At long last, the Wildcats enjoyed home-mat advantage on Friday.
In the first home matches of the season at Sullivan Gym, the Saint Ignatius varsity wrestling team took care of business. The Wildcats defeated both Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, 50-30, and Akron Firestone, 63-9.
“Overall as a team, all of our guys have shown great improvement,” said head coach Mark Sullivan. “They’ve all been working hard in the wrestling room and the weight room. They’re all wrestling well.”
Here’s the story of two Friday night wins for the Wildcats.
Saint Ignatius vs. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy
The match of the night from the Wildcats’ perspective was the battle between the Wildcats and Royals. CVCA has many solid wrestlers ranked in the state. This contest would not be an easy one.
The two teams started off with 152-285. Evan Arko lost the opener with a tough pin. However, Jarell Young got things back on the rails with his incredibly aggressive style. The athletic youngster impressed many in securing a pin at 1:22 of the first stanza. Tommy Buckles also looked great at 170, earning a second-period pin after constructing a 8-0 lead.
Sam Clark struggled at 182, facing a very strong foe. Clark found himself stuck in a bad position with his arm in a tough spot, so he had to take a pin in the second. But Josh Dinya prevented any sort of slide, rapidly recording a pin at 195.
As he’s done quite frequently lately, Carter Zimmerman didn’t need much time to earn a pin. The junior put his challenger on his back in just 43 seconds for six points.
Patrick Clink suffered a loss at 285, outweighed by his foe by a good 50 pounds. As a result, the Wildcats clung to a 24-18 lead entering the break.
After the short time off, the Wildcats and Royals resumed their duel at 106. As per usual, Timmy Putka helped the Mat Cats start things off the right way. The sophomore trailed after the first, 3-1, but dominated the second period with a takedown and then a pin at 3:16.
Johnny Novak found himself in a physical battle at 113 against one of the top-ranked wrestlers in Ohio in the weight class. The two competitors duked it out to a draw in the first. In the second, Novak notched an early escape and then earned a takedown. His opponent managed an escape, but struggled with a nosebleed for much of the match. Novak’s 3-1 lead looked precipitous in the third, but a takedown allowed him to walk away with a 5-3 victory.
“Johnny is becoming the leader of the team on and off the mat,” Sullivan said. “He’s working harded than anybody and it’s showing. It’s good for the guys to see that the guy who is working hardest is getting the best results. The competition today wrestling the No. 3 ranked kid in the state was good. He beat him solidly. The points don’t show it, but he was in a position the whole match and he wrestled well.”
After Grayson McLellan accepted a forfeit at 120, Jack Bush took center stage at 126. Bush scored points at will, lighting up the scoreboard with two takedowns and a nearfall in the first, and the a reversal and two nearfalls in the second. A third-period takedown cemented a 16-1 nearfall win. Anthony Santagata also scored plentiful points with three takedowns before securing a second period pin at 132.
Calum Campolieti experienced a tough loss at 138 via a first-period fall, as did Sam Infante at 145 in the second stanza. But the Wildcats’ advantage was too big for a couple of late pins to make too much of a difference, and the hosts claimed a 50-30 victory.
Saint Ignatius vs. Firestone
From the start, the Wildcats dominated the Falcons.
Saint Ignatius and Firestone started with 106-145 in round one. Timmy Putka began the evening with a quick conquest at 106. The reigning Magis Athlete of the Week was easy money in the opener, securing six points with a pin at 1:30.
Johnny Novak experienced a slightly more of a difficult battle at 113. The senior notched four takedowns in the first period, but his foe managed to escape on three separate occasions. Even still, Novak led after the first, 8-3. After yet another takedown-escape sequence, Novak finished off his foe with four seconds left in the second period.
Grayson McLellan needed the full time to best his opponent. The affable 120-pounder never trailed, notching an early takedown and nearfall, but his foe survived for the whole match. McLellan still walked away with an 11-2 victory.
Jack Bush and Anthony Santagata each nabbed pins, at 126 and 132, respectively. Bush accomplished the feat in the first, while Santagata notched seven takedowns before felling his foe in the third.
“It was nice to see Santagata come around with a great win,” Sullivan said.
Calum Campolieti experienced a protracted battle at 138. The smily junior clawed out to a 3-2 lead after one, advancing it to 8-2 in the second. But his opponent managed to scratch his way back into it with an escape and three takedowns. But each time, Campolieti escaped to preserve an 11-9 victory.
Sam Infante completed the first-round sweep, accomplishing a pin at 3:19 to advance the lead to 36-0.
When the teams resumed the battle in the third round at 152, Firestone claimed its first win of the match. Evan Arko suffered a 9-2 defeat, with the Falcons getting three points out of it.
Jarell Young quickly got the Wildcats back on track at 160. The Wildcats’ freshman, a special young athlete, showcased his marvelous physicality. Young tallied an early takedown and a nearfall before rolling his opponent over for a pin with just one second left in the opening period.
Tommy Buckles experienced a tough defeat at 170, but Andrew Chime battled to a victory at 182 for a nice rebound. The junior fought to a 0-0 tie after the first, before allowing a reversal in the second. But then he countered with a reversal of his own for a 2-2 tie. In the third, he tabbed an escape and a takedown, wrestling like a true Viking for a 5-2 conquest.
Josh Dinya continued his hot streak at 195. The senior has really come into his own lately. Dinya roared to a 10-0 lead by the end of the first, and then finishing off his challenger in the second period.
Once again, Carter Zimmerman clutched a pin at 220. The junior has been a pin machine as of late, ripping them off with great authority. He pinned his Firestone foe in the third period. And just a few moments later, Patrick Clink accepted a forfeit win, setting the Cats with a 63-9 triumph.
The Wildcats will take part in the OHSAA State Duals Regional Tournament next Saturday.
The Mat Cats earned the No. 6 seed and a first-round match with No. 11 John Adams. The first contest will be at 9 am. With a win, the Wildcats would advance to the quarterfinals against No. 3 Mayfield, which has a first-round bye. No. 1 seed St. Edward is the undoubted favorite in the bracket. They’re on the other half of the bracket.
“We’re wrestling better than we were at the start of the season, so I hope we see them again,” Sullivan said.
Maple Heights will be the host of the Region 4 Tournament.
Wildcat Wrestling Club shows up in force
On Friday, the Wildcat Wrestling Club attended the match, and was a great cheering section for the Wildcats.
“It was nice to see the Wildcat Wrestling club tonight,” Sullivan said. “There were about 40 kids and their parents and friends. It was nice to see their support.”