CHICAGO | Mount Carmel's 126-pound wrestler Rodrigo Garay just wanted to earn some points for his team.
Entering the finals of Saturday's Chicago Catholic League Championships at Brother Rice, the Caravan trailed St. Rita 209-200. Mount Carmel had seven wrestlers in championship bouts and won all seven matches to capture its third straight Catholic League title with 246 points. The Mustangs were second with 223.
What made Garay's win so special was that he is the first in his family to win a Catholic League title in three tries.
His father, Bob, and his uncle, Rodrigo, wrestled for St. Francis de Sales. Bob was second at 132 in 1982 and Rod was second at 126 in 1984. Bob is now an assistant with the Caravan.
"This meant a lot to my family, especially my dad," the younger Garay said. "I was just trying to get points for us because we needed them.
"For my dad to present me (with the plaque), that is also special for me and I know he and my mom (Sonia) were happy."
Proud is more like it as his dad was emotional when talking about his son.
"For (Mount Carmel coach) John Kading to let me present my son, man that is just great. I cannot describe it," Bob Garay said. "He was second last year and this being his senior year, this was his last chance. He wrestled a good match."
Garay beat St. Rita's Mike Falco 11-9. Garay said he knew it would be a tough match, because in a December bout, Falco won, coming within a point of beating Garay by technical fall.
"I was a little more aggressive today and got the upper hand," Garay said. "I learned and studied from the last time I wrestled him. He is a tough kid, so I also had to wrestle smart."
The Caravan's David Denne won his third Catholic League title by beating Providence's Vince Ambrose 3-1. He lost last year in overtime to Bishop MacNamara's Channing Dollinger.
"I wasn't thinking about that too much, just concentrating on winning," Denne said. "Coach (Kading) gave us the greatest pep talk I ever heard: 'Go win.'"
The wisdom came before the finals, and the Caravan did that. Denne won the Lawless Award, while teammate Bryce Brill (145) pinned his way thorough the tournament, taking 22 seconds to capture the title match. Brill was named the tourney's most outstanding wrestler.
"Coach said get the win, the go for a major (decision), then a tech, then a fall," Brill said. "They key for us was to get extra points because we were down coming into the finals."
Denne also said that Kading told the team if it won the Catholic League title and the regional team title, he would wrestle and win in the Midlands in December.
"Win?" said Kading, who earned the coach's Lawless Award. "I guess if David said win then I said win, but I did say I would enter it."
Other winners for the Caravan were: freshman Jake Tucker (120); Notay Jackson (152); Jack Hightower (170); and Jimmy Mickens (182).
St. Franics de sales' Abe Olaniyan was fourth at 220.