrestlers at most meets.

He provided an example of his talent on Saturday, closing out the regional by pinning Lyons senior Sam Costello in the second period in the 285-pound title match.

Nycz (25-18) ended a highly productive day for the Cadets with a strong effort.

“I’ve been working on my offense a lot, trying to develop more throws and upper body stuff,” Nycz said. “I was scared of that at the beginning of the season, so that really helped me today.”

Since picking up the sport at “10 or 11 years old”, Nycz admitted he’s progressing at a good rate in wrestling.

“Football is my main sport,” he said. “But I think this is a good confidence builder, get some good matches to go into sectionals.”

Class 3A Glenbard West Regional championship match results

106 – Logan Conover (Marmion) F 3:15 Waleed Binmahfooz (Glenbard East)

113 – Nicholas Garcia (Marmion) TF-1.5 3:35 (25-10) Tyler Tiancgo (Downers Grove North)

120 – Ino Garcia (Batavia) 3-0 D Griff Powell (Lyons)

126 – Donny Pigoni (Marmion) TF-1.5 4:15 (18-2) Alejandro Aranda (Glenbard West)

132 – Jack Duraski (Batavia) 1-0 D Ulises Rosas (Glenbard West)

138 – Zach Stewart (Marmion) TF-1.5 5:29 (20-5) Caden Chiarelli (Downers Grove North)

144 – Aidan Huck (Batavia) 6-4 D Ashton Hobson (Marmion)

150 – Elliot Torries (Glenbard West) F 2:53 Dylan Wells (Batavia)

157 – Tony Shadid (Glenbard West) F 1:18 Christian Favia (Marmion)

165 – Gunnar Garelli (Lyons) 4-3 D Collin Carrigan (Glenbard West)

175 – Sedeeq Al Obaidi (Wheaton Warrenville South) MF  Vincenzo Testa (Marmion)

190 – Ben Brown (Batavia) 2-1 D Sasha Boulton (Glenbard West)

215 – Joseph Favia (Marmion)  F 2:36 Asher Sheldon (Batavia)

285 – Mateusz Nycz (Marmion) F 3:40 Sam Costello (Lyons)

3rd-place matches (top three wrestlers in each weight advance to the individual sectional)

106 – Aidan Ortega (Glenbard W) F 1:34 Logan Luftus (DG North)

113 – Miteku Branch (Willowbrook) TF 5:59 Lorenz Rios Loud (Glenbard E)

120 – Carson Prunty (Glenbard W) D 7-0 Adam Kopcio (Marmion)

126 – Ismael Chaidez (Glenbard E) MD 12-0 Kyle Pasco (Batavia)

132 – Jack Kutchek (Lyons) D 9-5 Aidan Cummings (DG North)

138 – Brennan Myra (Glenbard W) F 3:02 Cooper Hollis (WW South)

144 – Owen Kelly (DG North) D 5-1 Brandon Watson (Glenbard W)

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