After defeating the homestanding Hammond Skyhawks 42-34 in a hard-fought match Wednesday, January 24, the Cardinal Newman Cardinals are favored to take home their first SCISA Wrestling State Championship since they won five straight titles from 2014 to 2018. The Cardinals will be the No. 1 seed going into next week’s SCISA State Duals.
In the match Wednesday, Hammond got a pin from Kirby Johns at 215 and an 8-2 decision at 120 from Angesom Ladd, but it was Cardinal Newman that held a 30-9 lead after pins by Braxton Rodgers at 190, Jack Laird at 285, Eli Lorang at 106, Matthew Soto at 113, and Jason Cooper Smythe at 126. The Skyhawks then turned to the meat of their lineup getting a major decision at 132 from Jaden Kline, a 7-6 win at 138 from Blaze Barnes, and pins at 144 and 150 from Luke Martin and Cobin Rabon, respectively, to cut their team deficit to 30-28.
Cardinal Newman’s Troy Seal stopped the Hammond run with a pin at 157, and Matthew Herrmann completed the scoring for the Cardinals with a pin at 165. Hammond 175 James Lay came back from a 9-2 deficit to send the Skyhawks out on a high note getting a pin with 48.6 seconds left in the second period to end the match.
“All week we kind of understood what Hammond had,” Cardinal Newman head coach Cole McCarter said. “Obviously they’ve got an incredible team. They’ve got a lot of talented wrestlers. We just pretty much knew that we were going to have to kind of get through that bulk of their order. We thought once we navigated that, we could win early and probably win late. So we talked about keeping our composure and just wrestling to Cardinal Newman ability and just keeping that momentum rolling whether we lose or win—just stay even, calm, and collected.”
The Cardinals fell 59-21 to three-time champion Ben Lippen in last year’s SCISA State Championship match. They were the No. 2 seed then. Hammond will have that honor this time.
McCarter has been building the Cardinal Newman program since 2018 win he took over as head coach. He is an alumnus of the school and is the winningest wrestler in Cardinal Newman history with 155 victories, two individual state titles, and four team titles. However, this No. 1 seed is a first for him as a coach.
“We’ve been working hard,” McCarter said of earning the top seed. “I think for our guys—knowing that we’re going to be at home, knowing that we kind of now have a little bit of a target on our back there because we are No. 1—I think we just wrestle better with a little bit of a chip on our shoulders and take the attitude of just never satisfied. I’m hoping that we just continue to wrestle well and put our best foot forward each day and get back in the room and get better.”