St. Mary’s will host the 53rd annual Monsignor Martin All-Catholic Wrestling Championships on Sunday. This year the Lancers will be there to do a whole lot more than just roll up the mats and fold chairs – they’re coming out to compete.
Not too long ago, that simply wasn’t the case. It is today.
Three seasons ago, St. Mary’s had just four wrestlers on the varsity team. That number grew to ten the next year, and nineteen last year. St. Mary’s is up to twenty-seven wrestlers on this roster this season. That has the Lancers excited about the postseason and even more excited for the future.
“I’m extremely happy with the way things are now,” said senior tri-captain Ethan Craddock, one of the wrestlers on that lonely 2015-16 team. “We just went to school and started talking to kids and then those kids got their friends to come out and that’s how we got this many kids out here now. I never expected us to have this many wrestlers and the skill that we have is just extreme.”
St. Mary’s went to the 2016 All-Catholic tournament with just junior Will Story, sophomore Jake Fay, and freshmen Craddock & Josh Weiss. Story was an All-Catholic champion that season. Fay set a program record for wins in a season last year with 32.
They’ve both graduated but the legacy they started continues.
“If you get a couple good wrestlers in the room it helps people think, ‘Oh maybe I could do that,'” said Weiss, brother of head coach Zach Weiss. “Jake Fay, Will Story…they put the team on their backs for a couple years. Ethan and I, we really weren’t putting the wins up but we were working. [Fay and Story] were putting the wins up and bringing attention to the team.”
Craddock and Weiss have consistently improved and each placed at last year’s All-Catholics; Craddock third at 132-pounds and Weiss fourth at 138. This season they serve as tri-captains along with classmate Austin Walsh, who played basketball as a freshman before taking Craddock’s advice and moving to the wrestling mat as a sophomore.
“I can’t say enough about that senior class, what those guys have done for the program is just amazing,” Zach Weiss said. “And they don’t get the perspective of it yet. Having the leadership that we’ve had the last couple years with those guys and kids that were involved that have graduated…Will Story, Jake Fay, Joe Flading, Matt Macdonald…what those kids did was huge in showing this school what wrestling is all about. Through that, things have organically risen and we’re just going to keep going.”
Zach Weiss, a 2007 St. Mary’s graduate and former Lancer wrestler, was the MMAA Coach of the Year last season. He might want to credit the wrestlers – past and present – for the program’s quick rise, but the wrestlers are quick to deflect the glory right back to their head coach.
“The growth we’ve had is amazing and I have to give it all to my brother,” Josh Weiss said. “He works his butt off for the team and gets as many kids out here as he can.”
The Lancers have also beefed up the competition. For the first time in program history, St. Mary’s competed in the Catholic High School Athletic Association Dual Meet Wrestling Championships last weekend. Although the Lancers finished 1-8, they hope competition will help the program rise to the next level down the road.
St. Mary’s also hosted a dual meet tournament for the first time in early December, finishing 3-2.
All of that builds up to the All-Catholic tournament. St. Mary’s may not be the favorite as St. Francis and St. Joe’s are expected to battle it out for the top spot with Canisius also a threat. The Lancers are going to have solid representation in most every weight class.
Weiss expects all three of his tri-captains to be in the mix along with the Ash brothers – juniors Matt and Zach – as well as promising freshmen Trevor Sheehan and Alex Ellison.
“We’re looking to make waves for sure,” Walsh said. “I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
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