“An Embarrassment of Riches”
The 2021 Walsh Jesuit Wrestling Tournament is upon us after 2020 canceled the toughest two days in high school wrestling. With the fans back in attendance and the wrestlers finally taking the mat in this ultra-competitive event, expect fireworks as usual in the wrestling venues of the Walsh Jesuit Dome and the Ricco Fieldhouse.
Tournament Team Director Corey Haddad was challenged to repeat the quality of the 2019 tournament and he more than did so by inviting a plethora of talent that will equal and perhaps exceed any previous Ironman. Haddad has selected 585 wrestlers from 23 states with 29 full teams in the fold. Among the full teams who won their respective state championships: Pennsylvania-AAA Waynesburg and AA Notre Dame. Waynesburg also won the Pennsylvania team Duals title; West Virginia-Parkersburg South; Oklahoma-Stillwater; Ohio-St. Edward (Division 1), St. Paris Graham (Division 2), Legacy Christian (Division 3). Along with the championship teams, National Prep Champs Malvern Prep will also compete.
The early sessions will be split into two separate sessions. Wrestling begins on Thursday December 10th and will run all day. Quarter final matches will be wrestled Friday night. The quality of the quarterfinal matches this year will be the equivalent to many states’ championship tournaments.
Then sheer madness begins on Saturday! Everything else remains the same for the Saturday sessions. All consolations begin at 10 a.m. Championship semi-finals will begin at 11:45. The 7th place matches will be wrestled at the end of the morning session. Championship matches begin at 4 p.m. with the 1st/3rd/5th place bouts.
Defending team champion Wyoming Seminary (PA) is the team favorite and will be heavily favored to win the team title and could surpass St. Edward’s 297 record of points scored in 1997. Previously coached by Scott Green, former Christian Brothers (St. Louis) coach Cornell Robinson has been named as his replacement. Along with the coach there will be familiar faces on Sem’s roster but also some new champions to the fold as well. Malvern Prep (PA) figures to be Sem’s closest challenger because of its strength in the upper weights. The Friars tentative lineup will include Jack Wehmeyer-175 (3 rd -160-2019), Nick Feldman-220 (2 nd -195-2019). As always strong full teams should be Blair Academy, St. Edward, Montini Catholic, St. Paris Graham, Lake Highland Prep.
Individual wrestlers with strong past and pre-season tournament include World Cadet Champion Meyer Shapiro (145-SEM), Super 32 Champions Nick Bouzakis (132-SEM, 2019 Ironman Champion, 6 th -2018), World Cadet (2 nd -) Luke Lilledahl (113-Sem), Rylan Rogers (Coeur D’Alene-195, 2019 Ironman Champion-182). Marc-Anthony McGowan (Blair Academy) returns as the 106 Champion in 2019.
Haddad also secured the talented James Rowley (Crescent Valley, OR), TJ Stewart (Blair Academy), Dylan Fishback (Aurora, OH), and Rocco Welsh (Waynesburg, PA) Let’s review the top ranked 14 weight classes (as any Ironman fan knows this is subject to change,) including revised wights at 144-150-157-165-175-190-215.
106-Nathan Desmond (BECA), Beric Jordan (St. Paris Graham), 113-Leo DeLuca (Blair Academy), Codie Cuerbo (Aurora, OH), 120-Dillon Campbell (Legacy Christian, OH),126-Gabe Whisenhut (Crescent Valley, OR), Braden Basile (Tampa Jesuit, FL), 132-Danny Nini (Lake Highland Prep, FL), 138-Ty Kasak (BECA), Tom Crook (Tampa Jesuit), 144-Richie Fedalen (McDonogh, MD), Will Henckel (Blair Academy), Gavin Brown (Legacy Christian, OH),150-Angelo Ferrari (Stillwater, OK), Danny Wask (Blair Academy), 175-Brayden Thompson (Montini, IL), Luke Geog (St. Edward, OH), Hunter Lyden (Stillwater, OK), Tyler Lillard (Wyoming Seminary, PA),190- Hayden Walters (Crescent Valley, OR), Brody Conley (Tiffin, OH), 215-Kolby Franklin (Wyoming Seminary, PA).
You won’t want to miss the action being offered at 175 and 190. The nation’s top ranked wrestlers at 175 and 190 are entered: Gabe Arnold (Wyoming Seminary), Rocco Welsh (Waynesburg), James Rowley (Crescent Valley), Luke Geog (St. Edward), Rune Lawrence (Frazier), Brody Conley (Tiffin Columbian), Jack Wehmeyer (Malvern Prep). Perhaps the tournament’s most competitive weight class will be at 190 where we will see Dylan Fishback (Aurora), TJ Stewart (Blair Academy), Rylan Rogers (2019 Ironman Champion-Coeur D’Alene), Jersey Robb (Bixby), David Harper (Baylor). 285-Nick Feldman, (National Prep Champion and 2019 Ironman runner-up) is the nation’s top ranked heavyweight.
This article is presented to the country’s best high school wrestling fans by John Mascio, Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament Information Director. Photo’s courtesy of Sam Janicki and Robert Preston.