Saint Mary leans on experience, newcomers to win first dual

Derek Wiley/Leavenworth Times
CherryRoad Media
Saint Mary senior Nic Roller won by fall in the heavyweight division against Benedictine.

Saint Mary finished its first dual of the season the same way it started it, with a pin.

“When you can start the night like that and finish the night like that, it’s normally a pretty good thing,” Saint Mary wrestling coach Chuck Kearney said. “There’s a lot of good stuff, but there’s also a lot of stuff that we need to get better at. We had a lot of young guys in there tonight. It was their first big home dual meet, so that was exciting.”

The Spires won seven of 10 matches against Benedictine Thursday inside the Ryan Sports Center, including five by fall to outscore the Ravens 39-10.

The opening and closing pins came from vastly different experienced wrestlers – freshman Ethan Woods at 125 pounds and heavyweight Nic Roller, a fifth-year senior.

Roller is one of four wrestlers who decided to come back for a fifth year due to COVID-19 along with Patrick Boulanger, Gabe Blough and Riley Jaramillo.

All four contributed to the Spires win over Benedictine. Blough and Jaramillo both won by pin in the first period while Boulanger earned a 15-6 major decision.

Saint Mary freshman Ethan Woods pinned Benedictine’s Charles Easterling in the third period of Thursday’s dual at the Ryan Sports Center.

In the NAIA preseason poll, Saint Mary had three individuals ranked in the top 20 in their respective weight classes – Boulanger, 12th at 174 pounds, Jaramillo, 17th at 184, and sophomore Austin Almaguer, 19th at 149.

Saint Mary’s roster also includes nine freshmen, five of which wrestled against Benedictine.

At 133 pounds, Hunter White won by technical fall.

“It’s a tale of two cities,” Kearney said. “We’ve just got a lot of work we can do with the young guys and the old guys looked like seasoned vets.” 

Saint Mary junior Maxx Demann overcame a bloody nose and near fall to pin Benedictine’s Jack Bruno in the 165-pound match.

“You’ve got to be excited about a kid like Maxx,” Kearney said. “It was ugly but winning ugly is still a win. It’s amazing what you can do when you keep trying.”

Kearney has also been impressed by freshman Austin Carter, who lost 8-5 to Caden Casella.

“We’ve just got to get him to figure out what he’s doing,” Kearney said. “He just doesn’t know what he’s doing yet. He gets in situations where he’s so excited and gets thrown to his back, but he’s going to be really good.”

The Spires should have a more experienced lineup as early as next month.

“We’ve been training hard and we’re a little bit dinged-up right now,” Kearney said. “We’ve got a couple of guys that we’ll be getting at Christmas time that will solidify us in a couple of spots where we’re young.”

One wrestler that should be back soon is sophomore Hartwell Taylor, a 2020 KSHSAA state finalist at Lansing.

“As we start putting those guys in, we turn into a really good team,” Kearney said. “We’re excited about the group and it could be a really fun year.”

Saint Mary’s next home dual is Dec. 10 against Bethany College.