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Lesson learned in regionals helps LWE's Narel maintain focus

 

By Curt Herron

Chris Narel realizes that you can't take anything for granted in the sport of wrestling.

The Lincoln-Way East senior found that out again a year ago when he had to win a third-place match in the regional at 285 just to qualify for the sectional.

But Narel justified his high ranking during the season by not only capturing a sectional title but then advancing to the semifinals and taking third place at state.

So despite turning in his program's second-best finish ever, Narel knows that he has a lot of work to do if he wants to capture a championship this year. 

"My goal this year is to make it downstate and hopefully go to the state finals," said Narel, who was 41-3 a year ago.

"But I know that anything can happen throughout the year. I realized that last year at the regionals when I took third place."

Only one Griffin wrestler, Tony Pretto, who was an unbeaten state champion at 112 in 2003, has advanced to the Grand March.

"A lot of people have the chance to win state, but like everyone else, I just hope to get there and have a chance to finish as the top dog," Narel said.

"As long as I can wrestle to my potential and finish strong and do as well as I did last year, if not better, then I definitely feel I can make it to the finals."

His first visit to the awards stand at the high school level a year ago has provided plenty of incentive to get back there this season.

And the presence of a new coach on the bench for the Griffins, University of Illinois standout Tyrone Byrd, only figures to make Narel better.

"He's going to work me a lot harder than I've been worked before and it will push me ten-times more to win," said Narel of Byrd.

"Placing third last year is making me hungrier for this season. It's going to motivate me to work harder, especially with our new coach."

But Narel realizes that he's not the only one who will benefit from having an individual with credentials like Byrd to be directing the program.

"I'm ecstatic to be able to work with a four-time national qualifier," Narel said. "It's going to be great to be able to wrestle him and have him show me moves.

"I think this is going to make our team as a whole a lot better. We need just that little extra push, and we definitely have that with our new coach."

Beside being a talented wrestler, Narel has also been a top performer on the defensive line for the Griffins' successful football team.

But as he begins to plan for his future, the heavyweight currently thinks he'll be a collegiate wrestler.

"Right now I'm leaning a lot more toward wrestling than playing football in college," Narel said. "I love football, but not not as much as I do wrestling."


 

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