Ben Lippen hosts the SCISA state championship wrestling meet on Saturday with action starting at 9 a.m. The championship and consolation finals will take place after a break for lunch.
Cardinal Newman is looking to keep alive its streak of four straight championships. Hammond, which won the first four SCISA titles (2005-08) is looking to return to the throne. The Cardinals and Skyhawks have finished either first or second at every independent schools championship gathering.
“We graduated 11 guys off last year’s team, so we’re young and the underdogs this go round, for sure,” said Cardinal Newman coach Eric Goff.
CN’s only loss to a SCISA foe was a recent nail-biter against Hammond, a match which saw the Skyhawks emerge with the win in the final bout of the night.
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“Practice this week has been intense,” said Goff. “I can tell our guys want to win. If nothing else, I know they’ll go out and give it their all.”
Cardinal Newman’s team leaders are seniors Nathan Hayes (138 pounds) and Matt Wilson (152). Hayes has two individual championships, including last year at 132, and one runner-up finish on the resume. Wilson is a two-time champ with the most recent triumph coming at 152 a year ago.
Hammond’s top hands are senior Matthew Kay (138) and sophomores Gantt (126) and Ray Castles (106). Kay has two gold and two silver medals in his collection, including the top prize at 138 last season. Gantt Castles already has three individual titles on the books, most recently at 113 a year ago. Ray Castles bagged his first championship at 106 last year.