In its second year, Gaelic Knights grappling taking baby steps to success
By Luke Eggleston
SUN Staff Writer
The Bishop Ludden varsity wrestling program is just two years into its new history and the 2007-08 season has featured a certain amount of success.
For the Gaelic Knights of the mat, it’s difficult to measure achievement in terms of victories whether they’re individual or team. This year, even modest goals would be major gains for a program that is still emerging from nearly 30 years of absence.
“[Our goal is] just to get better every match. We’d like to put a couple of guys in sectionals and win a couple of matches,” Ludden coach John Cosgrove said.
This year, Ludden was able to host dual meets for the first time after donations produced new mats. The Knights broke in their new dark green mats when they hosted the West Side Duals Dec. 29, a tournament that included Onondaga, West Genesee, Fabius-Pompey, Solvay and Pulaski. It was the first time Ludden had hosted a wrestling event since the program was disbanded in the early 1980s.
“So it was kind of like our coming out party. So to have five matches in one day was pretty big for us,” Cosgrove said.
With only 10 wrestlers on the team, the Knights are sacrificing 24 points in forfeits during each dual they compete in. Nevertheless, Ludden defeated Pulaski 45-24.
More recently, the Knights were highly competitive in a dual meet against local rival Solvay. The dual came down to the final match and, although he was disappointed with the loss, Cosgrove noted that it was satisfying simply to be competitive.
During Ludden’s inaugural season, Cosgrove could only watch as most of his wrestlers endured pin after pin.
“It’s nice. Last year we got pinned a lot. We weren’t really in any of the matches. Now the guys are wrestling full matches and it’s going down to the wire,” the coach said.
One wrestler, Jiyouh Ly, went through the ringer last year. This season has brought with it marked improvement and success. Ly recently earned his first decision via pin.
“It felt really good because I was more experienced and I felt like I knew what was going on more,” the senior 140-pounder said.
Ly also plays football and lacrosse. He said he prefers wrestling because of the solitary nature of the sport.
“This is more of an individual sport. You can’t really blame someone else for your loss. You really have to work hard for your team to win,” Ly said. “It’s probably the people who are my age who grew up when wrestling was big are now parents and getting their kids into it.”
According to Cosgrove, Ly is one of a handful of Ludden wrestlers who are capable of earning a seed in the Section 3 Tournament this year. Cosgrove noted that Pat Rosanio and Conner Cosgrove (the coach’s son) also have the potential to get into the tournament’s competitive field.
While basketball reigns supreme at Syracuse’s West End Catholic school, Cosgrove noted that wrestling is an excellent alternative.
“The only bright side is basketball doesn’t take that many kids. So it’s an alternative. I think it’s that way at most schools,” Cosgrove said. “I think it gives kids an alternative to basketball. In basketball the spots on the roster are limited and there needs to be something else for kids to do especially in the winter in Central New York.”
Along with many other football coaches, Cosgrove believes several skills necessary for wrestling translate well to the gridiron. The majority of the Ludden wrestlers are also football players and others play lacrosse.
This past fall, the football team won its first New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Class C Tournament championship. At the time, Cosgrove noted that he was thrilled with the opportunity of hanging a football championship banner alongside those of the basketball program. He also hopes success in the Carrier Dome will carry over to the mat.
“I hope so. I hope the fact that they’ve won in football teaches them that they can win at anything,” Cosgrove said.