“Our goal is to place in the top three of every tournament and we ended up five points off of first,” Marquette coach Jake Dieffenbach said. “With 20 teams, there were a lot of good wrestlers out there. The holidays are always a tough time to try and keep the team motivated but having a tournament like this was good to keep their focus over the break.”
This was Marquette’s first year competing in the De Smet Jesuit meet.
“In the past, we competed at the Lindbergh Tournament and that folded this past year so we decided to get into the De Smet Tournament this year,” Dieffenbach said.Dieffenbach was happy with the way his Marquette matmen competed.
“We brought nine wrestlers and had four champions so I was very pleased with their performance,” Dieffenbach said. “With any tournament you leave some points out on the board but I liked the way we competed.”
Junior Jack Lenox won at 126. Lenox is a two-time state medalist.
“Jack is rolling along this year. He is workmanlike in the way that he approaches things and has one loss to the same guy [Lafayette’s Jaylen Carson] that defeated him in the third-place match at the state tournament last year. With him at the level it takes to win a state title, it comes down to the little things.
“The season is a marathon and not a sprint; Jack knows that it’s all about who is the best guy at the last tournament of the year.”
Lenox recorded six pins and a tech fall in the tournament. He pinned Hancock’s Xavier Smith for title.
“Jack had a pretty good performance even to his standards, and his confidence is growing with every match,” Dieffenbach said. “He is becoming more and more offensive every year. His freshmen year it was all about winning 1-point matches and now he is starting to open up a little bit.
“Xavier Smith is a very strong kid so Jack had to wear him out a little but he eventually got the job done.”
Freshman Alex Nicozisin won at 132. He pinned Fox’s Dylan Looney for the title.
“Alex was a very solid Little Leaguer and there has been a bit of a learning curve for him but I think he is finally adapting to the varsity level,” Dieffenbach said. “He is learning how to manage a match which can be tough for a lot of freshmen. I think this tournament showed him that if he limits his mistakes then the sky is the limit for him.”
Senior Jaylen Gayfield won at 170. He scored a tech fall over Hazelwood Central’s Ron McDaniel.
“Jaylen is having a great year with a 27-1 record so far,” Dieffenbach said. “He had a tough 7-6 loss to a two-time state champion earlier this year but other than that has been nails. He makes it look easy when he competes and is fun to watch. I have confidence that he can continue to get better as the year goes on.”
Junior Marco Perla won at 220. He won 5-0 decision over North County’s Mike Allison.
“Marco had a tough sophomore year but has had a complete turnaround so far this season,” Dieffenbach said. “He has knocked off a lot guys that he has lost to last season and even avenged a loss to a defending state medalist from earlier in the year. He is just getting better and better as the year goes on and all of his offseason work has paid off.”
Dieffenbach said two other Mustangs also performed well in the meet. Freshman Zack Watkins “had a good performance” in scoring a fourth-place finish. Freshman Blake Fischer “also performed well” with a runner-up finish.
“I am happy with the way we are progressing,” Dieffenbach said. “We are very young, with only two seniors in the lineup on most nights, so if they keep working they should improve a lot as the season progresses.”