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Marmion’s Nicholas Garcia wraps up state title


CHAMPAIGN — As she continues to move forward, Marmion sophomore Nicholas Garcia He decided that his past could help him in the present. Especially if that gift was opened at the state convention.

In December, Garcia lost to St. Louis with a pair of tough decisions at 113 pounds. Charles East lost to the sophomore. Dom Munaretto. It forced a new way of thinking for the competitive Cadet.

“I took everything in the first two games,” Garcia said Saturday night at State Farm Center. “Honestly, every single position, every single place I wrestle.

“We studied the last month and a half and knew every position he would work in.”

Garcia did that job well, engineering two key comebacks for the 4-2 decision against Munaretto in the Class 3A individual state finals at the University of Illinois.

Nicholas Garcia (45-7) became the first Illinois wrestler to defeat Munaretto (47-3), the state champion at 106.

Garcia executed two comebacks at the end of the first and second periods that nullified Munaretto’s first-period takedown.

“He’s a one-sided wrestler and he’s very good at what he does,” Garcia said of Munaretto. “We worked hard to eliminate that side.”

St. Charles East’s Dom Munaretto (left) and Marmion’s Nicholas Garcia compete at 113 pounds in the Class 3A state championship match on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at the State Farm Center in Champaign. (Vincent D. Johnson / The Beacon-News)

Garcia’s older brother, JamesonThe freshman wrestler at Harvard was his biggest supporter.

Nicholas now stands alongside his brother as state champion. Jameson, a two-time state champion, played in St. He encountered Charles East. Okay DavinoHe is a four-time state champion who won the 126-pound state title last season.

Davino defeated Jameson in overtime. The Saints also topped the Cadets in the dual team championship.

The classic face-off between young Garcia and standout Munaretto added another gripping perspective to the intense rivalry between the powerhouse programs.

“My brother is a huge motivator for me,” Nicholas said. “I love him with all my heart. Actually, there was nothing he had to say. “He knew all the work I was doing and I was really prepared.”

Marmion showcased top-tier talent despite losing two elite transfers and a knee injury that prevented the recruitment of top players from Northwestern Jack Lesher from defending the 182-pound state title.

Stars, St. St. Charles East advanced three sophomores to the finals, matching Mount Carmel and Marist’s individual totals.

Marmion's Zach Stewart tries to control Lockport's Justin Wardlow during their 138-pound bout at the Class 3A state wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at the University of Illinois State Farm Center in Champaign.  (Vincent D. Johnson / Daily Southtown) .
Marmion’s Zach Stewart, back, tries to get the better of Lockport’s Justin Wardlow at 138 pounds in the championship match of the Class 3A state meet on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at the State Farm Center in Champaign. (Vincent D. Johnson) / Beacon-News)

sophomore Zach Stewart Used a late takedown to earn a 6-3 decision on Lockport’s case Justin Wardlow In the 138-pound championship match.

sophomore Joey Favia He lost 3-1 in overtime to Loyola’s Kai Calcutt in the 215-pound championship. Ashton Hobson (39-11), and the sophomore finished sixth at 144.

“We have a great bond,” Stewart said of the Cadets.

Stewart (30-8) stepped away from competition in January to rejuvenate her body while dealing with the emotional demands of the sport.

“I needed some time away because I wasn’t mentally well,” he said. “Everyone on the team supported me. They love me and I love them.”

St. After defeating Charles East Tyler Guerra Stewart took advantage due to injury in Friday’s quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Favia (37-7) won three one-point decisions to advance to the final.

Marmion's Nicholas Garcia beats St. Louis in the 113-pound match at the class 3 Astate wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at the University of Illinois State Farm Center in Champaign.  He defeated Charles East's Dom Munaretto.  (Vincent D. Johnson / Daily Southtown) ).
Marmion’s Nicholas Garcia beats St. Louis in the championship game of the Class 3A state meet on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, at the State Farm Center in Champaign. He takes control at 113 pounds against Charles East’s Dom Munaretto. (Vincent D. Johnson / Beacon News)

“I was in the sauna watching the results on the leaderboard,” Garcia said. “As soon as Joey won his semifinal, I texted him and said we were going to have a dynasty.”

Garcia switched between 113 and 120 in the first two months of the season.

The only loss was to a Maine South senior Teddy Flores (48-1), the 120-pound state champion, at a tournament in Batavia last month. Arguably, the safer way was to stay at this weight.

He didn’t want the perception that he was avoiding Munaretto without saying much.

“People said I could win state at 120 pounds, so cutting weight and dropping out was definitely a sacrifice,” Garcia said. “It was a big decision to make, but it was personal for me.

“Like I was supposed to do this thing.”

Patrick Z. McGavin is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.


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