In the second weekend of the season, the Saint Ignatius varsity wrestling team took a quick trip to Independence High School for the North Coast Classic.
The tournament proved to be a success for the Wildcats, with three placers and one tournament champ.
Leading the way for the second straight week was Johnny Novak, who won his weight class at 106. Patrick McGraw and Matthew Whipkey also enjoyed solid performances, finishing second and fourth, respectively.
Novak remained undefeated on the season with a great effort at 106. The junior decisively worked his way through the competition on Friday, capturing victories via pin, tech fall, major decision, and decision. Novak's closest match in his journey to the semifinal was 6 points.
Novak then took care of business on Saturday. Novak captured a 14-2 major decision in the semifinal to fight his way to the title bout. The final match was a battle. Novak faced off with Solon's CJ Bell, and sparred all three periods. In the end, Novak edged Bell, 2-1, to win the gold for the second time in as many weeks.
At 113, Grayson McLellan began the tournament with a win in the first round by decision, 6-2. However, the sophomore then dropped his next two matches, dropping out of the tournament.
Matthew Whipkey romped through the early portion of the invitational. The senior won his first four matches via pin, the longest of which took 3:47. Whipkey rolled into the semifinal at 126 before facing off with Logan Seligan from Bell Vernon, Pennsylvania. The senior pinned Whipkey in the first period, sending the Wildcat leader into the consolation rounds. Whipkey won the first match via decision, 7-2, before narrowly losing the third-place match, 6-3.
The third Wildcat to place was McGraw. The 132-pounder sliced through the competition like a hot knife through butter in the first few rounds. McGraw won four of his five first matches by fall, and the fifth by tech fall, 17-0.
McGraw carried plenty of momentum into Saturday's semifinal. His energy showed, as he defeated his foe by decision, 8-1. McGraw was not so fortunate in the championship bout, running into Jaivon Jones, a senior from Nordonia. Jones pinned McGraw to take the title, forcing the Wildcats' senior to settle for second. Look for McGraw to bounce back with big wins this weekend.
With DJ Huff sitting out due to injury, Evan Arko navigated the competition at 138. Arko won his first match by pinning his opponent, but then ran into a top-notch competitor in the third round after a bye. Arko fought hard in his next couple of matches, but could not get a victory to place.
The next Wildcat battled at 160. Sam Clark navigated a deep field at his weight class. Clark won his first round match before losing by fall in his next few matches.
Tommy Buckles represented Saint Ignatius at 170. Buckles earned one win by fall, but could not win enough matches to place. Josh Dinya also could not place at 182, but did grab a handful of wins along the way.
At the end of the tournament, the Wildcats, who did not have a wrestler in each weight class, sat in 16th place in the team standings with 207 points. Berea-Midpark won the title with 390 points. Nordonia (389), Perkins (371), Mentor (318), and Padua (316) rounded out the top ten.
The Wildcats return to action on Friday, hosting Walsh Jesuit and Bedford for the home opener in Sullivan Gym at 6 p.m.