Geneseo junior West Cathcart found his way to the podium for the second straight year, again earning runner-up honors Feb. 20 at the IHSA State Finals in Champaign.

Geneseo junior West Cathcart found his way to the podium for the second straight year, again earning runner-up honors Feb. 20 at the IHSA State Finals in Champaign.

“It was a good weekend,” said head coach Jon Murray. “I am really proud of the result. West did a good job of bouncing back from the sectional loss. You can’t be upset with a kid coming two points away from the title. Getting second two years in a row should not be thought of as falling short or a disappointment. It is a great accomplishment.

“Obviously, getting down to the state finals back to back requires persistence. West is a true wrestler. It is part of his life and he keeps working at it.”

“I think it helped being down there last year because this year I knew what to expect and I was not as nervous,” said Cathcart.

Cathcart reached the championship bout where he squared off against Austin Marsden of Crystal Lake Central for the second time in a week. Marsden handed Cathcart his first loss of the season at the IHSA Sectional Meet the week before.

“Going into state with one loss took the pressure off and the target was now on his (Marsden) back,” said Cathcart. “I was going in trying to be the dark horse. I think a huge turning point was watching tape of the sectional loss. It really helped me. In that finals match, I used everything we worked on and did all the stuff to stop him.”

In the 189-pound title match, Marsden again was able to pull out the win over Cathcart in a 3-2 decision for the championship.

After a scoreless first period, Marsden took the 2-0 lead in the second period, but Cathcart was able to tie things up on a reversal with 23 seconds left. However, Cathcart was unable to hold him down to force overtime and Marsden got the escape with :06 left to steal the win.

“(At sectionals) I think was the first time all year I wrestled a tough opponent like that,” said Cathcart. “The second time (at state) I thought I had him.”

“West absolutely learned from his mistakes and didn’t get caught once in anything he got caught in the week before,” said Murray. “Basically he shut Marsden down, but just couldn’t hold him down and he got the escape to win the match.”

“You can’t be disappointed because it is still a great accomplishment and is nothing to hang my head about,” said Cathcart. “But, when you set a goal and you don’t reach it there is still a little disappointment.”

To reach the championship match, Cathcart first pinned Doug Diedrick of Lombard Montini in 3:24. Cathcart followed that win up with a 14-1 major decision victory over Grant Naylor of Mt. Zion.

“At state, there are no easy matches,” said Murray. “He had to be ready in order to do that. When we are down at state we take it one match at a time and we took it one step at a time.”

In the semifinals, Cathcart met up with familiar foe George Canales of Dixon who Cathcart was able to edge out in a 1-0 decision. The match was held at a 0-0 stalemate through both the first and second periods and then in the third period Cathcart got the escape point to take the win.

“Having been their fourth match of the season against each other, Canales was very well coached against West,” said Murray. “Canales is no slouch. He has only lost six  matches this season and four of them were to West. It was a good win for West because it is hard to beat a kid over and over again.”

Cathcart ends his season with a 43-2 record.

“This gives me a ton of motivation for next year and will just make me work so much harder,” said Cathcart.

“Obviously, the immediate reaction is disappointment, but now he sees how the community has embraced him and how they respect what he has done and he can appreciate what he did,” said Murray. “West had great support down there. We had a nice, noisy section for West. After the initial disappointment of coming so close, he can be happy with his accomplishment after seeing how proud everyone is of him. No one is disappointed. Everyone is proud of him.

“I just want to thank everyone who supported West and the rest of the team along the way, not just at state. We had great community support.”