By Ben Hercik
The Cleveland State University wrestling team entered their first tournament of the season on Nov. 3, as they took part in the Clarion Open. Many wrestlers had good tournaments, with senior Evan Cheek leading the way.
Cheek returned to the starting lineup after taking a redshirt year and didn’t miss a beat, taking first place at the 141 pound weight class. Cheek recorded a tech fall in his first round match, and two pins in his semifinal and finals match.
Cheek wasn’t the only wrestler to have success at the Clarion Open, as five other Vikings found their way onto the podium. Redshirt freshman Logan Heil finished second in his first collegiate tournament at 125, notching a win over Willy Girard of Bloomsburg University, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season.
Senior Justin Patrick and freshman Riley Smucker, also competing in their first tournament for the Vikings found themselves on the podium, with Patrick placing fourth at 133 and Smucker finishing third at 165. Sophomores Brady Barnett and Ben Smith rounded out the placers for the Vikings, both finishing third at 157 and 197 respectively.
The sextet went on to continue their impressive starts of the season at the Ohio Intercollegiate Open, with Heil, Patrick, Cheek, Barnett and Smith winning their weight classes and Smucker taking third. The team began to prepare for their first big tournament, the Navy Classic.
While Cheek was the only wrestler to place in the tournament for Cleveland State at sixth place, there were two good performances from Heil, Archangelo and Smith.
Heil — who had his redshirt pulled before the tournament and was wrestling for the first time in a Vikings singlet — scored his first two wins for the school, while Archangelo reached the quarterfinals before bowing out of the tournament.
Smith suffered a loss in the first round, but rattled off four straight wins, including one over Timothy Young of Old Dominion University, who had been ranked ahead of Smith in early MAC polls. Smith also reached the consolation semifinals before exiting the tournament.
The Vikings now turn their attention to their dual with the University of Buffalo on Dec. 6, and the Cleveland State Open, which they host on Dec. 14. Cleveland State has a larger schedule than they did last season, as there are 13 duals on their schedule, and the Vikings will host five of them. With this beefed-up regular season schedule, head coach Josh Moore believes that the Vikings are ready for the challenge inpart by the experience that most of the lineup brings.
“Just having guys in the lineup having competed for us before and knowing what we expect is important,” said Moore. “They lead by example and show our group of freshmen how its done and what it takes to be successful. Showing up on time and working as hard as they can and all the things that there supposed to do the right way.”