By STEVE KRAH
With a few exceptions, the cast of characters changed. But the plot was the same for Indianapolis Cathedral: Win Indiana’s high school wrestling team championship.
“You always want to set your expectations high,” said Irish head coach Sean McGinley. “We thought going in we had a legitimate shot to be very successful. We had several goals and one of our goals was to win a state title. We were able to accomplish that.”
Cathedral traveled across town to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and took the program’s third straight title and fourth overall Saturday, Feb. 22 at the 82nd annual IHSAA State Finals.
“I’ve said it before, Friday night is always key,” said McGinley after the latest hoisting of the state trophy. “Our goal is not a state championship, it’s to get through Friday night. That’s our state championship adage. We got five out of eight which gave us a chance. We thought we were still in it. Saturday morning was the big round for us. We went five for five with several kids getting bonus points. Bonus points probably made the difference. We were getting them but
(eventual runner-up) Crown Point and (third-place team Evansville) Mater Dei was also getting them.”
Two of the eight State Finals qualifiers in the 2020 field were finalists on Cathedral’s 2019 state title-winning squad.
“This year’s team was way different from last year,” said sophomore Zeke Seltzer, who won the 2020 crown at 120 pounds after placing second as a freshman at 113. “The only people we had returning to State was me and Elliot (Rogers). Logan (Bailey) was returning, but he didn’t make it last year.”
“We had some guys step up for sure.”
What was the difference between standing on the second step of the podium and the top for Seltzer?
“I’ve been working for this for a whole year now,” said Seltzer. “It feels great to finally get it.”
Rodgers was a state champion at 152 as a junior and finished third at 160 in 220 as a senior.
Five of eight Irish wrestlers in the field earned state placement in 2020. Besides Seltzer and Rodgers, senior Holden Parsons (285 pounds) was a champion, senior Bailey (138) a runner-up and senior Tyler Wagner (170) a fourth placer.
“For me it was my faith,” said Parsons. “God got me through it and made sure I wasn’t nervous and everything. My coaches were there for me in my corner. They knew what we needed to do. hey knew how to keep me calm.”
Parsons talked about the team approach to the season.
“We keep a constant pace,” said Parsons. “As it goes along, we start picking it up. During the postseason, we taper on and off. That just keeps our gas tanks up and our lungs burning so we’re ready to go 100 percent when it comes time to put the pedal to the metal.”
“Everybody knew we had to get bonus points to keep up with Crown Point. They are a great team. They had great wrestlers. They are phenomenally-coached.”
Senior Jacob Huffman (195), junior Johnny Parker (182) and sophomore Evan Dickey (106) competed Friday night but did not advance to Saturday.
It was an extra-big weekend for the Seltzer family. Not only were there the team and individual championships, assistant Brian Seltzer (Zeke’s father) was inducted into the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame the day after the State Finals.
When the Irish reigned over the IHSAA in 2019, seniors Jordan Slivka (first at 160), Alex Mosconi (second at 145) and Lukasz Walendzak (eighth at 126) were there along with Rodgers and Seltzer. At the 2018 State Finals, Cathedral was represented by junior Slivka (first at 145), sophomore Rodgers (second at 152), senior Zach Melloh (second at 138), junior Alex Mosconi (second at 132), sophomore Bailey (third at 106), junior Walendzak (fourth at 120), senior Jacob Obst (seventh at 285)senior Jacob Obst (seventh at 285) and qualifiers senior Anthony Mosconi (160), sophomore Caleb Oliver (113) and freshman Andrew Wilson (126).