As it has for the past five years, the Cardinal Newman wrestling team reached the SCISA finals. This time around, Hammond made the Cardinals work harder to claim a championship.
Three key pins in the heavier matches gave the Cardinals a scare. But in the final match at the Ben Lippen gym Saturday afternoon, Declan Carroll pinned Henry Cole 1:29 into the match in the 285 class.
With that victory, the Cardinals clinched their fifth consecutive state championship with a 44-34 win against the Skyhawks.
“We pulled off a big one,” said Cardinal Newman coach Brian Bush, noting his team’s 42-41 win against the Skyhawks earlier in the season. “Most of our younger guys had to learn a lot, especially from that Hammond match. They came back super strong, and I’m really proud of them.”
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The Skyhawks gave the Cardinals fits throughout this year’s final.
Sam DuBose won his match for Hammond at 106, and Leo Addeo held off Dyllan Gorrin’s efforts to pin him at 113.
John Maddock pinned Harper Meacham at 120 for Cardinal Newman, but the Skyhawks won by forfeit at 126, evening the score at 10.
The Cardinals jumped to a 32-10 lead with Jose Gonzales’ win against Ryan Kane at 132, a Hammond forfeit at 138, Tyrique Wise’s pin of Logan Sheppard at 145, and another Hammond forfeit at 152.
From that point, Hammond’s bigger kids took over.
Cardinal Newman’s Matthew Skipper held a 4-2 lead on Jameson Phillips, but Phillips reversed a hold on him and pinned Skipper at the 1:01 mark of the second period.
Tristan Cox held a 6-2 advantage on Hammond’s Drew Turner going into the second period of their match at 170, but like his predecessor at 160, Turner reversed a hold and pinned Cox at the 1:25 mark.
Those pins cut the Cardinals’ lead to 32-22.
When Cardinal Newman’s Zenas Murphy had to forfeit his match with Owen Hales at 182 after sustaining an injury, Hammond trailed 32-28 going into the 195 match.
Cardinal Newman’s Andrew Morrison got a quick pin over Jake Lalumondier to hold off the Hammond surge.
“He had to fight a battle over injuries earlier in the year,” Bush said of Morrison. “He joined us late in the year, but he was a huge player for us this year. It was a massive win for us.”
Mills Clark pinned Tiv Sutherland at 220 to cut the Cardinals lead to 38-34, but Carroll’s pin clinched the title.
“We knew we would have a pretty good run there at the end,” Hammond coach Austin Hood said. “We ran into a bulldozer at the heavyweights, but we had a chance to win it, and I’m proud of the way we wrestled today.”
Morrison, who has wrestled on all five state championship teams, returns next year with the hope of capturing a sixth title.
“We just went out there and did the best we could,” Morrison said about his teammates. “We’ve had a lot of new talent, and next year I think we’ll be two times better.”
Earlier in the 5-team double-elimination tournament, Heathwood Hall defeated John Paul Catholic 40-21, and fell 43-34 to Hammond. Host team Ben Lippen beat John Paul Catholic 60-42, lost to Cardinal Newman 48-35.
Heathwood Hall then beat the Falcons 48-27 to capture third place.