The new year is treating the Wildcats well so far.
After winning the team championship at the Minutemen Duals last weekend, the Wildcats finished third at the Catholic Invitational Tournament, placing nine on the podium.
The third-place finish marks the fourth straight year of the Cats taking the bronze medal at the CIT.
For this recap, we'll start with the lightweights and make our way to the heavyweights. We begin with Timmy Putka, one of the nine Wildcats to place in the tournament. The sophomore received two byes to start before facing off with JT Furko IV, a formidable foe from Toledo St. John's. The junior dealt Putka a defeat, dropping the 106-pound Cat to the consolation bracket. Putka wore down his foe in the opening consolation match, winning by fall at 4:24. Unfortunately, the sophomore ran out of steam in his next two matches, losing both, one by pin and the second by a narrow 9-7 decision. Putka settled for sixth place.
Johnny Novak stood tall at 113 pounds for the Cats. Entering as one of the top seeds, Novak drew a bye before heading up against Archbishop Moeller's Joe Kenny. In quick fashion, Novak earned the pin to advance to the quarterfinals. Trent Proctor from CCC awaited him for the right to fight for the championship. In a lengthy battle, Novak was superior, wearing down Proctor for a pin at 5:27. Brendan McCrone of Lake Catholic awaited Novak in the title bout. In a classic clash, McCrone just managed to squeeze by Novak, 3-2.
Grayson McLellan took the mat at 120 for the Cats. The junior looked great in his opening match, besting his opponent from Moelle in an 18-2 tech fall. His next foe from Benedictine did not fare much better, as McLellan scored an 18-13 decision. But McLellan's run ended in the quarterfinals when the eventual champ Michael Petrella dealt him a defeat. McLellan didn't sweat it, winning his consi semifinal match by a 4-2 decision. Jack Roth of Elder confronted him for third place. In a thrilling match that needed overtime, Roth won by tallying 2 points, dealing McLellan a tough loss. Even still, McLellan's fourth-place effort is nothing to shrug at.
Jack Bush started and finished strong at 126 for the Wildcats. The junior captured victories by pin and an 11-6 decision to advance to the quarterfinals. But Bush lost to the eventual runner-up in 3:12, dropping him to the consolation bracket. No matter. Bush fought for a 13-8 decision over a Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin grappler to punch his ticket to the third-place match. The bronze medal would not be easy to come by, as Tyler Seacrist of Lake Catholic was also vying for third. The heart-pounding battle required extra time, as the two contestants found themselves deadlocked at 7 after regulation. In dramatic fashion, Bush scored two points in the sudden victory period for third. It was certainly a highlight for the Wildcats.
Calum Campolieti looked great in the early goings at 138 for the Wildcats. The junior captured two victories by pin, in 2:35 and 1:03 over very solid foes. Campolieti fell short in the semifinals against Benedictine's Nicholas Abounader, but fought valiantly. He also fought hard in the consis, but lost his first duel. Sam Infante also earned an early pin at 145 before losing two straight matches.
At 152 pounds, Jarell Young truly stole the spotlight. The freshman felled his first two opponents in impressive fashion, ripping off wins in 1:34 and 3:41. But even with these pin wins, his most impressive feat might have been his conquest in the semifinals. Young faced off against Nolan Hatten, a senior from Toledo St. John's. Hatten and Young duked it out for all of regulation, trading point for point. The bout required overtime, but not even that could settle things. This forced an ultimate tiebreaker. And in clutch fashion, Young secured a point and a victory. Young's win clinched him a spot in the finals. Elder's Seth Lambers, a 19-2 senior, won the championship. But Young flashed his incredible talent in battling his way to the final.
At 160, Evan Arko lost his opening contest by a pin. But he did battle back in his opening consolation match, tallying a pin. But then his day ended with a loss to the later third-place finisher from Elder. Tommy Buckles experienced the same fate at 170, dropping his first bout but earning a pin in his first consolation match. But just like Arko, Buckles lost to the eventual bronze medal winner. Andrew Chime also did not place at 182, losing both of his contests.
Josh Dinya had to settle for sixth place after a promising start. The senior won a grueling initial contest, finally coining a pin at 4:52. He then accepted a medical forfeit in the quarterfinals before medically forfeiting himself in two straight matches at 195.
Carter Zimmerman continued his bright season at 220 this weekend. The junior clipped a 5-3 decision in his opener on Saturday before pinning his next foe in 3:18. His title run ended there, as LaVeall Trimble of St. John's bested him in the semifinals. Zimmerman kept going though, claiming a 6-0 decision in his consolation semifinal match. Then in an epic battle for third place, Zimmerman suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat. Still, Zimmerman's 4th place finish is a nice one.
Patrick Clink battled back from an early defeat at 285. The sophomore bested his first consolation opponent, pinning him in 4:05. Clink then won over Austin Dunn of St. Edward in a nice 4-2 decision win. A loss derailed his hopes for third place, but Clink did earn fifth place with a pin win in his final match.
The Mat Cats will return to Northeast Ohio next weekend for a tri-match on Saturday. Padua will host Saint Ignatius and Dublin Scioto, starting at 10 am. Last year, the Wildcats defeated both teams, besting Padua, 47-33, and Scioto, 54-24.