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Ask just about any high school athlete about his goals, and he will invariably say “To win state…” What is it about the quest for a state championship that drives an athlete to compete at the highest level he can reach? Isn’t “top ten” a great finish? Scholarships are offered when you’re in the top ten in the state. Medals are handed out through tenth place. For David Riojas and Eric Correa, top ten just isn’t good enough. Click here to read more…
The Mount Carmel Wrestling Program underwent an unexpected change this season. Beloved and acclaimed Head Coach John Kading left to pursue another coaching opportunity. His departure left a huge void that worried Athletic Director Dan La Count, but his anxiety quickly dissipated with the hiring of Alex Tsirtsis as the new MC Wrestling Head Coach. An outstanding undefeated high school wrestler from Indiana, Tsirtsis spent his collegiate career at Iowa, and was named an All-American. Coach Tsirtsis inherited a talented group of wrestlers who were poised to do well throughout the season. Senior David Riojas is one of those wrestlers.

David had one last season to make some noise. His regular season record was outstanding by any measure, but he recognized he had some bumps in the road as he approached the state tournament. He was wrestling well, and felt he was ready to take on a challenge that had been many years in the making. On the other side of the Class 3A 170-lb. bracket was David’s longtime friend and Romeoville Spartan wrestling teammate, Johnny Mologousis from Lyons Township High School. Mologousis had the senior season wrestlers dream about: undefeated going into the state championship match. David was the only wrestler who stood in the way of a perfect finish to the perfect season.

But it was not in the cards for Mologousis. In a 9 – 4 upset, Riojas claimed the state title for 170 pounds. He told the Daily Southtown “I had some off matches this season, but none of that matters now. I just really wanted to have fun. I knew it was my last match, and I wanted to go out and give it my all.” The dream of a state championship was realized in dramatic fashion. 

The Mount Carmel Diving Program is a one-man show. Eric Correa has been shattering pool records and making a name for himself in state competition for three years now. How does this happen when your school pool doesn’t even have a diving board? If you look up the adjective “determined” in the dictionary, you would find Eric’s picture. Couple a highly motivated, extremely talented diver with an aquatics coach who isn’t afraid to take on a challenge, and you’ve got a diving team making school history. Tina Grunauer, Mount Carmel’s Head Swimming Coach, figured out a way for Eric to use other venues to practice his dives. It meant she had to put in extra time shuttling him back and forth to different pools, but she didn’t mind. She knew that in order to reach his full potential, Eric had to be challenged, and needed a coach who could give him her all. Their hard work and commitment was evident by the growth and maturity Eric showed this season. In an interview with the Beverly Review, Eric said, “I feel the pressure a little bit, so I try and focus on myself and how I am doing. I’m focusing on personal development, physically and mentally as a diver. I try to have a positive attitude.”

Correa’s success brought him to the state meet with high hopes. Having finished 27th as a freshman, and jumping to 6th as a sophomore, Eric knew the state title was within his grasp. His 4th place start in the state tournament was indicative of how highly competitive the field was. In two days of intense action, Eric was able to improve his position to 2nd. A runner up finish sets the table for a stellar senior year for Eric, who is getting looks from college diving programs from all over the country. The dream is still alive, and has yet to be realized…


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