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Stanford wrestling program
has strong Chicago ties

By Kevin McGavin
 

 

The Stanford wrestling program boasts athletes from 15 different states on its current roster and ranks as a marquee attraction of the Pacific-12 Conference.

Sunday afternoon in Evanston, two Chicagoland products returned home for a late-season dual match against Northwestern.

Elmhurst native Matt Garelli, a 2012 graduate of Fenwick High School in Oak Park, and fellow redshirt freshman Josh Marchok, a former state champion for Schaumburg High School, met similar fates during the Wildcats’ come-from-behind 20-19 victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Pat Greco put Northwestern on the board with his major-decision victory over Garelli at 141 pounds, and Marchok was on the losing end of a heavyweight match against top-ranked Northwestern junior Mike McCullan.

“(Greco) beat me fair and square today,” said Garelli, who has been hampered by injuries during his winless season. “I have to get myself together for the Pac-12 (tournament) in two weeks. I have had a couple of injuries, though not to use that as an excuse.”

Marchok was the top-rated 220-pound prep wrestler in the nation for two years and was a two-time state champ after a third-place finish as a sophomore.

He had no illusions facing off against McCullan, the reigning national runner-up, as the Cardinal clung to a two-point lead heading into the deciding match at 285 pounds.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match,” said Marchok, who failed to score any offensive points in a 6-3 loss. “I tried to wrestle my match. Obviously, it didn’t work out.”

In addition to the two Illinois-born starters thrown into the mix against Northwestern, the Stanford roster also features Tommy Pawelski and Winnebago graduate Michael Sojka.

“They’re getting more (Illinois recruits),” Northwestern coach Drew Pariano said of Stanford which has expanded its recruiting base throughout the Midwest. “(For coveted wrestlers who excel in the classroom as well) Northwestern, Stanford, Harvard and Michigan are the top four schools.”

Pawelski, part of four team dual state champions at Montini High School in Lombard, made the trip but did not participate. His 125-pound teammate Evan Silver had a first-period fall to give the Cardinal a 6-0 lead out of the gate.

Sojka, a 184-pound sophomore, did not make the travel team for Stanford.

“It was a little disappointing (not to compete),” said Pawelski, a Park Ridge native. “(College) is a different style of wrestling (than high school). The kids are a lot tougher.”

Stanford coach Tom Brands did not need an intelligence report on where to find the top prep wrestlers in the nation.

“I’m from the Midwest (Michigan),” Brands said. “(Chicago) is a big area, a big city, a sprawling city. They have a lot of great high school programs in the area.”

Garelli is not about to make any excuses for his collegiate choice.

“I wouldn’t trade my experiences at Stanford for anything,” he said.

Marchok, an undersized heavyweight at 236 pounds, looks to use his unconventional frame as a building block.
“I am pretty small (for a heavyweight),” Marchok said. “I try to rely on my speed and quickness to score quick points.

“There’s tons of differences between high school and collegiate wrestling. In high school you can make up points a lot quicker than in college.”

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