WEST LIBERTY - It was a red-letter day for Wheeling Jesuit wrestling.
Not only did the first-year program win its first event, the West Virginia College Wrestling Invitational at the ASRC at West Liberty, the team exorcised some demons of the recent past.
"It's huge to claim our first Invitational victory and to rebound after losing to West Liberty last week," Coach Sean Doyle said. "Our guys are working hard and its nice for them to see some results on the mat.
Wheeling Jesuit’s Jacob Haynes grapples with Ohio Valley’s Kobina Henriques during action of the West Virginia College Wrestling Invitational.
Wheeling Jesuit had three individual champions at the event, where it edged homestanding West Liberty 132.5 to 131.5.
Former University standout Scott Lopez won the 133-pound division with an 8-4 decision against West Liberty's Bryce Gainer, Martins Ferry product Damon Outward took the 141-pound division with a pin of West Liberty's Dillon Nolte and Ryan Winslow won at 184 pounds with a pin of Tola Morakinyo of West Virginia University Tech.
West Liberty led the way with four individual champions in the invite, which was open to West Virginia college wrestling programs.
Daniel Carpenter won at 149 (a 13-9 decision against Ohio Valley's Nick Varazashvili), Eric Antesberger won the 174-pound division (with a 6-2 decision against Wheeling Jesuit's Sawyer Leppla), Danny Doyle won the 197 class (a 3-2 decision against Maxwell Lacey of Wheeling Jesuit) and Aaron Silverio won at 285 (with a 3-0 decision against Corey Siegfried of Wheeling Jesuit ).
The day belonged to the Cardinals, who made their mark in early rounds.
"We redeemed some losses from earlier in the year and our guys got a lot of bonus points from pins and major decisions," Doyle said. "It was just an ultimate team effort by our guys."
West Virginia Tech finished third (81 points), followed by Alderson-Broaddus (73), Ohio Valley (71.5) and a team from WVU (65.5).
"To be able to complete against our state rivals, and come out with a win, I couldn't be more proud of our guys," Doyle said. "We have a team of all freshmen and one transfer starting for us. I told our guys when we started this that we are setting the bar high. We are going to be a Top-20 team, a Top-10 team, and we are going to do it fast.
"We had a goal of winning this event and we thought we were going to do it. We are trying to build a competitive edge for the regional tournament in four weeks and this is a huge step in the right direction as far as reaching that goal."
It also adds another sport to the Wheeling Jesuit-West Liberty rivalry.
"We want to elevate the rivalry to the level of our other sports," Doyle said. "The rivalry is definitely alive."