Sean McGinley was proud of this team. Really proud.
Cathedral High School wrestling in 2022-2023 qualified six wrestlers for the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Tournament while also winning team championships in the first three rounds of the postseason.
That made for another successful season for one of the most-tradition-rich high school wrestling programs in Central Indiana.
“They fought all the way until the end,” McGinley, the Irish’s longtime wrestling coach, said. “They were a team you wanted at your back, basically.”
The Irish finished tied for 19th at the state tournament with 22 points, capping yet another strong season for one of Indiana’s top high school programs.
They also won the Section 20 tournament at Arsenal Tech with 304 points ahead of runner-up Bishop Chatard (191). They then won the Region 10 tournament with 216.5 points ahead of runner-up Hamilton Heights (123) before winning the New Castle Semi-State tournament with 117 points ahead of runner-up Warren Central (105).
“We knew we had a strong little nucleus and we built around that,” McGinley said. “Guys stepped up. Doing as well as we did made it special.”
A look at Irish wrestling in 2023:
*Sophomore John Bissmeyer (25-13) qualified for the semi-state round at 106 pounds. Bissmeyer finished as sectional runner-up and finished third at the regional before losing to Perry Meridian junior Hurai Lian in a fall in 3:37 in the second round at semi-state.
*Sophomore Nathan Reyes (25-14) qualified for semi-state at 113 pounds. Reyes won the sectional title and finished as regional runner-up before losing to Zionsville junior Tommy Frazier in a fall in 3:18 in the second round at semi-state.
*Junior Gavin Bragg (30-14) qualified for the state tournament at 120 pounds. Bragg finished as sectional runner-up, won the regional title and finished third at semi-state – then lost in the first round of the state tournament to Evansville Mater Dei sophomore Isaiah Schaefer in 10-3 decision.
*Senior Aden Reyes (37-3) finished fifth in the state tournament at 126 pounds. Reyes won the sectional title, regional title and finished as semi-state runner-up – then won the fifth-place match in the state tournament over Brownsburg freshman Landen Haines in a 5-3 decision.
*Senior Josh Johnson (26-12) finished eighth in the state tournament at 132 pounds. Johnson won the sectional title, regional title and finished third at semi-state – then lost the seventh-place match at the state tournament to Mishawaka junior Eleazar Walker in a 5-1 decision. “For him to get back on the podium was special,” McGinley said.
*Senior Max McGinley (35-10) qualified for the state tournament at 138 pounds. McGinley won the sectional title, regional title and finished fourth at semi-state – then lost in the first round of the state tournament to Jay County junior Tony Wall in a fall at 5:00. McGinley said he was proud of his son, who wrestled at the top varsity level for the first time and wrestled through a painful shoulder injury in his first-round match at the state. “Having Max part of it made it a special year,” McGinley said.
*Junior Dillon Graham (42-6) finished sixth in the state tournament at 145 pounds. Graham won the sectional title, regional title and semi-state titles – then lost in the fifth-place match at the state tournament to Dekalb senior Braxton Miller in a 5-3 sudden victory. “It was good to see him get the feel back and we’re looking forward to him next year,” McGinley said.
*Senior Gabe Bragg (25-12) qualified for semi-state at 152 pounds. Bragg won the sectional title and regional title before losing to Westfield senior Jason Rooney in 7-2 decision the second round at semi-state.
*Senior Jackson Edwards (13-16) qualified for semi-state at 160 pounds. Edwards finished as sectional runner-up and fourth at regional before losing to Carmel senior Nathan Powell in an 11-1 decision in the first round at semi-state.
*Freshman Kyle Harden (42-6) finished sixth in the state tournament at 170 pounds. Harden won the sectional title, regional title and semi-state title – then lost in the fifth-place match at the state tournament to Hobart sophomore Aidan Costello in a match forfeit.
*Senior Sterling Smith (15-16) at 182 pounds finished third at sectional, then lost in the first round of the regional to Noblesville senior Oscar Solis-Rodrigues in a 9-5 decision.
*Junior Oscar Kirch (15-15) qualified for semi-state at 195 pounds. Kirch finished third at sectional and fourth at regional before losing to Connersville senior Orian Foster in a fall in :42 in the first round at semi-state.
*Junior Jackson Weingart (32-5) won the sectional title at 220 pounds.
*Junior Hosia Smith (39-3) qualified for semi-state at 285 pounds. Smith won the sectional title and regional title before losing to Zionsville senior Eli Smith in a 3-2 decision in the second round at semi-state.
“We don’t have huge numbers,” McGinley said. “We just can’t throw guys in there. We had a lot of guys who definitely weren’t 100 percent and who weren’t practicing 100 percent. They stuck it out and stuck their nose in it.”
And while the Irish will lose multiple key seniors, they also should return a strong nucleus in 2023-2024.
“There aren’t many schools that come back with five or six place-winners,” McGinley said. “If we can just build around them and get some of these young guys who have been battling and get them a shot, we’ll be OK next year.”