The Ben Lippen Falcons chanted “DYNASTY” after beating the Cardinal Newman Cardinals 59-21 in the SCISA Wrestling State Championship Match Saturday, February 4. The Falcons have been to the title match the last four years, and they’ve won the last three certainly making their case for that lofty status.
“It’s been a beautiful season,” said Ben Lippen head coach Wes Hester. “We’ve experienced a little pain, a little loss here and there, but we’re happy, so it means a lot to us. It’s been a good season.”
Although the Cardinals have been out of the mix for a few years, their run of nine titles in ten seasons from 2009-2018 could qualify them as the last dynasty in SCISA wrestling prior to the rise of Ben Lippen. But the Falcons are clearly the class of SCISA right now, and they proved it again on Saturday taking nine of the 13 contested matches, all but one by pin. The other one was by technical fall.
“I know our guys were fired up,” Hester said of his team’s motivation. “Some of our guys went to their match (Cardinal Newman’s semifinal win against John Paul II) the other night. They got pretty fired up, so we were excited.”“
Cardinal Newman got on the board first as Aiden Canaday built a 12-5 lead on Ben Lippen 113 Matthew Coleridge before getting a pin with 23 seconds left in the second period.
The Cardinals forfeited at 120, and then Jason Wagner caught William Fitts in a cradle and pinned him with 1:17 left in the first period to give Cardinal Newman a 12-6 lead.
That was followed by a three-period battle at 132 as Decha Dawson built a 4-2 lead early in the second period on Ben Lippen’s Stone Porter. Porter then controlled the rest of the match but could not score as Dawson held on, and the Cardinals led 15-6.
Tanner Carson got the Falcons’ first contested win as he built leads of 5-0 and 13-1 in the first two periods on Cardinal Newman 138 Mac Thames. Carson got a couple more takedowns to earn a technical fall with a 17-2 victory to cut the Ben Lippen deficit to 15-11.
Then came the match of the day at 145. Cardinal Newman’s Troy Seal took a 5-0 first period lead on Ben Lippen’s Braden Marye. Marye came back with an escape and a takedown, but Seal got an escape of his own to lead 6-3 after two. Marye got a near fall to start the third before Seal escaped once more. Marye nearly pinned Seal again, but Seal was able to wiggle free before Marye finally got a pin with 3.7 seconds left in the match. The win gave the Falcons a lead they would not surrender.
“I have to give all the glory to God,” Marye said of his match. “I wouldn’t be here without all the gifts that he’s given me. Something I take pride in is I may not be the most genetically gifted, but I tell you what, I’m the hardest worker. All the obstacles that I’ve faced—I use them as fuel, and I use them to work the hardest so I can have moments like this.”
Ben Lippen 152 Zack McDougald followed with a first period pin of Hamilton Moore, and Harrison Jones was able to fight off a 6-3 first period deficit, get a reversal, and then pin A.J. Reyes with 50.7 seconds left in the second period to set Ben Lippen’s lead at 29-15.
Cardinal Newman 170 David Rogers built a 9-2 first period lead on Drake Porter, but Porter came back in the second to pin Rogers. Then Ben Lippen 182 Burton Brewer fell behind 2-1 in the first to Braxton Rogers, but he was able to catch Rogers in a cradle and pin him with 41.4 seconds left in the second.
Colin Wilkinson got the Cardinals back on the board and cut the Ben Lippen advantage to 41-21 by breaking a 3-3 tie with a pin of Geoffrey Hunt 40 seconds into the third period of their 195 match.
Ben Lippen 220 Austin Huff followed with a first period pin of Sam Blake, and then Nate Cole pinned Cardinal Newman 285 Whenston McCleod 45 seconds into their match.
In the final contest of the day, Ben Lippen 106 Sam Kip pinned Owen Tyre at the 1:40 mark of the first period.
“My senior leadership really stepped up today,” Hester said. “They’ve been in everybody’s ear the last couple days making sure everybody stays motivated and focused. Definitely a big shoutout to my senior leadership. Real good group of guys.”
Despite this loss to the Falcons, the Cardinals have reason for optimism.
“We return 11 of 14 starters who were in the everyday lineup,” Cardinal Newman head coach Cole McCarter said. “We return several who made appearances throughout the season. Overall we will bring back around 30 kids who spent time in the room this last season.”
The Falcons aren’t going away either. They will graduate seven seniors from this team, four of which ( Tanner Carson, McDougald, Brewer, and Cole) won their contests in this state championship match. However, plenty of experience returns along with a host of young talent waiting in the wings, which led Hester to ponder the possibility of a fourth consecutive title with a wry smile on his face.
“…Think we’ve got a good chance.”