After some lean seasons of wrestling at St. Viator, things may be looking brighter for the Lions and new coach Jason Churak.
St. Viator unleashed a frenzy of falls to break open a close dual with visiting Ridgewood and outlast the Rebels 38-33 in a thrilling nonconference contest inside Cahill Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.
"There's a new kind of feeling and attitude around here from the freshman level on up, and it's exciting to be a part of it," said Brandon Schuyta, who fueled a bonus-point bonanza with his tech-fall (4:54) at 145 pounds to get his club back in it at 12-8 after St. Viator gave away 12 points with forfeits in the opening two matches.
"Coach Churak brings a lot of spirit and excitement into the room, but there's also a lot more intensity, which has been missing. So now everyone feels like things are more legit this year," added Schuyta, who earned a third-place medal at the East Suburban Catholic Conference tourney last season.
"Brandon is a terrific leader for us, and it's not too surprising that his teammates voted him our captain, which says a lot about him, with him being just a junior," said Churak. "He will be our bridge to the future because of his leadership, which I feel can get better if the guys continue to work as hard as they have thus far."
One of the Lions few veterans, Kyle Koss, got the guests on the board with a gritty 6-5 decision at 138 pounds before Schuyta jump-started a 29-6 run.
Jack DeBartolo (160) kept things going with a fall at 3:50. Then it was teammates Shamon Johnson (170) and Joe McIntyre (182) following up before Charles Walberg garnered a well-earned 5-3 victory over J.P. Sciortino at 195 pounds.
Walberg found himself on his back, fighting off a pin midway through the third period. An escape, then a quick takedown put Walberg ahead for good to put the Lions' advantage at 32-18.
"Jack's win was a big one for us, because he did so wrestling a weight class up, which says a lot about a kid who has only been in the sport for two years," said Churak, who was also quick to praise James Valentino, who followed DeBartolo with a 6-5 triumph in a riveting bout with previously undefeated Vinny Scaletta.
"To be a freshmen at a weight class like 220 pounds, and to have just three losses is terrific," Churak said. "James is another one of those guys who just keeps working and working."
The Rebels, who are out of the Metro Suburban Conference, are led by former Leyden star Jared McCabe. They drew closer (32-27) after a 8-6 victory at heavyweight from Dominic Ateca and a pin at 106 by Adonis Silva. But St. Viator's Joe DeBartolo turned the tables on Steven Petropoulos with a nifty move to put an end to the Rebels' comeback hopes with a fall at 2:46.
A 6-point forfeit at 120 for Armando Salgado made the final score close as St. Viator improved its record to 3-4-0 in duals.