Lightweight wrestler Domenic Munaretto of Barrington has heavy impact on national scene
The big trophies drew in the extra small 5-year-old.
That, and Domenic Munaretto's extra big sense of competitiveness.
Barely old enough to be in kindergarten, Munaretto somehow really connected with wrestling, even when things weren't going so well.
"I remember when I first started wrestling, I was getting my butt kicked," Munaretto said. "I was really small and I was wrestling kids who were bigger than me and I didn't know what I was doing.
"But I had fun the whole time. And I'm a really competitive kid. I saw all those big trophies at my gym. I really wanted to win some of those."
Eventually, Munaretto's skills caught up to his enthusiasm.
At age 8, he won his first state title, in the 46-pound weight class.
And now, nine years after getting started, the 14-year-old Munaretto from Barrington is one of the best youth wrestlers in the country.
Munaretto will be getting a major trophy in the mail soon for his latest achievement. In June, he completed the Triple Crown as part of a series of national competitions held through USA Wrestling.
Competing in the 88-pound weight class, the 4-foot-10 Munaretto won the USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals in Iowa back in April. In June, in the Wisconsin Dells, he won the second and third legs of the Triple Crown series by taking the championships at the Freestyle Nationals and the Greco-Roman Nationals.
Munaretto, who has been ranked No. 1 in his age division since November of 2020 by MatScouts, is one of only six youth competitors in the country, across multiple weight classes and age divisions, to win the Triple Crown in 2021.
Four of those Triple Crown winners happen to train alongside Munaretto at Toss Em Up Academy in Waukegan, including his sparing partner Aaron Stewart, who is in the 120-pound weight class.
"This is pretty cool and I was very excited (to win at the Wisconsin Dells) because I've never won the Triple Crown before," Munaretto said. "I got to go to a steakhouse in Chicago to celebrate and I love steak. I also get a big trophy and a big bracket board in the mail. It's cool."
Munaretto is counting on plenty more trips to the steakhouse in his future.
His goals are substantial.
He wants to be a four-time high school state champion. And a four-time NCAA champion. And a world champion. And an Olympic champion.
"I thank God for all of this because I feel super blessed to have been given the gifts and talent I have," Munaretto said. "But if I want to reach all of my goals, it's going to take a lot of hard work and discipline and I'm going to have to make sacrifices.
"I like that. I like it that it's on me if I win and it's on me if I lose."
Munaretto doesn't lose much.
His career record is 52-1. And he's wrestled all over the country, and the world, including most recently in Serbia, Finland and Estonia.
He's traveled about 30,000 miles this year alone.
Meanwhile, he already has major Division I wresting programs after him, including Purdue, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"I got into wrestling just because I was small and my parents (Bob and Kelly) thought it would be good for self-defense," Munaretto said. "But I just really liked it and I started practicing it more, and it was a lot of dedication.
"I have liked the challenge and I have a lot more I want to do."