Wrestling: St. Charles East crowns six champs in 'statement' regional championship
Dom Munaretto and Austin Barrett are the ultimate bookend athletes.
St. Charles East has few peers on the Class 3A wrestling landscape as a result.
Saturday at the Class 3A Geneva regional, Munaretto and Barrett opened and closed the festivities with first-period falls in their championship matches at 106 and 285 pounds to accentuate a dominant Saints' victory over perennial powers Glenbard North and DeKalb.
The second-ranked Saints crowned six other champions in their statement-making 274.5-174.5 triumph over fellow DuKane Conference member Glenbard North.
Fifth-ranked DeKalb, the reigning state runner-up, was third with 175.
Before entering high school, Munaretto, who extended his season-long winning streak to 43 matches, won an age-group world championship.
Not much has changed since his epic win in Rome last summer.
"In state, no one has lasted six minutes with me," Munaretto said. "I have been able to dominate. You have to be mentally prepared to go to battle every time. I focus on trying to score the next point."
"It's nice to go in (to a major tournament) when you can get (team) bonus points right out of the gate," St. Charles East coach Jason Potter said of having Munaretto lead off the Saints' potent lineup. "It doesn't matter that he's a freshman. The physicality aspect is there."
With the regional championship, the Saints advanced to meet Niles West victor Maine South at the DeKalb dual-meet sectional following the individual state tournament in Champaign later this month.
"I am looking to grab a state title and it is close to my grasp" said Barrett, the Saints' victorious heavyweight who will play Big Ten football for Indiana in the fall. "I love football but also love the sport of wrestling. (A state championship) is definitely achievable."
Ben Davino has ascended to the highest levels in the sport as well.
The Saints' junior captured an unofficial state title during the pandemic two years ago before adding a second unblemished run against in-state competitors en route to the 120-pound championship last February.
Davino improved his career record to 116-1 with his 73rd consecutive win, a second-period technical fall at 126 pounds in the championship match.
Like Munaretto, Davino is 43-0 entering the Conant sectional on Saturday.
"I just kind of go out and do what I do," Davino said. "I am trying to get technical falls. "If I go out and wrestle well, that's something I am able to do."
Jayden Colon, a Class 2A state champion for storied Montini last season, is looking to add a 3A crown at the same weight.
The Saints' junior subdued DeKalb senior Austin Martin with a major decision.
St. Charles East had 12 total qualifiers to lead all programs as AJ Marino also had a championship fall to secure the 120-pound title.
Tyler Guerrera continued the theme for the Saints by terminating his 138-pound title match in the second period.
Anthony Gutierrez ensured a championship run for every St. Charles East academic class as the sophomore 160-pounder stopped the clock once again with 66 seconds remaining in the second period.
The Saints' eighth and final title -- by Brody Murray at 182 -- was almost pedestrian by comparison as the junior improved to 30-4 with his 12-3 win over Wheaton North senior Eli Cook.
In a rematch of the DuKane Conference finals, St. Charles North senior Drew Surges bested his 195-pound counterpart John Schmidt from host Geneva to remain undefeated at 6-0.
Surges, an Iowa State football recruit, rejoined the North Stars on the cusp of the conference tournament.
"I wasn't sure about (coming out)," Surges said after his 10-6 win over Schmidt. "Some people (in a similar situation) said they regretted (not competing) later in life. I didn't want any regrets."
Surges was the sole sectional qualifier for seventh-place St. Charles North.
Schmidt was one of three Geneva athletes to make the sectional field.
"I think I am gaining ground on (Surges)," Schmidt said. "Hopefully I can beat him at the sectional."
Tom Chernich questioned the assignments.
"Was it an equitable regional?" the veteran Geneva coach rhetorically asked. "Absolutely not. I'm not making any excuses. To have St. Charles East and DeKalb in the same regional is nonsense. None of these schools (St. Charles East and No. 11 Glenbard North) are close to each other (geographically). They are the three best programs in the sectional. By far."