They focused on the present. Always.
Because they did, and largely because of a memorable Saturday morning, the 2019-2020 Cathedral High School wrestling team made history.
Sophomore Zeke Seltzer and senior Holden Parsons won individual state titles, and clutch performances by multiple wrestlers helped the Irish win the 2020 Indiana High School Athletic Association State Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 22, 2020.
It was the Irish’s third consecutive state title and fourth in six years, and Irish coach Sean McGinley said focusing on the task at hand rather than history was key.
“They were focused on the day,” McGinley said. “It’s about these guys right now. It says a lot about the program; it says we’re not a one-hit wonder. It says a lot about the program and where we stand.”
The Irish, who also won sectional, regional and semi-state titles in ’19-‘20, won the state title with 102 points – ahead of strong, deep teams from Crown Point (93.5) and Evansville Mater Dei (85).
Seltzer (43-0) beat Westfield senior Carson Eldred by a 7-2 decision in the state final at 120 pounds, and Parsons (38-4) beat Hamilton Southeastern senior Andrew Irick in a 3-1 decision to win state at 285 pounds.
Senior Logan Bailey (second), senior Elliott Rodgers (third), senior Tyler Wagner (fourth) had strong state finishes, with sophomore Evan Dickey, junior Johnny Parker and sophomore Jacob Huffman also qualifying for the state tournament.
“Everything kind of fell into place the right way,” McGinley said. “We were definitely on paper not one of the favorites. We’ve been winning it as an underdogs. We kind of just keep the same philosophy we’ve kept the past three years.”
The Irish once again performed well on the first night of the state tournament – Friday – advancing five of eight state qualifiers. They then went 5-0 on Saturday morning to qualify five wrestlers for later rounds.
“That put us somewhat in the driver’s seat,” McGinley said. “Some of the other teams were knocking each other off. The next rounds we could kind of control our own destiny. We thought we could get three or four through to the finals, and that’s what we did.
“We can only control what we can do, and we thought if we did what we could, we would be right there. We did about as well as we possibly could. We left maybe a couple of placements and one bonus point out there, but we wrestled about as well as we could and got bonus points when we needed them.
“This was one of those days we did all we could, and it turned out to be enough.”
The Irish won the Sectional 20 title at Arsenal Technical with 305 points ahead of runner-up North Central (207.0), then won the Regional 10 title at Pendleton Heights with 255 points ahead of runner-up Mount Vernon Fortville (92.5). The Irish then won the New Castle Semi State with 150 points ahead of runner-up Warren Central (94.5).
A look at Irish wrestling in ’19-’20:
*Dickey (33-8) qualified for the state tournament at 106 pounds, losing in the first round to Bellmont sophomore Isaac Ruble in a 7-1 decision. Dickey won sectional and regional titles, finishing fourth at semi-state.
*Freshman Aden Reyes (20-17) wrestled at 113 pounds. He finished as the sectional and regional runner-up, losing in the first round at semi-state.
*Seltzer also won the sectional, regional and semi-state titles. “He’s a guy we leaned on all year,” McGInley said. “Not only did he dominate, he was scoring bonus points the whole time. He would get us started and everyone jumped on board. He’s phenomenal.”
*Sophomore Luke Gonzalez (28-10) wrestled at 126 pounds. He won the sectional title and finished third at the regional, losing in the second round at semi-state.
*Junior Andrew Wilson (6-3) wrestled at 132 pounds. He finished as the sectional and regional runner-up, losing in the second round at semi-state.
*Bailey (39-3) finished as the state runner-up at 138 pounds, losing a 6-3 decision to Mater Dei junior Blake Boarman. He won sectional and regional titles, finishing second at semi-state. “He fell a little short of his goal, but I was very proud of the way he handled himself and competed,” McGinley said. “He scored a lot of bonus points throughout the tournament.”
*Senior Garrett Stewart (24-15) wrestled at 145 pounds. He finished as the sectional runner-up and finished third at the regional, losing in the first round at semi-state.
*Junior Ulrik Urasky (23-15) wrestled at 152 pounds. He finished third in the sectional and the regional, losing in the first round at semi-state.
*Rodgers (41-4) finished third at state at 160 pounds, beating Prairie Heights senior Isiah Levitz with a fall at 2:08 in the third-place match while fighting through an ankle injury. “He was in pain, and that was huge bonus points to give us a little bit of a cushion,” McGinley said. Rodgers won sectional, regional and semi-state titles as a senior and won the 152-pound state title as a junior.
*Wagner (38-7) finished fourth at state at 170 pounds, losing the fourth-place match to Plymouth senior Graham Calhoun in a 6-1 decision. He finished as sectional runner-up and won the regional title and semi-state titles. “He had a great tournament,” McGinley said. “He was one call away from being in the final, but a fourth-place finish was awesome.”
*Parker (35-7) qualified for state at 182 pounds, losing in the first round to Jay County senior Mason Winner in a 1-0 decision. He won the sectional and regional titles, finishing third at semi-state.
*Huffman (29-12) qualified for state at 195 pounds, losing in the first round to Bellmont senior Caden Friedt in a fall at 2:18. He won the sectional and regional titles, finishing third at semi-state.
*Junior David Guhl (30-6) wrestled at 220 pounds. He finished third in the sectional and regional, losing in the first round at semi-state.
*Parsons also won the sectional and regional titles, finishing as the runner-up at semistate. He won his state title after the Irish clinched the team title, and McGinley said Parsons’ winning moment was among the season’s most memorable. “All the wrestlers were down on the mat at the Fieldhouse,” McGinley said. “When he won, the excitement of all the kids screaming, jumping up and down … we were already state champs, but it meant so much to the kids that he won the match. His pure excitement … that’s why you coach.”
Parsons’ moment capped yet another memorable season for the Irish, who return a core that McGinley said is good enough to keep the program strong moving forward.
“I believe it is,” McGinley said. “We can never rest. We wish we had more guys. But we’ve got some good, solid kids coming back and we have several good premiere kids we can lead on. We just hope some people hop onboard and want to be a part of it and step it up a notch.”