A busy Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend yielded great results for the Saint Ignatius varsity wrestling team.
The Mat Cats took part in the Catholic Invitational Tournament over the weekend in Toledo, facing off against some of the best grapplers from the great state of Ohio.
For the second straight year, cold weather and heavy snow stole some of the spotlight from the CIT. But despite winter's furor outside, the Wildcats turned out nice results inside of Toledo's St. John Jesuit High School.
The team's lightweights highlighted the team's performance over the weekend. The Wildcats' representatives from 106-138 all fared well, placing in sixth or better to represent Ohio City's Jesuit high school.
Veteran Johnny Novak shone brightly for the Wildcats at 106. The junior careened through the first few rounds, earning two first-minute pins to advance to the semifinals. In this round, Novak met his match in Brendan McCrone of Lake Catholic. McCrone fought to a 7-0 decision, sending Novak to the consolation bracket. The Wildcats' junior took care of business in the consis, claiming victories by a tech fall and a major decision to cement his spot at third place.
Timmy Putka continued his breakout freshman campaign, pinning an opponent from Villa Angela-St. Joseph and besting a tough opponent from Archbishop Moeller, 4-3, to advance to the semifinal at 113. Putka then matched up with the top seed, Michael Petrella, who entered with 29-3 record. Putka could not pull out an upset, dropping to the consolation bracket. Putka dealt a 5-2 decision to his first foe before coming against Lake Catholic's Tyler Seacrist in the battle for third. In a tightly contested matchup, Putka lost by decision, 4-2, to take fourth.
Jack Bush's CIT started well at 120. The sophomore tallied a tech fall victory in his first match to begin victoriously. In his next match, Bush drew a tough match with Carter Johnston. Bush fought hard, but was dealt a late first-period pin to drop to the consis. Bush did great work there, earning three wins (two by pin, one by forfeit) to roll into the third-place bout. Matching up with Dominic Pappalardo out of Moeller, Bush outpaced him with an 8-1 decision to capture bronze.
At 126, Matthew Whipkey enjoyed a nice run. The senior rolled through the first couple rounds, recording two victories by fall. Whipkey didn't slow down in the semifinals, shutting out his opponent in a 6-0 decision. His win set up a bout with Conor McCrone out of Lake Catholic for the title. Whipkey fought hard, but lost to his fellow senior, 16-3, via major decision.
Amidst a great bracket, Patrick McGraw took the stage for the Wildcats at 132. McGraw took care of business in his first two matches, winning by a quick pin and a major decision, to advance to the semifinal. In this round, McGraw came up against Jordan Ward, an undefeated grappler out of Moeller. McGraw gave Ward his best match of the day, only ceding four points to the senior. However, McGraw could not score on Ward, the eventual champ. As a result, the Cats' captain dropped to the consolation bracket. McGraw fought past foes from Lake Catholic and Lima Central Catholic via two close decisions to take third in the stacked class.
Senior DJ Huff returned to the mat at 138 this weekend, a great sign for Wildcats fans. The captain notched a great win via pin before an injury reared its head in the semifinals. Huff was forced to medically default in his next two matches, accepting sixth place. Huff will look to be back soon.
The Wildcats' final placer came at 170. Josh Dinya repped the team well, tabbing a pin in his first match. The junior then squared off against the second-seeded David Frederick Jr. out of Dayton. Dinya fought valiantly but lost by pin to drop to the consis. Dinya clawed his way to the semifinals, winning three matches, two by pin and one via decision. In the third-place match, Elder's Hans Taylor defeated Dinya in a rematch of the first round. As a result, Dinya took a solid fourth place on the weekend for the Wildcats.
The Mat Cats will be on the road again next weekend. The squad will head to Columbus to Columbus for a tri-match against Teays Valley and Dublin Scioto on Friday at 6 p.m.