Walsh Jesuit Ironman wrestling tournament – the best in the country!
by Josh Lowe, Intermat
Regardless of which wrestling media outlet or pundit you ask, the opinion is virtually unanimous: The Walsh Jesuit Ironman is the nation’s best regular season high school wrestling tournament. In its 24th edition, the field of teams and individuals present crystalizes that assertion. Out of the nation’s top 50 teams as per the pre-season Fab 50 national team rankings published by InterMat, 21 are in the field, highlighted by ten of the top 15 teams nationally, including No. 1 in the nation Blair Academy (N.J.)
Furthermore, it is likely that just over one quarter of the wrestlers ranked nationally in their respective weight class in the pre-season rankings will be on the brackets at this tournament. This includes three wrestlers ranked first in the country at their respective weight classes: Jacob Decatur (CVCA, Ohio) at 106 pounds, returning Ironman runner-up Joey Silva (Lake Highland Prep, Fla.) at 132, and 2015 Ironman champion David Carr (Massillon Perry, Ohio) at 160. Seven others are ranked second nationally at their weight class: Isaac Salas (St. John Bosco, Calif.) at 106, returning Ironman champion Julian Tagg (Brecksville, Ohio) at 113, 2014 Ironman champion Mitch Moore (St. Paris Graham, Ohio) at 138, Will Lewan (Montini Catholic, Ill.) at 152, Jaden Mattox (Grove City Central Crossing, Ohio) at 160, Ironman champion Michael Beard (Malvern Prep, Pa.) at 195, and Seth Nevills (Clovis, Calif.) at 285.
Carr, Julian Tagg, Moore, and Beard headline the eight previous champions slated to compete in this event. Others include Gabriel Tagg (Brecksville, Ohio), Nate Keaton (Circleville, Ohio), Beau Bartlett (Wyoming Seminary, Pa.), and Real Woods (Montini Catholic, Ill.). There are twelve previous runners-up slated to compete in this event, excluding previous champions Carr and Moore. That group is led by Silva and Lewan, as well as two-time runners-up Cole Matthews (Reynolds, Pa.) and Cohlton Schultz (Ponderosa, Colo.). Others include Lucas Byrd (Cincinnati LaSalle, Ohio), Jesse Vasquez (Santiago Corona, Calif.), Dylan D’Emilio (Genoa, Ohio), Ryan Anderson (Bethlehem Catholic, Pa.), Josiah Rider (Grand Junction, Colo.), Rocky Jordan (St. Paris Graham, Ohio), Andrew Merola (Blair Academy, N.J.), and Ryan Karoly (Malvern Prep, Pa.).
Looking at the team battle, No. 1 in the nation – and defending tournament champions – Blair Academy (N.J.) seeks to win this tournament for the 14th time. The Buccaneers have eight ranked wrestlers in the pre-season national rankings published by InterMat. 2015 champion Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) enters the season ranked No. 2 in the nation, while 2014 tournament champion St. Paris Graham (Ohio) is ranked No. 5 nationally. The other top five team in this field is No. 4 Montini Catholic (Ill.), while Malvern Prep (Pa.), Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), and St. Edward (Ohio) are also top ten teams nationally.
All weight classes but for 285 pounds feature at least four ranked wrestlers, though the 285 pound class features wrestlers that are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 nationally. Most will feature between five and eight ranked wrestlers, which means that competition throughout the event should be fierce. Making the finals on Saturday night will be a true accomplishment, as will making it onto the placement podium with a top eight placement. Wrestlers earning placement will have navigated high quality brackets, featuring many nationally ranked wrestlers, as well as state champions and state medalists.