ST. CHARLES – It’s difficult to look around the St. Charles East wrestling room and not find motivation and dedication.
With eight returning state qualifiers and three state champions – including No. 4 pound-for-pound prospect in the country and three-time state champion Ben Davino – the Saints are primed for another decorated season considering the team talent in the room.
The Saints are doing that thus far. St. Charles East swept all team duals at its own Mega Duel tournament on Saturday with a 73-6 win over Oswego, 46-21 over Libertyville and 42-21 over Hononegah.
Last season’s Class 3A 106-pound IHSA state champion, Dom Munaretto, is certainly among the headliners. Others include 145-pound two-time state champion, Jayden Colon; 138-pound state finalist Tyler Guerra; 165-pound sixth-place state finisher Anthony Gutierrez and 182-pound sixth-place state finisher Brody Murray.
Everyone just needs to keep raising the bar.
“Ben is big for me because he’s above where I am right now,” Munaretto said. “He’s where I want to be: Committed Big 10 at a really good school [Ohio State]. I see what he’s doing because I know what I have to do to get to where he is. I want to be my own thing. I see what I have to do to get to the level.”
After ripping through last year’s high school season at 50-0, Munaretto has now bumped up to 113-pounds and is 6-0 on the young season. The level of excellence hasn’t changed.
“It’s nothing different. Just keep going and try to keep getting better and keep the pace high,” Munaretto said.
A loss at the U-17 freestyle World Team Trials last April in the semifinals was instant fuel for grinding for the high school season. Munaretto, last year’s world champion, missed the cut to compete with the team in Istanbul, Turkey this past summer.
“Every time I take a loss, yeah, it hurts. There was maybe a day period [to reflect],” Munaretto said. “Obviously, if I have to keep wrestling, I’m going to keep my mindset to keep wrestling. But, in my head, deep down, it hurts. Only for a couple days and I get back and I look at what I did wrong and I fix it.”
“I always grow from my losses because of it. I always take what I did wrong, bring it to the practice room and I fix it so I don’t do it wrong anymore,” Munaretto said.
Colin O’Grady, Oswego growing in young season
Oswego went 0-3 as a team in duals on Saturday but are grinding forward.
“We [were] competing against some high-level teams,” Oswego coach Andrew Cook said. We were excited to go in and compete. We got in some good spots and we got a lot of learning to do. So, we’ve got a mix between experienced dudes and some dudes who are new that are getting used to varsity. Heck, even new to the sport itself.”
“They’re competing. That’s what we asked for. Compete, work for every point, don’t give up points easy and that’s what we’ve been working with,” Cook continued.
Senior Colin O’Grady went 2-1 in his matches at 157 pounds with pins over Libertyville’s James Scanio and Naperville Central’s Christopher Bern. The one loss came against SCE’s Gavin Connolly in a major decision.
Having two brothers, Nolan and Kevin, in the program alongside him is certainly unique.
“It’s really cool with wrestling both of them in the room. I mean, very few people have two other siblings with them wrestling. We’re all on varsity all three of us, so it’s motivating wrestling with each of them and getting better with them.”
Colin O’Grady is planning on bouncing back after a regional third-place loss last year, missing out on advancing. His sights are back set on Champaign.
“I was [ticked off] when I lost the regionals match last year,” O’Grady said. “That definitely lit a fire under my belly. My Dad and I talked, we thought I should sign up for Spar Academy in Aurora and that helped me out a lot and I’m seeing big improvements this year.”