They’re deep and they’re strong.
As longtime Cathedral High School wrestling coach Sean McGinley will tell you, that guarantees nothing. But it gives the Irish a chance for another special season.
“We have some guys who have grown tremendously, and who have gotten better throughout the year,” McGinley said recently.
The Irish, a perennial state power that has won three Indiana High School Athletic Association state titles in the past six seasons, are positioned for postseason success again in 2019-20. McGinley called this year’s Irish a strong team, and through mid-January the Irish had fared well against what McGinley called a “brutal schedule.”
The Irish finished first at the prestigious Al Smith Classic Wrestling Invite in late December, also winning the Indianapolis City Tournament. The Irish also won the Class 3A title at the Team State Duals held in early January, and were ranked No. 1 in the state by IndianaMat as of mid-January.
The Irish have dual-meet victories over No. 4 Warren Central and No. 8 Perry Meridian, and beat No. 1 Mater Dei – 32-26 – in the Team State Duals Class 3A final.
“We really don’t have any holes,” McGinley said. “That being said, we’re still not at full strength.”
The Irish this season are capable of scoring throughout the lineup in big meets, depth that gives them what McGinley said is possibly their best dual-meet team in program history.
“I would rank them right up there with the best,” McGinley said. “That’s saying a lot.”
A look at the Irish’s top wrestlers through mid-January:
*Sophomore Evan Dickey, 106 pounds: No. 4 ranking in the New Castle semistate.
*Sophomore Zeke Seltzer, 120 pounds: No. 1 in the semistate.
*Sophomore Luke Gonzalez, 126 pounds: No. 3 in the semistate.
*Junior Andrew Wilson, 132 pounds: No. 4 in the semistate.
*Senior Logan Bailey, 138 pounds: No. 1 in the semistate.
*Senior Garrett Stewart, 145 pounds: No. 8 in the semistate.
*Junior Ulrik Urasky, 152 pounds: No. 8 in the semistate.
*Senior Elliott Rodgers, 160 pounds: No. 1 in the semistate.
*Senior Tyler Wagner, 170 pounds: No. 1 in the semistate.
*Junior Johnny Parker, 182 pounds: No. 2 in the semistate.
*Senior Jacob Huffman, 195 pounds: No. 5 in the semistate.
*Junior David Guhl, 220 pounds: No. 2 in the semistate.
*Senior Holden Parsons, 285 pounds: No. 2 in the semistate.
“It’s one of those teams where we have some exceptional kids, then we’ve got a lot of guys who are grinders and who are great team guys,” McGinley said. “That’s what makes us such strong dual-meet team.
“It’s a typical Cathedral mix: Several seniors, juniors, sophomore, freshmen. We have quite a few seniors this year, but it’s a fair amount in every class. It’s a good thing to not have a total rebuild every year.”
Seltzer at 120 pounds is perhaps the Irish’s top wrestler this season. Nationally-ranked, Seltzer according to McGinley has stepped up to another level this season after finishing as the state runner-up at 113 pounds last season.
“He’s got a shot to be one of the all-time best at Cathedral High School,” McGinley said. “He’s exceptional. He’s so good at all aspects, whether he’s on top, or on feet, neutral or on bottom. He’s an exceptional wrestler.”
Rodgers, the defending state champion at 152 pounds, finished as the state runner-up at 152 pounds as a sophomore and finished fourth at the state at 145 pounds as a freshman.
“We plan on him being right there when it comes down to it at the end of his senior year,” McGinley said.
Bailey, like Seltzer No. 1 in the state and semistate entering mid-January, according to McGinley is one of the team’s most-improved wrestlers.
“He was always an exceptional feet and on defense, and he has improved his offense this season,” McGinley said of Bailey, who beat then-state No. 1-ranked Blake Boarman of Evansville Mater Dei to secure the team duals title for Cathedral. “He’s really had a great summer. He’s putting his time in.”
The Irish won the state duals in January without Wilson, who remains out with an injury but who the team according to McGinley hopes can return by the postseason. That return would make an already balanced team even deeper.
“We’ve got a quality guy at pretty much every weight class, guys who can score points for us every night out,” he said. “It just makes a difference.”
That depth showed through at the state duals, a meet that employs the “dual-match” format once used by the IHSAA state tournament. That was an important victory because it showed the strength of the Irish throughout the lineup, and McGinley said winning the meet was a team goal this season.
“But our major goal obviously is the IHSAA individual state championship at the end of the year,” he said. “We’re right on track to be one of the few teams [competing]. There are usually three or four teams that can win it, and it’s the same this year. I think there are four teams that have legitimate shots and we’re one of them.
“We’ve been tested already, and as the kids know: How we wrestle now is not going to be good enough come February. They know they have to still put the time in. We’ve got to get better and win every close mach. That’s the hard work and mental toughness when it comes to tournament time. I look where we’re at and I’m excited.”