The season happened, and Irish wrestling took full advantage of the opportunity.
That meant an impressive performance at the state meet – despite difficult circumstances and plenty of obstacles – and Cathedral High School wrestling coach Sean McGinley said that made the 2020-2021 season memorable.
“We were fortunate to have a season, and that made it a successful season,” McGinley said.
Junior Zeke Seltzer won a second state title in as many years, and five other Irish wrestlers turned in strong performances for a fifth-place finish at the 2021 Indiana High School Athletic Association State Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 20, 2021.
Seltzer, one of the nation’s top wrestlers at 126 pounds, went undefeated with a record of 33-0 and was dominant all season. He won a 9-3 decision over Cheaney Schoeff of Avon in the championship match at the state finals.
“We rode him all season,” McGinley said.
The Irish finished fifth with 84 points behind state champion Evansville Mater Dei (112.0), Chesterton (107.0), Perry Meridian (97.0) and Crown Point (88.0).
“Most years, that might win it for you – or it’s at least second,” McGinley said of the 84 points at the state finals. “It’s one of those years when five teams scored over 80, which is unheard of.”
Wrestling in 2020-2021 dealt with the obstacles of COVID-19 – with multiple matches canceled or rescheduled and distancing requirements altering practice schedules and practice approach.
“I credit the assistant coaches, keeping the kids positive – and the kids taking responsibility and saying, ‘Hey, this is the only way we can do it and the only way we could have a season,’’’ McGinley said.
The Irish won the Sectional 20 title at Arsenal Technical with 335 points ahead of runner-up Fortville Mount Vernon (214.0), then won the Regional 10 title at Pendleton Heights with 239.5 points ahead of Mount Vernon (88.0). They finished second at the New Castle Semi State with 135.0 points behind Perry Meridian (148.0).
“We didn’t leave much out there,” McGinley said. “You always hope for a little more, but we wrestled about as well as we could. It was a good year from sectionals through the whole tournament.
“Sometimes you just get beat by better guys. That was the case.”
A look at Irish wrestling in ’20-’21:
*Junior Evan Dickey (29-3) qualified for the state finals at 106 pounds, losing in the title match to Ashton Jackson of LaPorte (8-2 decision). Dickey won sectional, regional and semi-state titles. “He is totally the kid to model your wrestler off, it’s Evan Dickey,” McGinley said.
*Sophomore Aden Reyes (19-6) qualified for the semi-state tournament at 113 pounds, winning sectional and regional titles.
*Freshman Dillon Graham (28-6) qualified for the state finals at 120 pounds, losing to state champion Sergio Lemley of Chesterton (15-3 major decision) in the semifinal. Graham won sectional, regional and semi-state titles. “He just kept chugging along all year and kept getting better and better,” McGinley said.
*Seltzer (33-0) in addition to the state title won sectional, regional and semi-state titles. “He pushes himself to limits in practice,” McGinley said. “He probably got pushed more in practice than in matches. He put the time in.”
*Sophomore Jackson Edwards (11-11) qualified for the semi-state tournament at 132 pounds.
*Junior Luke Gonzalez (19-6) qualified for the semi-state tournament at 138 pounds, winning the sectional title.
*Junior JJ Braun (17-10) qualified for the semi-state tournament at 145 pounds, winning the sectional title.
*Sophomore Gabe Bragg (5-18) made the sectional final.
*Senior Andrew Wilson (28-5) qualified for the state finals at 160 pounds, losing to state champion Broderick Baumann of Evansville Mater Dei (14-5 decision) in the semifinal. Wilson, who missed much of his junior season because of injury, won sectional and regional titles – and finished second in the semi-state tournament. “He went from 132 as a junior to 160 as a senior,” McGinley said. “He really developed his style of wrestling and it worked out well for him. He battled the whole year.”
*Senior Ulrik Urasky (27-4) qualified for the state finals at 170 pounds, losing to state runner-up senior Samuel Morrill of Columbus East (7-5 decision) in the semifinal. Urasky won sectional and regional titles, and finished third at the semi-state tournament. Urasky, who finished third at state with an 8-4 decision over Perry Meridian senior JaJuan Dale, entered the Irish program as an eighth-grader with little experience and wrestled jayvee a freshman and sophomore. “He was right there,” McGinley said. “If not for a questionable call in the semifinals, he might have been wrestling in the state finals – which is unheard of considering where he started. He was a Cathedral kid and bought in. Those are the kids you feel so special for. He worked his butt off and it was a joy to see.”
*Junior Grayson Harvey (16-11) qualified for the semi-state tournament at 182 pounds, winning sectional and regional titles.
*Senior Johnny Parker (25-5) qualified for the state finals at 195 pounds, losing in the first round to Gage DeMarco of Chesterton (4-1 decision). Parker won sectional and regional titles, and finished second in the semi-state tournament – and wrestled at 195 rather than 182 this season as a coach’s decision. “He was a total team player,” McGinley said. “He wanted to do whatever he thought was best for the team. He competed.”
*Senior David Guhl (23-2) qualified for the semi-state tournament at 220 pounds, winning sectional and regional titles. Guhl’s father wrestled with McGinley at Cathedral, and his uncles and brothers also have wrestled with the program. “A Guhl has really been the anchor of the wrestling program at Cathedral the last nine or 10 years,” McGinley said. “It’s going to be a sad sight when we go out there without a Guhl. They’re fierce competitors and David Guhl gave it all this year. He knows he worked his butt off.”
And McGinley said despite the loss of four senior state qualifiers, the future for a program that won state titles from 2018-2020 remains bright.
“We’re going to lean heavy on Evan Dickey and Zeke Seltzer,” McGinley said. “But we have a lot of kids who have a chance to be successful. We need juniors and sophomores to step up and not just be part of the program, but to succeed. I like where we stand as a team. Guys will put the time in. Look for Cathedral to be right there next year.”