By JEREMY HINES
It was the moment Cathedral’s Jordan Slivka had dreamed about his whole life. He was about to wrestle under the lights at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse with a weight-class and the team state championship on the line.
“Earlier in the day I had told my coaches that I knew it was going to come down to me,” Slivka said. “I just had that feeling. That’s not a dig on my teammates, but I just knew it was going to come down to me. That’s what I wanted. If there was anyone in the state that I would want in that position, I’d choose me.”
Slivka battled for six minutes with Yorktown’s undefeated senior Christian Hunt. In the end, Slivka emerged victorious in the narrowest of margins - a 1-0 victory. That win gave Slivka his first state title and also clinched the championship for Cathedral.
The Irish outscored the field with a total of 108 points. Brownsburg finished with 100.5 followed by Columbus East with 98.5.
“We knew the score and we knew Brownsburg had two big guns left,” Cathedral coach Sean McGinley said. “Slivka told me not to worry about it, he was going to take care of it. He said he’s going to get it done. He’s one of the most mentally tough kids I know, and at the end he pulled it out.”
The Irish sent 10 wrestlers to the state meet. On Friday night, seven of those 10 won their match to guarantee a top eight finish.
“I said at the beginning that our goal was to win a state championship,” McGinley said. “The only way we were going to win was by committee. We did. We brought 10 to the finals and then had a great Friday night. We had seven place winners. We battled and we won the close ones. We pulled a lot out in the last seconds and ended up on top.”
In the tournament Cathedral won seven matches by two points or less.
Perhaps the most pivotal match of the tournament came at 138 pounds when Cathedral’s Zach Melloh took on Brownsburg’s Blake Mulkey.
The match went to the ultimate tie breaker, after a controversial stalling call on Mulkey. Melloh eventually won the match 3-2.
“That was two teams going at it right there,” McGinley said. “The thing about Zach Melloh, he’s always going to give us six minutes no matter what. He pushes the pace. Sometimes you are going to get a call, and sometimes you don’t. We got the call in this one and took advantage of it and scored when we needed to.”
Cathedral had four wrestlers reach the final. Alex Mosconi (132 pounds), Mellow (138) and Elliott Rodgers (152) all earned runner-up finishes. Slivka was the Irish’s lone champ.
Cathedral also got a third-place finish out of 106-pounder Logan Bailey and a fourth by Lukasz Walendzak (120). Jacob Obst (285) finished seventh. Caleb Oliver (113), Andrew Wilson (126) and Anthony Mosconi (160) lost in their respective Friday night matches.
“All year we knew we had a group of kids that are really tough to beat,” McGinley said. “We knew we would have our hands full in the finals. The guys we were taking on were all very quality guys and great wrestlers. We were able to pull one out, but for us, it was all about committee. Everyone scored points for us when we needed them.”
Another key to Cathedral’s success, according to Slivka, was the team’s swagger.
“My motto is ‘Learn to love it’,” Slivka said. “You have to have fun in this sport or you’ll start to hate it. That was really the main key. We went out there and had fun all day. We were confident and we had swagger. I’m not sure coach cared for it too much, but it kept us relaxed and ready to get the job done.”
The title was Cathedral’s second in wrestling. The Irish also won the team title in 2014. Next season seven of the 10 state qualifiers will return. Only Melloh, Anthony Mosconi and Obst are seniors.
Edited by Y2CJ41