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Mat Cats Celebrate Valentine's Day with Two Wins

By Joe Ginley '12 , 02/15/20, 1:30PM EST


Johnny Novak stood on his head to earn a clutch win.

On Friday evening, the Saint Ignatius wrestling program enjoyed a nice Valentine’s Day. With a nice crowd in Sullivan Gym, the Wildcats earned two nice wins.

With the victories, the Cats advance to 12-2 in dual meets on the season.

Saint Ignatius – 51, Cuyahoga Heights – 31

Saint Ignatius and Cuyahoga Heights opened the evening with the heavyweights, beginning at 152 pounds. With Jarell Young out sick, Joe Salinas-Rosa stepped in for the Wildcats. The junior fought hard in the opener, but succumbed to his foe, 6-3, despite a nice takedown in the third. Evan Arko also tasted defeat at 160, losing via a second-period pin at 160.

Tommy Buckles got the Wildcats on the board at 170, winning by forfeit. But Cuyahoga Heights stole the points right back with a quick pin of Sam Clark. Enter Josh Dinya.

Pacing like a raging bull, Dinya entered the match angry. The result showed. His opponent stood no chance, as a mad Dinya needed just 32 seconds to put his Cuyahoga Heights foe on his back, and earn 6 points for the blue and gold.

Patrick Clink suffered a pin at 220 before Carter Zimmerman stepped onto the mat for one of the best battles of the evening. Zimmerman faced off against Matt Connors, a fearsome foe indeed. The contest started off close, Connors earning a 2-1 early lead before Zimmerman tied it in the second period. Then in the third, the tides turned for Zimmerman. The junior used a surprise move that caught his opponent unaware, and suddenly pinned Connors and brought Sullivan Gym to its feet.

Entering the break, the Wildcats trailed narrowly, 21-18.

The Wildcats and Cuyahoga Heights met to end the evening in the third round. The lightweights provided plenty of entertainment.

Timmy Putka opened things up with a pin in only 45 seconds. The sophomore is enjoying a whale of a season for the Wildcats.

The fans in Ohio City witnessed another premier match at 113. Nolan Frye, the No. 3 ranked wrestler in the state, matched up with Johnny Novak. In a battle of wills, the two duked it out for the full time. The two traded points in the second, entering the third deadlocked at 1. But the third period belonged to Novak. The senior got a great takedown, but then allowed an escape. Leading 3-2, he might have stepped off the gas, but he got a huge nearfall for three points, cementing his victory, 6-2.

Grayson McLellan also found himself in a grueling match at 120. The affable junior tabbed an early reversal after being taken down in the first. McLellan took the momentum with a reversal and takedown in the second, though his opponent got an escape to set the score at 6-3 entering the third. He cemented his advantage with another takedown, overcoming two escapes by his opponent for an 8-5 win.

Joey Novak accepted six free points with a forfeit win at 126. The Wildcats came into possession of six more points with a Jack Bush pin win at 132.

Anthony Santagata’s match turned out to be a lengthy battle of wills. The junior constructed an early 5-0 lead after one. In the second, he tabbed three takedowns, but his opponent got three escapes and a takedown to keep the match close at 11-5. Then the captain put his foot down in the third, ripping off an escape and a pair of takedowns for a 16-6 W.

Sam Infante ended the evening with a show. The Fairview Park native closed out the victory with a hard-earned pin at 145 in the second period at 3:33. With Infante’s impressive victory, the Wildcats cornered a 51-31 win as a team.

“It was nice. We started off slow, they had a couple of tough upperweights,” said head coach Mark Sullivan. “But our lightweights took care of business against their lightweights, the strength of their team. We had some really nice wins. Johnny Novak beat the No. 3 kid in the state, Timmy Putka got a really nice pin over a good opponent at 106. We had some other guys shuffled around – Sam Infante had a really nice win. We bumped him up a weight, and he did well.”  

Saint Ignatius– 61, North Ridgeville – 9

In the first round, the Wildcats and Rangers duked it out with the lightweights. The strength of the Cats is the lightweights, so the wins piled up in a hurry.

Timmy Putka played the role of leadoff man, and did his job well. The youngster got the early advantage with a takedown, though he did allow an escape. Putka won the day with his second-period heroics, popping off a reverse and a takedown, which would be all he needed in a 6-2 triumph.

Johnny Novak accepted six points from a forfeit at 113, giving way to his brother Joey at 120. The younger Novak took care of business in his quiet, confident style with a pin at 1:29.

Grayson McLellan needed the full three periods, but he still got the W. The junior sprung out to a 5-1 victory in the first period. An escape proved to be the only points in the second, and McLellan closed it out with a takedown in the third. McLellan took home an 8-2 victory at 126, even while wrestling up a class.

Jack Bush also moved up, doing battle at 132. The junior found himself in a war early on, heading into the second with a 4-2 lead. But it became a one-sided affair in the second, as Bush quickly dipped for an escape and then racked up a takedown and nearfall. A third-period takedown set the final margin at 12-3.

Anthony Santagata accepted a forfeit at 138 before Sam Infante stepped into the ring in the final contest before the break. Infante did not disappoint, balling out to a 7-2 lead after one and a 9-6 advantage after two. He allowed a reversal in the third, but held on for the win, 9-8.

The Wildcats took a 31-0 shutout into the break.

Again subbed in at 152, Salinas-Rosa fought hard. But the junior experienced a loss via pin to start things off.

Evan Arko returned the Wildcats to form with a dominant triumph at 160. The veteran put his opponent on his back in the second period, doing his job like a pro. Tommy Buckles showcased his skills as well at 170, needing only 1:35 to pin his opponents.

Andrew Chime faced a tough opponent at 182, and suffered a 7-4 loss with a late takedown. But then Josh Dinya got the Wildcats back on track. Looking like a machine, Dinya pinned his opponent in just 17 seconds. You don’t want to see Dinya when he’s angry.

Patrick Clink tallied the Cats’ second straight win at 220, with a wonderful pin in 1:34. Then Carter Zimmerman completed the victory by accepting six points from a forfeit.

The Wildcats clinched a 61-9 triumph, advancing the team to 12-2 in dual meets on the year.

Next Up

The Wildcats have just one more match before the postseason, as they host Strongsville next Friday for Senior Night. Last year, the Wildcats earned a 56-21 win over the Mustangs.

“This week, we’re working on being healthy and safe,” Sullivan said. “We’ll be working on the little technical things, no big changes. Just small tweaks here and there. At this point, the conditioning is done, we’re in good shape. They’re ready to go. It will be a very difficult Sectional and District run to get to State, but I think we’re ready.”