CINCINNATI, Ohio - The Mount St. Joseph Lions led by first year Head Coach Charles Mason are in the midst of what has been dubbed a "Rebirth" of the once defunct MSJ Wrestling program. That "Rebirth" came full circle last night as the Lions took to the mats in the Harrington Center for the first time in more than five years. They did so be welcoming the Cardinals of Otterbein and a near capacity crowd to Delhi.
The match opened with a pair of forfeits at 125 lbs and 133 lbs, setting up the first official match of the night at 141. For the Lions that meant the lone sophomore in the lineup, captain Nate McClanahan (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) trying to secure the early lead for the Lions. After a slow first period in which no points were scored, the match began to heat up in second. McClanahan scored first as he opened period number two on the bottom and managed a quick escape. DiSabato from Otterbein came back and took a 4-3 lead which he held until late in the third, when McClanahan secured a two-point takedown to clinch the victory.
The Lions would go onto get the win at 149 and 157, as Kaden Darbro (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier) and Chucky Lipps (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) were each victorious. They were both victorious by decision, pushing the overall team score to 15-6 in favor of the Lions.
Otterbein secured the victory at 165 by major decision to cut the Lions lead to 15-10 as the teams went to intermission. During intermission youth wrestlers from the Athena Wrestling club took their turn on the MSJ mat, with three youth matches.
Coming out of intermission coach Mason sent yet another freshman to the mat at 174, Tristan Faworski (Winnebago, Ill./Winnebago). Tristan turned in the "moment of the match", getting a much needed first round pin. Which pushed the score to 21-10 in favor of the Lions.
The Cardinals struck back immediately getting a pin-fall of their own at 184, setting the score at 21-16 going into the final two matches of the night. And thats where the Lions and Cardinals both have their hammers. For the Lions at 197 that means freshman Antonio McCloud (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) and for Otterbein its Corbin Bunsold. McCloud is currently ranked as the ninth best 197 pounder in the country by NWCA, and Bunsold is in the honorable mention category putting him squarely in the top-20. McCloud was dominant in the match, after shaking off an early pin attempt by Bunsold, he technically outclassed his opponent going on to a 19-6 major decision win. McCloud's win clinched the victory in the dual for the Lions, putting them up 25-16.
At 285 both teams are extremely strong, Cameron Sauerwein (Harrison, Ohio/Harrison) for the Lions and Drew Kasper for Otterbein. Kasper came into the match 24-0 on the year with 8 wins by fall. Sauerwein more than held his own though against one of the top heavyweights in the nation at the Division III level. While he lost the match it was by an extremely tight 6-3 score.
"This atmosphere tonight was heartwarming to say the least" Said Coach Mason. "Everything from the kids sitting at the edge of the mat, to the other teams here at The Mount being here to support the guys, it was awesome."
The Lions will return to the mat on February 22nd and 23rd at the NCAA Regional Tournament hosted by Wabash College, where they hope to have multiple wrestlers qualify for the National Tournament in Roanoke, Virginia.