Wrestling finishes season, set to join MAC next year

By Ben Hercik, Sports Editor

Going into the season, Josh Moore became the new head coach for the Cleveland State University

wrestling team. Moore, taking the lead for the program and becoming a head coach for the first time,

faced new challenges. One of the challenges he faced was trying to build the program in different areas.

“I think my biggest challenge in my first year was finding the best way to prioritize my time while

working to build the program in many different areas including recruiting, fundraising, match promotion

and marketing, as well as the development of our student-athletes,” Moore said. “Our staff was also all

new to the program and learning their strengths this season will help me be more prepared for planning

for next season.”

It was a very rough season on the mat for the Vikings, which was capped with a seventh place finish in

the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) tournament, failing to have any wrestler qualify for the NCAA

Wrestling Tournament. This snaps a streak of six straight seasons that Cleveland State was represented in

the biggest college wrestling tournament of the season. Moore doesn’t see this as something going wrong,

rather he sees it as a learning experience.

“I wouldn’t say something went wrong. I think we competed okay, but to place higher, and to have guys

make the NCAA tournament, you have to wrestle and compete great on that one day,” Moore said.

“We lost a handful of close matches which led to an overall poor team finish. I expected to take a few

lumps this season, but I hoped that we would overcome the lack of experience and begin to find our

strengths and build confidence as the year progressed.”

Even with a tough season, there were many bright spots to look back on from the season. Freshman Ben

Smith, sophomore Ryan Ford, junior Nico O’Dor and freshman Brady Barnett return after posting

winning records this past season.

There is also senior Evan Cheek, sophomore Georgio Poullas and sophomore Josh Kelbly coming off of

redshirt years, who will be looking to re-enter the starting lineup for the coming year. They are coming

off of seasons where they went 21-4, 9-3 and 12-8 respectively. Current University of Buffalo junior,

Justin Patrick also announced, via Twitter that he will be transferring to Cleveland State next season.

The wrestling room is shaping up to be very competitive, and Moore is very excited for it.

“We are looking forward to having Cheek, Poullas and Kelbly come off redshirt and compete for us next

season,” Moore said. “I’m not sure how everything will work out in the line-up but I know competition in

the room. This season, we will have the most depth that I have seen at Cleveland State in the last four

years that I have been part of the team.”

Even though the season is over on the mat, Cleveland State has already made news off the mat for the

2019-20 season. It was announced on March 5 that Cleveland State and the other seven teams in the

EWL will be joining the Mid-American Conference.

This move raises the total number of teams in the conference from eight to 15, making it the second

biggest conference in college wrestling. This move presents Cleveland State with a lot of competition,

but Moore is looking forward to the challenge.

“It is big because it provides CSU wrestling an opportunity to compete against nationally successful

programs and be part of a larger conference that is more widely recognized in Ohio and in the country,”

Moore said. “It will allow for more spots [in] the NCAA tournament and give us the ability to attract

recruits that may want to compete for a big conference.”

Speaking of recruits, Cleveland State has announced three recruits that will be dawning the green and

black. Jack Gorman, Gus Sutton and Logan Heil will all be wrestling in the Woodling Gym for at least

the next four seasons. All three placed in the recent high school state tournament. With this very talented

recruiting class, Moore hopes this is the first step to help Cleveland State rise up the ranks in college

wrestling.

“Yes, they were all three-time state placers in high school and have experienced wrestling in big events

at the high school level,” Moore said. “I believe that we are starting to attract higher caliber recruits and

having that talent in our room is what will help us become more competitive in the future.”

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