HS teammates Stewart and Noble prep for Fargo after winning Illinois Triple Crowns

Updated: June 13, 2024

Photos: Aaron Stewart (left) and Caleb Noble both won titles in Fargo last summer before capturing Illinois state championships for Warren Township High this past winter. (T.C. Lifonti & Tony Rotundo photos)

By TC Lifonti

Caleb Noble and Aaron Stewart have had quite a year. The duo out of Warren Township High School has reignited a program that is once again on the rise and on people’s radars in state. And as these two wrestlers are standing atop state and national podiums, people from all over are taking notice.    

For Noble, the freshman has had quite a campaign and fortunately for him and Illinois wrestling fans, he still has three years of wrestling left.  

However, before Noble even stepped onto the mat for the Blue Devils, he was already a force. Last season in Fargo, he was a 16U national champion in Greco-Roman and a national runner-up in freestyle at 100 pounds. So coming into high school, there was no secret or mystery behind his capabilities. It would simply be a matter of how he would progress and perform.  

Enter the freshman season.

After some bumps and bruises along with many triumphs, Noble captured the 106-pound 3A state championship in grand fashion. He then went on to wrestle through the Illinois Freestyle and Greco-Roman State Championships unscathed for his Triple Crown. Noble, who has proven that he is more than a wrestler who wears his emotions on his singlet, walks into every match with explosive moves and a flare for the dramatics that also make him exciting to watch.  

This spring, in the U.S. Open’s Junior division, Noble placed fourth in Greco and fifth in freestyle. He then collected himself and went on to conquer the field in both styles at the Northern Plains Regional in Rochester, Minn.  

Alongside Noble is the sophomore standout Stewart. Last season, after placing third at the IHSA State Championships, Stewart captured double titles in Fargo at 160 pounds, with his freestyle crown earned in the final seconds of an exciting match.  This year, Stewart did not need any last-second heroics as he has been simply dominant in many events.    

After claiming his first state championship, Stewart came into the spring season and left little doubt who owned the 160-pound weight across Illinois as he diced up each opponent in seemingly no time on his way to a second Illinois freestyle and Greco-Roman state championships.

Like Noble, Stewart’s stock is well on the rise and this dynamic duo has become two of the more exciting wrestlers to watch in Illinois and on the national stage.  

Munaretto finds redemption as he doubles down in Vegas

Domenic Munaretto of St. Charles East came to Las Vegas in April and doubled down on his vision.  His reward? He is back onto the U17 World stage at 51 kilograms and he will be doing so in two styles.  As a World champion in 2022, Munaretto came up shy of his goals and a possible repeat last year at the U17 WTT. However, he believes that setback is what has propelled him forward to this moment.

Domenic Munaretto

Coming into the weekend, Munaretto had his sights set on being the World Team representative for both Greco and freestyle. He felt a domination in both styles would show his growth and progress and simple dominance.  

In that, as Munaretto worked through his Greco bracket with three technical superiorities that never saw him relinquish a point, he was well on his way. Once in his best-of-three series against Arseni Kikiniou of Poway Wrestling, Munaretto’s streak of not being scored on continued. He took the first match, 2-0.  

Unfortunately for him in match two, Munaretto got a bit excitable and placed himself in an unfavorable position that would cost him the match, 7-3. But his maturity and ability to reflect on the small moment allowed him to see the bigger picture and move onto match three.

“I lost because I was trying to score on top,” Munaretto explained. “I tried a head-pinch, it didn’t go over and that’s how I lost. But I knew I had one more match.”

With a clear focus, Munaretto wrestled a much cleaner match three, controlled his positions, and took out Kikiniou, 9-2. Munaretto was now one style away from his goal.  

Once freestyle kicked in, Munaretto stayed on course and used that same momentum and drive to close his weekend with his second title. After leaving no doubt that he was the best wrestler on his side of the Challenge Tournament, Munaretto flexed his freestyle in the best-of-three series against All-Star Wrestling Club’s Alex Rozas as he closed out his WTT tournament in two straight bouts, 3-1 and 5-0, and will be headed to the World Championships, Aug. 19-25 in Amman, Jordan.  

“Winning this tournament means a lot because last year hurt,” Munaretto said. “I came every so close and fell short. But I wouldn’t choose anything over it. I don’t think I’d be here right now with two titles if I didn’t lose last year.” 

Hamilton is gaining momentum 

Valerie Hamilton is back and looks better than ever. The El Paso-Gridley native, who competed only a few times last season, is back on the mat, focused and winning.  

Already a 2021 U15 World champion, Hamilton, who also claimed a silver at the 2022 U17 World Championships, proved her mettle at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas last month when she took down the entire 145-pound field and captured the Girls High School Showcase.

Valerie Hamilton

She took her No. 1 seed and went 10-0, 8-2, and 4-0 on her way to the finals. Once there, Hamilton closed out her tournament with a 4-0 blanking of No. 3-seed Belicia Manuel from Michigan Revolution in the finals.  

From Vegas, Hamilton traveled to Rochester, Minn., for the Northern Plains Regional and lived up to her top seed by scoring two technical falls and a 25-second fall in her semifinal bout to claim the Junior Girls title at 145 pounds.

Next up for Hamilton appears to be another possible regional and ultimately Fargo, where she hopes to put a championship stamp on her freestyle season.