Notes from Coach Doyle

Sean Doyle, Head Coach
Wheeling Jesuit University

March 11, 2014

It is hard to believe that nearly 15 months ago, there wasn't a single individual walking the campus of Wheeling Jesuit as part of the newly found wrestling program. Just last week, 24 individuals can say completed the first wrestling season in the history of Wheeling Jesuit University. While we did not get a National Qualifier, this season was filled with many successes and the building of a foundation to provide future success. 4 wrestlers went over the 20 win mark! It was a memorable season as we achieved our first dual win, first tournament win and the building of the 'The Cardinal Culture.'

For those that have not heard, 4x National Champion Kyle Dake will headline the program's first ever wrestling camp this summer. The camp will run from June 22-26 and information can be found at here. Prior to the camp, the team will once again be taking a team trip to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, where we transition our newly found Cards to the veterans!

Last weekend, we competed in the Super Region I Tournament at Pitt-Johnstown. It is an extremely tough test, as 12 teams compete with just 3 individuals qualifying from each weight class. Those following closely would know that we never had a wrestler ranked above 5 in the region. We knew it would take a strong effort and a few BIG upsets to get someone to the National Tournament. Sawyer Leppla and Ryan Winslow both lost in the semi-consolation round, placing them in the top 6. Maxwell Lacey lost in the quarter consolation round, achieving top 8 status. While it wasn't what we set out for, this team wrestled hard and made their presence known every time on the mat this season. I am extremely proud of that.

Brad Kakos (11-21 5th Mount Union Inv., 4th WV Invitational)
Brad went out just like he wrestled all year, with a ton of toughness and tenacity. Brad went 0-2 and in his elimination match to the eventual 4th place finisher, Brad dropped a 9-8 match. It may have been his best match of the year. Brad will put a lot of time in this off season and continue to make big strides. Look for big things from Brad moving forward.

Scott Lopez (24-14, 3rd BW Open, 2nd W&J Inv, 5th Mount Union Inv, 2nd Spartan Mat Classic, WV Invitational Champion)
Scott went 0-2 losing two tough matches. Scott was visibly undersized this year as a small 133 lbs but managed to have a great freshman campaign picking up 24 wins and placing in nearly every event entered. Scott's future success will be determined by the priority he places in the weight room and matching the physicality needed at this level. Scott's skill set is equal or better than almost everyone he wrestles and we'd expect to see him competing to be an All-American sooner than later.

Damon Outward (25-16, 5th BW Open, 5th W&J Inv, 4th Mount Union Inv, 3rd Spartan Mat Classic)
Damon went 0-2, losing 3-0 and 3-2. Damon weighed in at 138 and like Scott, experienced great success while giving up some weight. I think the fact that our guys were able to focus on skill development and not weight loss in their first year, will pay big dividends down the road. Damon is a fierce competition that is fun to watch, and like Scott we expect big things from at the National Level. Damon improved tremendously throughout the season, and I look forward to seeing his off season improvements in the room.

Jonathan Barrett (5-10, 3rd WV Collegiate Invitational)
Jon lost both of his matches on Saturday. It was great to see Jon Barrett make the transition to Wheeling Jesuit this year from Southern Virginia. Jon is a hard worker and has high expectations of himself, so I would imagine he'll be leading the way this off season. He's a contagious personality and leader so we hope to seem a large following.

John Gershom (10-21, 7th Mount Union Inv, 6th WV Collegiate Invitational)
John seemed to experience some bad luck 2nd semester with a freak kettle bell concussion and regionals proved to be no different. At 6am on Saturday morning, John knocked on my door with a blood shot eye. John had picked up Pink Eye between 10pm Friday Night and 6am Saturday morning, and preventing him from wrestling. It was unfortunate for John, as he had worked hard and prepared himself. Hopefully John will use this as a motivator this spring/summer leading into next year.

Anthony 'TJ' Smith (6-20, 4th Spartan Mat Classic)
TJ experienced two losses Saturday. His first loss to the defending National Champion from Notre Dame, is a clear indicator of the strides TJ made this year. TJ lost 10-3 but pushed his opponent for 7 minutes straight, nearly scoring on many occasions. TJ lost to his Mercyhurst opponent next, 11-7. This opponent pinned him earlier in the year and TJ had him broke but ran out of time this go around. TJ may have been our most improved this year and I'd say he is clearly one to watch in the future. He works hard and is a student of the game, and a good one at that.

Sawyer Leppla (28-13, 1st BW Open, 4th W&J Inv, 4th Mount Union Inv, 3rd Spartan Mat Classic, 2nd WV Collegiate Invitational)
Sawyer had a fantastic freshman season that fell just short of an opportunity to qualify for the National Tournament. Sawyer continued to improve and build on his strengths, and became a serious contender. Sawyer went 2-2, losing to both the 3rd and 4th placer wrestlers. Sawyer is an individual that has all of the necessary tools to be highly successful at this level and now needs to put the time in to sharpen those tools. Improvement from the neutral and bottom position will give him a great shot to contend with the best in the country next year. I am most proud of his consistency in his performance this season and reliability in key moments.

Ryan Winslow (13-5, 4th Mount Union Invitational, WV Collegiate Invitational Champion)
Ryan also made the semi-consolation, placing him one match from an opportunity at the National Tournament. Ryan's only losses came to the #2 and #5 ranked wrestlers in the country, and his only losses this semester came to the same two wrestlers. Ryan has a relentless pursuit of excellence and a desire to win, unmatched by many. It will be a big few months ahead, as Ryan looks to improve in his key areas of weakness. If Ryan can learn to score early in matches and from the neutral position, there won't be to many individuals in the country that can hang with him. If the work he put in this year is an indicator, next year will be big for him.

Maxwell Lacey (21-20, 6th W&J Inv, 7th Mount Union Inv, 2nd WV Collegiate Inviational)
Max went 1-2 on the weekend losing in the quarter consis and placing him in the top 8. Winning 21 matches as a freshman at the collegiate ranks is a great accomplishment, but Max is not a satisfied individual. He had a year that saw many ups and downs and a lot of learning. Max made great strides this year and the biggest lessons learned were ones which help him understand what it takes to be successful at this level. Not to many wrestlers can keep up with Max when he's confident and believes in himself but consistency is the key for Max. Learning how to reproduce those great moments will help Max get to the next level.

Logan Bowman (17-15, 4th BW Open, 5th Mount Union Invitational, 5th Spartan Mat Classic, 3rd WV Collegiate Invitational)
Logan went 0-2, dropping a 3-2 first round match and a 10-2 match in the consolation round. Heavyweight was a very deep weight in the region and Logan competed well all year. Logan is still gaining a lot of valuable experience and I think he made big gains throughout the season. Like many of our young guys, confidence is key and as Logan begins to believe in how good he is, he'll achieve great things.

I would like to thank everyone for their support this season. We will be sending out information on our team banquet soon and would love to see everyone there. We'll continue to provide team updates and other important news regarding the program.

Enjoy your spring!
Coach Doyle

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