By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Not too long ago, the classy duo of James Valentino and Jake Wolf could be counted on for 30-plus victories, plenty of championship trophies and multiple trips downstate, making the St. Viator stars the envy of East Suburban Catholic Conference wrestling coaches.
Lions coach Jason Churak believes he has a triple threat of young men that may rival Valentino and Wolf, so it only figured that Gaetano Console, Nick DeMunno and Ryan McGuire led the Lions to two easy victories Wednesday night at Fr. Cahill Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.
“We’re so young all throughout our lineup so to have those three guys leading the way gives a lot of hope to our season,” said Churak, whose club goes to 9-6-0 on the season following its wins over North Chicago (39-6) and Ridgewood (54-6).
“Nick is just a consummate leader, he mixes fun with serious, and he works so hard. Gaetano has picked up from having an amazing offseason while Ryan, back healthy once again, is ready to enjoy a terrific senior year,” continued Churak.
Console and DeMunno, who recently lifted championship trophies at the Fenton Invite, would both compete in nationals during the offseason in Iowa.
“I was real happy with my eighth place finish at nationals,” said DeMunno, who would compete at 220 pounds in the summer but will land at his true weight of 182 soon.
DeMunno, who won 19 a year ago, wrestled through a serious arm injury at regionals last season, but it caught up with the Lions’ veteran in his state qualifying bout.
Console lost his sectional qualifying match also but the defeat, coupled with some superb results at Fargo in Freestyle and Greco, has provided the junior with all the motivation needed to make this season his best.
“My mental game is so much stronger than a year ago. I found out at nationals that I could compete with all types of styles and levels of talent from all around the country, so now I know I can compete with the best around,” said Console, who won 21 last year.
The Lions’ five pins to overwhelmed North Chicago in their opener, then they had another five in the win against Ridgewood.
McGuire collected two falls on the night, his first coming when he bumped up from 220 to take on North Chicago’s big man Zykez Johnson.
“Ryan just gets better each year, and if not for an injury-filled junior year last season, he likely would have made it downstate,” said Churak of his three-year starter.
St. Viator will travel to Niles West this Saturday to compete in this 24-team invite.