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Timmy Putka and Jarell Young Qualify for the State Tournament

By Joe Mertens '15, 03/09/22, 11:00AM EST


The Mat Cats have two wrestlers representing Saint Ignatius in the State Tournament in Columbus as Timmy Putka and Jarell Young qualify.

OHIO CITY, Oh - "You didn't get here by yourself; other people helped you get to this spot." That is how Wrestling Chaplain Drew Vilinsky '97 opened his chapel talk for the season's final week. The Mat Cats have two state qualifiers in senior Timmy Putka and junior Jarell Young. Both Putka and Young will be heading to Columbus as the State Tournament returns to The Ohio State University in the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

At the District Tournament at Perrysburg High School, Putka became a state qualifier after battling back in one of the biggest matches in his wrestling career. Trailing on the scoreboard 3-2 in the final round to Findlay's John Paul Smith, Putka needed a match-changing move in the closing seconds.

"It came down to those final 15 seconds, I looked at Sully and he told me I had to go for something, I went for a throw and it didn't exactly work out," explains Putka. "I was able to work my way out of it and got the two."

Putka's teammates and coaches went into a frenzy and Head Wrestling Coach Mark Sullivan was amazed how Putka pulled off the victory. "We had a specific game plan for Timmy; for Timmy to win, it would be a one-point match, so we knew he had to attack low," says Sullivan. "During the break, we talked with Timmy and told him to stay low, which he did, but couldn't get a takedown; in the final seconds, I told him to go upper body. Timmy did a funky throw that didn't work, but the kid became unbalanced; it was the most unlikely successful takedown I have ever seen."

The victory for Putka solidified his spot in Columbus in the 144 weight class. Putka would would pin Olmsted Falls' Carson Atkins in two minutes and ten seconds to place third at Districts in his weight class.

"It's a testament of what kind of person Timmy is," says Associate Head Wrestling Coach Jonathan Polick '03. "Him battling through all six minutes shows his work ethic. He knew what he had to do coming into the match, he put it all into the match and it worked out."

Young is no stranger to this stage at the District Meet. Last season, Young lost in the District Quarterfinal and had to rattle off four straight victories to become a state qualifier. Young used his experience this year and had a very successful District Tournament in the 175 weight class.

Young got a quick start, pinning his first-round match-up Ray Robinson of Amherst-Steele in under a minute. Young would head into the District Quarterfinal, where he defeated Jackson Hawker of Perrysburg 7-3. Young was one win away from qualifying for his second straight State Tournament despite dropping his semifinal match. Young came out with a vengeance and, in just 28 seconds, pinned Findlay's Keegan Klotz to punch his ticket to Columbus.

"At first, I didn't have much information on the kid I was matched up against," Young explains. "When I got into the match, there was an adrenaline rush and it was a simple shot to get a pin."

Young would go on to defeat Hawker 8-0 to place third in the 175 weight class.

"His nerves were a lot more settled this year, he was super aggressive and Jarell took the points from kids, not giving opponents a chance," says Sullivan. "He ended up being ahead early in matches and gutted out the wins, he was dead tired, but you wouldn't have known when looking at him."

Putka and Young will now head down to Columbus as the Division I State Tournament will begin Friday, March 11. For Putka, this is his first State Tournament and what a bounce-back it is for Putka would be sidelined all of the 2020-21 season due to an injury. "I'm grateful where I am after watching wrestling from the sidelines last year," explains Putka. "Going into this week I'm just grateful I'm still here."

"We knew Timmy was a state-level wrestler," says Polick. "The way things worked out, he was behind state placer Johnny Novak '20 his freshman year, he cut too much weight his sophomore year and he was injured last year. I know last season he had a hard time missing, so he went out his senior year and made the most of his opportunities."

Young dealt with adversity to begin the season as he was sidelined with an injury and missed some time, but he looks stronger than ever heading into the season's final week. "Sometimes the script doesn't go the way you want it to, but this year it has," Sullivan says. "Timmy is peaking at the right moment, he has never beat a state-ranked kid in his life and he won two to qualify for States. It'll be a difficult tournament for both Timmy and Jarell, but these guys have the opportunity to win."

Putka and Young know what must be done heading to Columbus and are ready for the challenges that await them this weekend. "The work is done now; that is what Sully has taught us through the years," explains Putka. "We have to make a few tweaks and be healthy and ready to go for States."

Competing at Jerome Schottenstein Center will be a new experience for the two-state qualifiers. Although Young was a qualifier last season, the State Tournament was held at Hilliard Darby High School instead of The Ohio State University. "Last year, Jarell wrestled at Hilliard Darby, which isn't the same experience at the Schott," says Polick. "I'm excited for both of those guys to get down there Friday morning and see the arena and walk out of the tunnel. That experience is unforgettable."

The State Tournament will be the final meet for Head Wrestling Coach Mark Sullivan as he will retire after 20 years at Saint Ignatius High School. Heading into this weekend, Young knows how special it is to wrestle for Sullivan one last time. "It's inspired me to work harder," says Young. "I think it's awesome he has two state qualifiers for his last year."

"The funny thing is, Timmy and Jarell came up to me and asked me which match meant more to me at Districts," Sullivan says. "I told them both are state qualifications and both are special, one was more difficult, but at the end of the day, both are special and don't lose track of that."

A phenomenal career will come to an end after this weekend, but it has been a tremendous season for the Mat Cats. Putka and Young will be representing Saint Ignatius Wrestling, but it was a team effort to get to this point in the season. Both wrestlers will look to make a statement in Columbus before sending coach Sullivan into retirement.