Wheeling Jesuit matmen fall in home debut

WHEELING – Everything except one thing about the first home dual wrestling match in school history went just as Sean Doyle envisioned.

The stands of the Alma Grace McDonough Center on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University were packed, the atmosphere was wild and the matches were competitive and entertaining.

The only thing missing for Wheeling Jesuit was the victory. The Cardinals were dealt a tough 22-21 setback to Alma College from Michigan Friday night.

“The goal tonight was probably reached in terms of what we’ve created here,” Doyle said. “It was electric and a great atmosphere, but (on the mat), we have a lot to learn.”

The Cardinals looked to be in command, losing just one of the first five matches contested.

Included was a hard-earned 5-4 victory by University High graduate Scott Lopez against Danny Martinez at 133 pounds. Lopez prevailed via riding time by a 5-4 count.

Jesuit’s Dominick Nania posted a pin in the first 30 seconds of his 157-pound match against Caleb Huff to extend the Cardinals lead to 15-3.

“All of those matches in the lighter weights we could have lost, but we won them on heart,” Doyle noted. “Our 141 pounder (Skyler Terrell) really sucked it up and gave us a lift. He’s a captain, so we expect that.”

However, Jesuit gave the fall – and momentum – right back to Alma at 165 pounds when T.J. Smith was pinned at the 1:13 mark by Matt Tuttle.

“You can tell that Alma has has more experience in some positions,” Doyle said. “The effort was certainly there, which I am happy with. Our guys wrestled hard.”

Jesuit dropped a heartbreaker at 174 pounds. Cambridge High product Sawyer Leppla dropped a 6-4 decision in sudden-death overtime.

“We lost that match, probably based on solely off of needing to be a little bit smarter in the overtime period,” Doyle said. “I thought we had that match under control, but we have to be a little bit smarter.”

Maxwell Lacey was dealt a 10-0 major decision setback at 197, which mathematically clinched the dual for Alma, which is coached by Jefferson Union graduate Todd Hibbs.

The Cardinals don’t have much time to feel sorry for themselves because they’re competing in an event at Washington & Jefferson this morning.

“The guys need to realize this is a process,” Doyle said. “We always talk about that. It’s about maturity, growing up and some of these guys will have to do it quickly. Some guys are going to have to shed some weight and they’re upset.”