Cardinal Wrestling Era Off On High Note, Despite Tight Loss

WHEELING, W.Va. - A packed house turned out to cheer on the fledgling Cardinals wrestling team at Wheeling Jesuit on Friday night. It was the first home match in program history, and the home team would put on a show for the fans, but eventually fall to Alma College 22-21 in a thrilling dual.

The Cardinals rolled out to four wins in the first 5 bouts to take a commanding 15-3 lead heading into halftime. The Scots big men proved to be too much for the young Cardinals squad however; ticking off four straight wins to complete the comeback.

"There was no doubt the boys competed really hard tonight, and there was a lot of learning that went on tonight too," said WJU head coach Sean Doyle. "There were a lot of wins based off guts and heart. This was a winnable match for us as a team. The guys went hard, but we can identify spots where we could have won the match.

Opening the match at 125, WJU's Brad Kakos squared off against Alma's Tyler Foley. Kakos looked strong in the first period, but Foley scored a takedown with five seconds left in the period to take a lead that he wouldn't relinquish, taking the match 5-0.

The 133lb match was a fight to the finish with Alma's Danny Martinez taking a 3-1 lead after two periods on a takedown and an escape. WJU's Scott Lopez wouldn't go quietly however, battling back to score a takedown with a minute left in the third, leading to WJU's first ever home victory, 5-4.

Skyler Terrell scored another victory for the Cardinals at 141lbs following his first place finish the week prior at the Baldwin Wallace Open, with a win over Alma's Casimer Strzynski. Terrell scored a takedown in the second period to tie the match at two, then scored a point as time expired with more ride time to win 3-2, and put the Cardinals up 6-3.

Sawyer Leppla had the match of the night for the Cardinals.
John Gershom was next up for WJU in the 149lb class. It was another scrappy battle for the Cards, but Gershom had the upper hand scoring a takedown in the second period to go up 4-3. Alma's Cody Sullivan then scored a point on an escape to tie the game at four as the clock ticked down. Gershom won the match for the Cards on a takedown with two seconds left on the clock to take the match 6-4, and put WJU up 9-3.

WJU's Dominick Nania made quick work in the 157lb class scoring a thrilling pin just 23 seconds into the match over Alma's Caleb Huff, and the Cardinals took a 15-3 heading into the break, and taking all the momentum with them.

TJ Smith came in at 165 and faced a formidable Matt Tuttle. Tuttle was quick on attack and pinned Smith in the first round, brining the score to 15-9 WJU.

With so few points left on the table, the 174lb match between WJU's Sawyer Leppla and Alma's Jamie Jakes had the makings of a classic, and it wouldn't disappoint. The match would go through 5 overtime periods before Jakes scored a takedown to grab the 6-4 victory.

Alma's Jared Groeneveld took a win-before-fall victory pinning WJU's Nate Hupp 4:34 into the match in the 184lb class. Hupp's loss put the Scots up 18-15, and the Cardinals momentum dwindled.

At 197lb WJU's Maxwell Lacey had a difficult time with Trevor Maresh, dropping the match by major decision after 3 rounds 0-10. The loss put the dual victory out of reach for the Cardinals as the Scotts climbed to an insurmountable 22-15 lead with just one match remaining.

Logan Bowman ended the match on a high note for the Cardinals in the 285lb class, pinning Alma's Jake Lonergan in the 3rd period, but it was too little too late and the Scots went home with the 22-21 win.

The Cardinals return to action at the Washington & Jefferson College Invitational on Saturday.

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