The potential is there, as usual.
And while that’s pretty much all that’s normal about this season, Cathedral High School wrestling coach Sean McGinley said he feels good about the perennially strong program entering 2020-2021.
The Irish – who have won the last three Indiana High School Athletic Association state titles – yet again have a strong team that can compete in the postseason. But McGinley said the key for the Irish – and for every wrestling team in Indiana – may be navigating the season through winter months amid COVID-19 protocols.
“It's going to be a learning process as we go along every day because every day is different,” McGinley said.
The Irish, who won last year’s team state title as well as the 2019, 2018 and 2014 state titles, went 6-1 in through mid-December and feature in 2020-2021 a strong lineup led by junior Zeke Seltzer.
Seltzer, one of the nation’s top wrestlers in his weight class, continues on pace to be one of the top wrestlers in not only Cathedral history but in the history of high school wrestling in Central Indiana. He placed second in the state as a freshman then won the 120-pound title as a sophomore last season.
He is currently ranked No. 1 in the state at 126 pounds.
“He’s going to lead the team and we’re going to rely heavily on him,” McGinley said. “He’s a leader out there. “He’s a big-time recruit. When it’s all said and done, he’ll be mentioned with the best – not just in Cathedral, but Indiana, too.”
Also leading the Irish this season:
*Evan Dickey, junior, No. 1 in the state at 106 pounds in December and a state qualifier at 106 pounds last season. “We think he can make some big noise at the state tournament,” McGinley said.
*Andrew Wilson, senior, No. 6 in the state at 160 pounds. He has beaten two ranked opponents this season – including the No. 3 and No. 7 wrestlers at 160 pounds – and has state-tournament scoring potential.
*Ulrick Urasky, senior, No. 6 in the state at 170 pounds. Urasky entered the Cathedral program with comparatively little experience and after working throughout his career, McGinley said he has chance to contribute at the state level. “He’s going to surprise some people this year,” McGinley said.
*Johnny Parker, senior, No. 4 in the state at 182 pounds and a returning state qualifier at 182 pounds who was sick during the state tournament last season. “He’s hungry and eager,” McGinley said. “He could make a run.”
*David Guhl, senior, No. 4 in the state at 220 pounds. McGinley said Guhl has potential to be a factor in the state tournament.
While those wrestlers form the core, McGinley said depth and solid performances from the entire roster will be critical come the postseason.
“You hope some younger kids can sneak in there, as we’ve been fortunate enough to do [in previous seasons, and get us some points at the end,” McGinley said. “Hopefully it's the same old story that at the end of the year people are talking about us and we have a chance.”
The challenge for McGinley and the entire program: navigating the season amid COVID-19, a tricky proposition for all sports and particularly for the close-contact sport of wrestling.
The annual early-season Cathedral tournament, typically a six-way event, was reduced to four teams. McGinley said many other six-team meets are being similarly reduced. He also said few individual holiday tournaments will be held as schools and officials try to minimize COVID-19 exposure.
McGinley said in that sense the Irish had a solid first weekend at their first big match of the year – the Cathedral tournament that turned into a four-way meet. The Irish at that match wrestled well, according to McGinley. Cathedral beat Avon and Greenfield-Central there – and also lost, 33-32, to perennially tough Warren Central.
“Any time you get a match you have to make sure it’s quality,” McGinley said. “That was a quality first weekend. “We’re looking more for quality matches this year than quantity -- just trying to do whatever the can to keep everybody safe and keep the season going.”
McGinley said COVID-19 has made preparation and practice difficult. The Irish began the season working in groups of four, then shifted to one-on-one practices.
“It makes practices a lot tougher,” he said. “We can't do a lot of things that we normally would do. You just hope that in the end they'll be prepared enough, but you do what you have to do to try to have a season. We’re running practices totally different. The schedule’s different. Usually, you have a set routine of how you do it – when you push guys and when you back off.
“Our big goal is just to have a season, honestly. It has to be a team thing of everyone doing the right thing, from the kids to the coaches to the parents. Everyone has to be on board and hopefully we can have a full season.”