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Narel: bring back Garrett Goebel

By Mike Garofola

Chris Narel, a target of every heavyweight in Class 3A this winter, would like to have 2008's top dog, superstar and state champion Garrett Goebel of Montini, back for another go around.


The Lincoln-Way East senior, who entered this season as the No. 1 rated 285-pounder, doesn't mind admitting that Goebel, who squashed the competition last season-long, and who would be immediately be placed at No. 1 and No. 1A atop the charts, would be a welcome addition to the ranks in his weight class.

"You always want to compete against and have the best around, and a guy like Goebel would bring the best out of everyone," said a straight-faced Narel.

The Lincoln-Way East heavy needed four matches to win his second-straight individual title at the 18th Moore-Prettyman Invitational Saturday night, but his eventual acceptance of his hardware didn't come without a little more anxiety than both he and coach Tyrone Byrd would have liked.

Narel was pushed to the limit in the semifinals by upstart Mike Eisele of Hoffman Estates. The No. 5 seed took a 6-4 lead into the third period before a burst by Narel put him ahead for good at 7-6.

Two more all-important points later were enough to hold off a hopeful Eisele who would uncoil a reversal in the closing moments to make it a 9-8 final.

"Chris is a great wrestler and competitor, and a terrific sportsman, which he showed after the match," began Eisele, who finished fourth overall. "But I just couldn't hold (him) off when I got the lead. It was that simple."

Narel was just as complementary of Eisele.

"I made some bad moves, and (Eisele) took advantage of them really well," said Narel, who recently finished his football season for the Griffins. He held a starting spot at defensive tackle. "When that happened I kind of freaked and got away from what I wanted to do. I guess I have to just shake some of the rust off of my game."

Coach Bryd made notes to help rectify the situation.

"Chris got out of his comfort zone and got rattled, and all of a sudden was fighting for his life," admitted Byrd.

Narel says that what got him into trouble at the state tournament in his semifinal bout with Kevin Galeher of St. Rita last season.

"I got a little timid, set-up some shots, but didn't shoot, and I fell short (6-4) and wound up in the third-place match with Brian Lawson (Rich East)," he said.

Narel ended his season on a high note with a 6-3 decision and finished things up at 41-3.

The soft-spoken big man isn't bothered by his No. 1 pre-season ranking, and says it really doesn't mean anything in what will become a long season of wrestling filled with ebbs and flows. Byrd agrees.

"Chris knows being No. 1 only helps him in his chase to be No. 1 in Champaign in February," Byrd said. "He isn't going to wrestle (trying) to protect that top spot in the polls. He has a good head on his shoulders and is a great kid, and someone who a coach loves to coach and be a part of his success."

Byrd likes the way his top man goes at his hand-to-hand fighting, and how much improvement he's made in his position on the mat, something that sets him apart from others in this weight class.

Narel, who as a sophomore qualified to the state tournament at 215, would record tournament titles at Stagg, Batavia and at the SW Suburban Conference tourney, before the excitement wore off one week later and he finished third at the Andrew
regional behind Matt Kulbida (Sandburg) and Mike Marquez (Lincoln-Way Central).

Rebounding in spectacular fashion, Narel grabbed the sectional title at Shepard and its automatic first-round bye in Champaign to set-up his run to a medal.

"You learn after a year like last (year) that the wrestling season is a long run, and that a win at the Barrington tournament, while it is satisfying, is not the end all to your season. It's just kind of one week at a time," Narel said.


Today's Schedule: Season Schedule