On Saturday afternoon, the Saint Ignatius varsity wrestling team hit the mats against competition for the first time in 2019.
The Wildcats rang in the New Year with two victories in Sullivan Gym on Saturday. The Mat Cats captured a 77-6 win over Archbishop Hoban and a 47-33 triumph over the Padua Bruins.
The wins advance the Wildcats to 4-1 in dual matches this season.
Saint Ignatius vs. Archbishop Hoban
The match, and the day for the Wildcats, began at 113 pounds. Johnny Novak claimed a forfeit for six points to kick things off vs. the Knights.
Jack Bush wrestled the first contested match vs. Sean Listerman at 120. Bush began the contest well, scoring a two-point takedown. Bush then allowed an escape, but answered with two points. Bush fought well throughout the period, and his superior positioning was eventually rewarded with nine seconds left in the first, when the sophomore pinned his foe.
Matthew Whipkey faced off against Luke Radwany next at 126. Whipkey tallied an early two points before allowing an escape. The score stood at 2-1 after two minutes. Whipkey fired out of the gate to start the second, tabbing a reversal and two back points to add to his lead. Whipkey finished the job with 1:10 left in the second, securing a nice pin.
The Wildcats gained six more points at 132. Patrick McGraw rolled to a win via a clean pin with 1:12 left in the first period, continuing his strong senior season.
The Mat Cats then received a number of victories via forfeit. DJ Huff (145), Zach Morgan (152), Tommy Buckles (160), and Josh Dinya (170) all claimed wins via forfeit to increase the hosts' lead.
The next contested match occurred at 182. Tommy Gill roared on the mat at the start of the first period. The senior wasted little time in securing a pin for six points in the first period for the blue and gold.
Carter Zimmerman tallied a hard-fought pin at 195. The sophomore had to work for his six points, as the feat came with just two seconds left on the clock in the first period. Zimmerman is enjoying a nice campaign at 195 this season.
Caden Campolieti also snagged a win via pin at 220. The senior recorded a pin in the first 30 seconds of the contest in impressive fashion for the Wildcats. In the next match, at 285, the Wildcats saw their first loss. Seamus Cooney, wrestling in his first-ever match, ran into a tough opponent in Jacob Petit. Cooney worked hard, but the senior was dealt a loss via pin late in the opening stanza.
"It's interesting and fun to watch guys like Caden, who comes out after never wrestling in his life," Sullivan said. "He's had a month and a half of practice, and he goes out there and gets two wins for us. Then we have a heavyweight who's never wrestled in his life in Seamus. He ran into a very good wrestler, and got hammered, but these kinds of things make you a better person in life."
The match concluded at 106 with Timmy Putka running up against Tobias Baranek. Putka and his foe from Hoban battled hard for nearly the full time. In one of the highlights of the day, Putka clashed with Baranek for nearly the full time. Putka won with just nine seconds left in the third, via an 18-1 tech fall.
Putka's closing victory finalized a 77-6 victory for the Mat Cats over the Knights.
"This is good. We still need to work on some things," Novak said after the match. "We still have young wrestlers who have talent, they just need to keep working."
Saint Ignatius vs. Padua
The contest between the Wildcats and Bruins featured some great showdowns and fun wrestling.
"Padua is a great team to wrestle this time of year, because they have five strong seniors, who are all very solid wrestlers," said Sullivan. "Our guys who wrestled against them were able to get some good competition, to get them ready for the state competition."
The match began with several forfeits. Jack Bush (120), Matthew Whipkey (126), Patrick McGraw (132), and DJ Huff (138) all accepted victories via forfeit for the Wildcats.
"We have DJ somewhat back, he was able to take a forfeit today," Sullivan said. "It's exciting to have him wearing the uniform and ready to wrestle. We also have a lot of young guys in the lineup, so it's nice to get them mat time."
The first contested match came at 145. Evan Arko faced off against Sam LoFaso of the Bruins. Arko fought valiantly, but LoFaso held the upperhand. LoFaso secured the victory via a pin with 44 seconds left in the first.
"Arko is cracking the lineup this year, he's one of the grinders. It's good to see guys like Arko out there getting experience."
Zach Morgan then matched up with John McNulty at 152. Morgan found himself in an early 2-0 deficit after one, which grew to five early in the third period. Morgan worked hard, but could not find any holes in McNulty's defense. Morgan did tally an escape with 17 seconds left, but lost a 5-1 decision in the end.
Tommy Buckles then took the mat at 160. The junior ran into a great opponent at 160 in Austin Willard. Buckles succumbed to a loss via pin with 1:14 left in the first. Josh Dinya also suffered a loss via pin at 170, narrowing the Wildcats' advantage.
Padua captured another victory via a pin at 170. Manus McCaffrey pinned Andrew Chime in the first period after Chime claimed an early 2-0 lead. Padua's six points catapulted the visitors to a narrow three-point lead, 27-24.
Tommy Gill took the mat for the Wildcats at 195 in a closely contested match vs. Matt Abraham. Neither competitor could manage any points in the first period. Gill ceded an escape point to Abraham to start the second, then lost two points to a takedown. Gill made a dent in the scoreboard with an escape midway through the second, but lost two to Abraham later in the second. Gill fought into the third, and nearly came back for the victory, but Abraham slowly turned his upper positioning into a pin in the final stages of the match.
Caden Campolieti repped the Wildcats at 220. The senior built a 5-3 lead after the first period, thanks to aggressive, fierce wrestling. Campolieti and John Cuthbert battled in an exciting second period that brought the Sullivan Gym crowd alive. The two competitors traded points and positioning in a topsy-turvy period. In the third stanza, the fracas continued. Following some fun action, Campolieti felled his opponent via sheer strength of will for six points.
Two Padua forfeits ensured a Saint Ignatius win. Seamus McCarthy (285) and Timmy Putka (106) accepted the victories for the Wildcats.
The final match of the day came at 113. Johnny Novak did battle with Shane Bianchi of the Bruins. Wrestling up, Novak gradually laid the groundwork for a decisive victory. The senior notched two points here and earned three points there. Novak took what his opponent gave him, and by the latter stages of the third, Novak had conquered his foe by tech fall, 17-2.
"I knew he was going to be tough. I just had to have the mindset that, 'I'm going to win.' We needed the team points, so I just went out and won," Novak said. "I learned, especially from the past week, I need to be more aggressive on my feet. I know I'm good on my feet, I just need to be more aggressive, to get the turns and the points.
"I had a rough day during the second day [of the Brecksville Holiday Tournament]. I just need to start believing in myself again. This was a good match to get my confidence back up," Novak concluded.
With two wins in the bag, the Wildcats will start preparing for the Minutemen Duals at Revere High School. The postseason is also on the horizon -- a short seven weeks away.
"Sectionals are so close, so we'll start working on our conditioning. Some of our technique, we'll start fine-tuning," Sullivan said. "Everything now is focused on Sectionals, Districts, and States now. We have some important matches coming up, but it's all focusing on peaking for Sectionals."