The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

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Athlete of the Issue: Gunnar Garelli

What does it take to become a NCAA Division I wrestler? 

Start at the age of 3, practice and compete five to seven days every single week; compete against the best; travel for national tournaments, and most importantly, win. These steps are exactly what Gunnar Garelli ‘24 has followed.

Garelli’s first taste of wrestling came when he was 3 years old, when his father started him in the sport. 

“My dad got me and my brother into it very young,” Garelli said. “I’ve loved wrestling ever since. I played baseball as well when I was younger, but I switched to wrestling full time around seventh grade.“

Wrestling is something that runs in Garelli’s family. His dad wrestled for Willowbrook High School, his uncles wrestled, his older brother wrestled for LT, and his cousin was a two-time state champion for Fenwick and later went on to wrestle at Stanford University.

“Seeing [my cousin] win two state titles made him my biggest inspiration,” Garelli said. “I was 10 years old when I started going to watch his matches. Watching him win is what made me set a goal to go and win a state title. ”

Garelli started his high school career at Montini Catholic, and after his freshman year he transferred to LT competing on varsity for three years. Garelli started in the 126-pound weight class before moving to the 160-pound class his junior year and finally the 165-pound class his senior year. 

Garelli wrestles year-round against other wrestlers in the area and also in national tournaments. In these tournaments and matches, he competes against some of the best wrestlers in the country. 

“He does everything you need to do to be a champ,” coach Griff Powell said. “One of the reasons why he is having so much success is because he puts a ton of time and effort into [wrestling]. He wrestles and trains year round, travels the country to find the best competition, and practices six to seven days a week. He does everything right.”

Garelli placed fourth at state in the 160-pound class last year and hopes to continue his success by winning the state title this year. Aside from his drive for a state championship, there are parts of LT wrestling that he will miss.

“I really love the coaches here,” Garelli said. “Being able to wrestle with people who I’ve known for such a long time is something I’ll miss. I think the bond we have as a team is something that you can’t recreate after high school.”

Next year Garelli will wrestle for Virginia Tech, which didn’t surprise Powell.

“I knew he had the potential,” Powell said. “His skill is through the roof.  He’s extremely good on his feet, he can get to the legs better than anyone I’ve coached in the 22 years I’ve been doing this. He finds a way to get his hands locked on the legs and usually if he can get his hands locked he’s going to finish. He stays in a great position, he’s super aggressive, he can attack both sides of the body, he’s got the full game.”

This year the Virginia Tech wrestling team has been able to remain throughout the year in the top 20 in the NWCA wrestling rankings. Garelli committed to the school  as soon as he was offered a place on their team. He had been talking to a few other schools but Virginia Tech was the first school to give him an offer.

“I really wanted to go to [there],” Garelli said. “I really loved the campus when I visited, they have a great coaching staff and great facilities. They are a team on the up and coming, and are slowly becoming a top five team. So there was really no reason for me to say no.”

The IHSA Individual Finals take place Friday Feb. 16, while the IHSA Team Duels take place Tuesday Feb. 20, Friday Feb. 23, and Saturday Feb. 24.


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George Ross
George Ross, Sports Editor
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