Cardinal entered the Jackson Milton Invitational Tournament on Saturday without three seniors but still turned in a strong showing.
Two Huskies—junior Mason Lustig and freshman Ryan Shanower—finished among the top four in their respective weight classes and several others stepped up with impressive performances.
“We had three seniors out of the lineup so we were young,” said Cardinal coach Jeff Zeigler. “I had four or five guys in position to place and our semifinals and consolation semifinals round, we just kept falling short. These are JV guys wrestling in the varsity lineup and they did a decent job. I can't fault them.”
Lustig finished second at 145 pounds.
He drew a bye in the first round then pinned Girard’s Nate Mohn and Pymatuning Valley’s Kenny Crouch to reach the championship bout, where he fell to Rootstown’s Tyler Jenkins, a district qualifier last season.
“He had a really nice tournament,” Zeigler said. “I looked to Mason and I told him I was looking for him to step up and be a leader. We basically had next year's team without the seniors, so he really needed to step it up and he did. He wrestled a great tournament and had a really good semifinals match. He wrestled a tough kid in the finals but he did a nice job. He was encouraging and coaching the other kids. He really stepped it up.”
Shanower’s impressive freshman season continued with a fourth place finish at 113 pounds.
“He has placed at every tournament so far,” Zeigler said. “I can't say enough about Ryan and how he's doing this year. He's one of the hardest workers in the room. He works hard all the time. He's in the mix of things.”
He suffered his first loss of the tournament in the semifinals but rebounded with a pin to advance to the third place match, where he suffered a loss to Jackson Milton’s Jeremy Seka.
“I really think he should be a 106-pounder but he didn't pinch out there (in preseason weight testing),” Zeigler said. “He always seems to get in the finals matches and he looks really undersized. He lost to Seka from Jackson-Milton to place fourth.”
Logan Lustig (106) and Mike Lucarelli (120) didn’t place but they wrestled well in the consolation rounds.
“Logan lost in the consolation semifinals by a point. It was a tough match for him to lose. He was winning the match almost the whole time and gave up some back points,” Zeigler said. “Lucarelli made it all the way to the championship semis and lost to (Dalton) Leightner from Rootstown (seventh in the state last year), who is a tough kid. He dropped down (to the consolation semifinals) and was winning the whole match and gave up some back points and lost 5-4 to (Joe) Canter from Waterloo. He was the better wrestler in that match but it just didn't show in the final score.”
A pair of JV wrestlers stepped in to fill two varsity spots and impressed their coach.
Nathan Metheny (126) and Paul Byler (138) bumped up from their normal weight classes and each won a pair of matches.
“Nathan is a 120-pounder but stepped up to 126 to cover the varsity spot. He lost his first match then wrestled back and won two in a row for us in the consolation then lost in the consolation semifinals to the eventual fourth place finisher. He lost to a tournament placer, so not a bad finish for him. He had a couple nice victories,” Zeigler said. “Byler is probably going to bounce in and out of the lineup. He stepped into a tough weight class and lost his first match and came back and won two in a row. He lost to the eventual fourth place winner also, very similar to Metheny.”
Cardinal travels to the Berkshire Duals on Saturday.