The Wolves' Zach Badowi battles the Cardinals' Kasey Ackley during their match at 120 pounds.

The Wolves' Zach Badowi battles the Cardinals' Kasey Ackley during their match at 120 pounds.

The Thomas Worthington High School wrestling team will welcome a familiar nemesis for the Cardinal Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 4.

The eight-team home event, which dates to the 1960s, features one of the Cardinals' OCC-Central Division foes, Hilliard Davidson. The Wildcats, who captured last year's league title and are 6-0 this season, did not compete in last year's tournament.

Among other things, Davidson's inclusion means the tournament will have a defending Division I state champion in the field. Senior Chase Delande captured the 145-pound title by defeating Massillon Perry's Tanner Lemon 9-4 in the final last year, becoming the first wrestler from the school to win a state title since 1995.

On Jan. 5, the Wildcats defeated Thomas 65-12 in an OCC-Central dual and rallied from a 27-24 deficit to upend Worthington Kilbourne 36-27 by winning the final two matches. Delande pinned both of his opponents that night at 152.

"This is what we want at our home tournament - tough competition," Thomas coach Mark Gundling said. "We like facing that competition because it only makes us better."

The Cardinals also will join Davidson in the Marysville sectional tournament on Feb. 18.

"It's kind of crazy," Gundling said. "We have both Davidson and Mount Vernon, which is another solid team, coming to our tournament (this) weekend and then we'll turn around and see them both again at the sectional."

Thomas is coming off an eighth-place finish (89) in the Eaton Invitational on Jan. 27 and 28 as Hamilton Ross (209.5) took the team championship. Andrew Shackelford won the title at 182, pinning his first three opponents before defeating Kyle Patterson of runner-up Pemberville Eastwood (194) 5-2 in the final. Shackelford, who has won four tournament titles this season, improved to 21-4.

Noah Messerall (126) and Brooks Gilmore (heavyweight) both placed fourth.

"We were 14th at Eaton last year, so we moved up six spots," Gundling said. "If we do that again next year, we'll be second. We're moving in the right direction."

•Kilbourne, which will compete in the Westland sectional on Feb. 18, will conclude its regular-season tournament schedule on Saturday, Feb. 4, in the Nye Cardinal Classic at St. Charles.

The Wolves are coming off a 10th-place finish (69) in the Cruiser Invitational on Jan. 28 at Groveport behind champion Pickerington North (192.5).

Mike Mayberry lost for the first time this season, 11-6 to North's Matt Kitchen in a championship semifinal at 195, but he bounced back to place third while moving his record to 26-1. Zach Badowi (120) also finished third to improve to 22-7. Alex Meehan (220) was fifth and both Kyle Wahl (138) and James Gundling (145) finished sixth.

The Wolves are 10-3 overall in dual matches and 4-2 in the OCC-Central and will compete at home against Dublin Coffman on Thursday, Feb. 2. They defeated visiting Thomas 47-24 on Jan. 26.

"Mike Mayberry wrestled up (at 220 against Thomas) and pinned his guy. That was a good momentum-builder," coach Brett Shaut said.

"And James Gundling was up first and pinned his guy to get us started on the right foot.

"It was senior night and we had a great attendance, probably the biggest crowd I've seen here in some time. It's nice seeing both schools get that kind of support."

Thomas wrestlers and fans react as the Cardinals' Brooks Gilmore nearly pins Kilbourne's Jude McCullough during their heavyweight match.