Led by Kyle Simms, who finished second at 170 pounds, Cardinal finished in 11th place at the Northwestern Husky Invitational on Saturday in West Salem.
Smithville won the tournament with 191 ½ points followed by Coshocton (178 ½), Wellington (176), Northwestern (166 ½) and Mapleton (142 ½). Cardinal scored 87 points in the 18-team event.
“We talked pretty heavily the other day after (going 1-1 in the Independence double dual on Thursday),” said Cardinal coach Jeff Zeigler. “We changed up some things in their pregame warmup. Things wrestled really well until the finals and I think their tanks were on empty but they wrestled some really good kids in the finals. We competed hard and had much better attitudes.”
Simms pinned both of his opponents in the pool portion of the event then in the semifinals he stuck his third straight opponent. He lost to Keystone’s Justin Ocheltree, a 2015 district qualifier, in the championship bout.
“He had a good day,” Zeigler said of Simms. “He wrestled solid all day. He’s a terrific athlete. He just needs to decide this is something he wants to put his effort into. I think he saw that throughout the day he had a good shot at it and he really wrestled solid. That’s how we’ve been trying to get him to wrestle the last few weeks, just good solid basic wrestling and staying in good position and hitting moves. His wrestling on his feet was probably the most impressive. He had some beautiful takedowns; textbook stuff. He’s got it in him; we just have to get it out of him.”
Trent Mast finished third at 120 pounds but came one five-point move away from placing higher.
“He should have been in the finals,” Zeigler said. “He gave up seven points in the last minute of his semifinals match. He was spanking that kid and he got thrown to his back and with no time left he gave up a takedown, which was really questionable. He did a nice job though. He won in the finals, which was our only win in the finals, which was a plus.”
Mast held a 7-2 lead over Coshocton’s Kyle Bergeron before being put on his back. He escaped to take an 8-7 lead but gave up the two-point takedown as time ran out.
He rebounded with a 2-1 win over St. Paul’s Owen Starcher in the third place match.
Brandon Nevison and Brandon Neikirk both finished eighth for the Huskies.
Nevison was 3-0 in pool wrestling with two pins at 126 pounds.
“He had a good day again,” Zeigler said. “Brandon is really coming on. He got beat by a good kid. He won all of his pool matches and got into the championship bracket. He lost to good kids. He’s right there. His matches are close.”
Neikirk was in a loaded 145-pound weight class that featured defending state runner-up Derek Gross of St. Paul and two state alternates in Mapleton’s Ian Maund and Northwestern’s Kyle Cayse.
Maund beat Neikirk in the semifinals and Cayse got him in the third place match.
“I was real pleased with Brandon all day but I think he changed his style a little bit against some of those tougher guys,” Zeigler said. “He wrestled a little cautious instead of opening up like he did all day. He dominated all day. I told his parents he catches stuff that is kind of uncanny. I don’t know how he catches some stuff he catches. He’s so long and there’s no way you think he’s going to reach something and he comes out on top with arm bars or something. He’s really got some special talent. We just need to wrestle the tough guys the same way he wrestled all day. It was a good day for Brandon.”
Mason Lustig and Zane Drebus both finished eighth.
Lustig was 1-1 in pool wrestling at 132 pounds.
“He had another good day for a sophomore coming on,” Zeigler said. “I told him on the way home that I’m really pleased with where he’s at. Every week he improves and he’s hitting stuff on the mat that we’re showing. It’s starting to sink in with him and he’s starting to come into his own.”
The Huskies will compete in the Badger Duals at Berkshire on Saturday.