When the seven Ohio Athletic Conference coaches cast their ballots for the preseason rankings it was Heidelberg who was at the top of the list. John Carroll University was second on the list.
A lot of teams would be satisfied with a number two ranking, but not the Blue Streaks.
“We definitely have all the respect for Heidelberg – they have a lot of guys returning. Being picked to finish second is not such a bad thing because it definitely gives us something to work for,” said senior Adam Pizzurro. “We use it as a motivator every time we practice to know that we don’t have the respect that we had a few years ago when we were on top of the OAC.”
The Blue Streaks started their quest for respect with a trip to Erie, Pennsylvania for the National Catholic Championship.
JCU was led by a pair of third-place finishes from junior Elie Naoum and senior Steven Bagnowski. The Blue Streaks finished with 57 team points, good for 6th place in the nine team tournament.
Later that week, JCU returned home to the Tony DeCarlo Center to battle neighborhood rival Case Western Reserve.
After an opening match forfeit, Pizzurro won with a 10-2 decision.
Junior Dan Mizener and Bagnowski built on their success from the Catholic Championship as both were victorious again.
JCU would close out the match in terrific fashion as junior Ben Adams and freshman Jim Nemunaitis both recorded first period pins. The pins, coupled with a pair of forfeits, allowed JCU to cruise to a 36-7 victory.
JCU’s next match against Cleveland State was a rough one for JCU. After dropping the first seven matches, Adams put JCU on the scoreboard.
Adams used takedowns in the first period to establish an early 5-0 lead, finishing strong to the tune of an 8-2 victory.
Adams’ victory was responsible for the only points the Blue Streaks could muster on the day as JCU was defeated 34-3 by the Division I Vikings.
“Cleveland State has a really tough team. We were in a couple matches but we ran into problems when we were on the mat,” Pizzurro said. “We now have a better idea of what problems we need to address and we have been emphasizing those at practice.”
JCU went back on the road as they traveled to compete in the Rochester Institute of Technology Invitational.
The Blue Streaks used a total team effort to take 6th place in the 14-team tournament.
Pizzurro returned to the tournament that he won last year and again led the charge for JCU.
While he did not repeat as champion, Pizzurro did manage a second-place finish, while Adams stayed hot as the unseeded junior rolled off five consecutive victories to capture third place.
Senior Dominic Spitalieri, seeded fourth in the 141 pound weight class, went 4-1 in the tournament, which earned him a third-place finish.
Another defending champion from last year, and this year’s top seed, Mizener placed fourth in the 149 pound class.
Senior Scott Marhofer debuted at 197 pounds and managed to knock off three of the top five seeds en route to his fifth place finish.
Adams is now 2-0 on the young season since he joined the wrestling squad after the completion of his football season. His quick start earned him Ohio Athletic Conference Wrestler of the Week for the first time in his career.
The Blue Streaks, 1-1 in dual meets on the season, will get back to competition when they head to Fort Lauderdale to participate in the Florida Citrus Tournament.
JCU doesn’t begin their OAC schedule until the new year when they travel to face Wilmington.