The first meet of the year is never a cakewalk for the Saint Ignatius wrestling program.
The Wildcats compete in a challenging meet to start the season – the Solon Comet Classic.
And despite the stiff competition, the Wildcats managed to claim sixth place out of 28 teams.
Highlights of the meet included two champions, a third-place finisher, a fifth-placer, and a sixth-placer. Without a doubt, Johnny Novak and Patrick McGraw stole the show for the Wildcats.
Novak battled his way to a title at 106 for the Wildcats. Following a competitive day of wrestling on Friday, Novak eked out a 4-3 win on Saturday in the semifinals. Later on Saturday, Novak showed the heart of a champion with a 4-1 triumph to seal his place at first place on the stage on Saturday.
McGraw also worked hard to claim gold at 132. The senior fought through the difficult side of the bracket on Friday to clinch a spot in the semifinals. A 12-8 win in the semifinals sent him to the final bout. His path to the title became much easier when his opponent from Girard (and the rest of his teammates) decided to attend the school's football championship game. So, McGraw won the title by default.
Matthew Whipkey also did well over the weekend. The 113-pounder fired out to a hot start on Friday before meeting his match in the semifinals. But Whipkey continued to fight, winning the consolation match to capture third.
Josh Dinya earned fifth place at the prestigious tournament by fighting through the bracket at 182. Look for the junior to make plenty of noise this season.
Grayson McLellan also placed at the meet, taking sixth. McLellan fought his way to the semifinals on Saturday, but dropped two matches in a row before a medical default forced him into 6th. McLellan will be another Cat to watch this season.
Another highlight of the meet was Caden Campolieti. The senior wrestled competitively for the first time in his life, and did well. Campolieti pinned his opponents in each of his first two matches and nearly did the same in his next two matches, but lost both. Campolieti has plenty of strength from his time at linebacker for the Football Cats – he's not someone you want to be across from on the mat.
The Wildcats' next match will be at home on December 14. The Mat Cats will host Walsh Jesuit and Bedford in Sullivan Gym.