Losing is no fun.
It’s less fun when you really can’t do anything about it.
That was the problem for Liam Logue and the Father Judge High School wrestling team last year.
The Crusaders didn’t enjoy their usual success last year, but it certainly wasn’t because they didn’t have their share of top wrestlers. The ones they had could hang with anyone. They just didn’t have enough of them.
“Last year was really tough because we always want to win the Catholic League and make it to states as a team,” said Logue, a senior who has 117 wins during his high school career. “We would just get deflated because we had so many holes in our lineup. You wouldn’t really have a chance to win a lot of times because (the opponents) would get six points. When you have a few of them, you just fall behind.”
This year, the Crusaders still have the talented core, but they also have a new group of tough wrestlers who might not be the most polished on the mat, but they do their best to fight off their backs and keep the damage to a minimum. And even better, they’re starting to pick up victories.
“This year has been great because we have more wrestlers, and we’re more spread out this year,” said Logue, who has helped the Crusaders go 11-4 overall, 3-0 in Catholic League action. “Having guys makes a big difference because if they win, it’s a huge swing. Even if they lose, but don’t get pinned, like if they lose by a major decision, it’s still saving points. It can be the difference between winning and losing.”
Thanks to good wrestlers and a little depth, they were bested by Archbishop Wood, the eventual champs, in the semifinals. This year, they could square off against the Vikings again in the semifinals, but this time it will be at Judge and it will be Wood that will have to wrestle in the quarterfinals.
Wood will take on Bishop McDevitt on Wednesday night at Judge. The winner will then go on to wrestle Judge immediately following in the semifinals.
Last weekend, the Crusaders performed well at the Escape the Rock tournament at Council Rock South, where eight Crusaders made the championship round. That showing gives the Crusaders momentum heading into the playoffs.
“Our goal is the Catholic League championship, that’s always the first team goal,” Logue said. “I really want to go to states as a team and see how we can do. It’s tough, you wrestle good teams, but it’s fun because you get better.”
Logue has been improving on the mat for years.
In fact, when he first started wrestling when he was in second grade, he really struggled. But high school has been a different story.
“It was hard and I wasn’t very good, but my dad wanted us to get involved to do something,” Logue said. “I didn’t really get good until I got to middle school. Then I started getting better. When I started to love it, I started getting better. It’s all about what you put into it.”
Because he moved up two weight classes this year, Logue figured he might have a little time adjusting to the stronger wrestlers, but if he has, it’s not showing in his record. Logue has won 26 of his 30 matches thus far at 132 pounds. And he’s also had a hand in helping his brother, Eamonn, a junior who is 26-1 on the year.
“All summer, I wanted to get bigger and stronger, so I worked a lot in the weightroom,” Logue said. “We push each other to get better. We’ve been doing it our whole lives. He’s a little smaller, but he’s doing very good. He had a huge win this year, he beat a kid from West Chester (Henderson) who finished second in states.”
Logue hopes this year, he can make some noise in the state tournament. A trip would be his second. He qualified during his sophomore year, when he took third in the region, but didn’t place at states. Last year he didn’t qualify, so he has some unfinished business in Hershey.
“Going there was an honor because you see all of the great wrestlers from across the state,” Logue said. “There’s so many good wrestlers there. Everyone is there, and it’s a chance to wrestle the best.”
Next year, Logue hopes to continue his wrestling career when he enrolls in Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut
“I think it’s a great career, I’ll get an education, come out of school without loans and it’s what I want to do,” Logue said. “I’ve had some contact with their coaches. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s good for me in every way.”
He just hopes he goes there as a Catholic League champion.
The road to the team title starts this week. A win Wednesday would put the Crusaders in position to bring the championship back to Holmesburg on Jan. 29. Then it would be back to states for the Crusaders. Following that, he can focus on wrestling as an individual.
“We still have a lot to do,” Logue said. “We want the championship. We have tough guys who can wrestle and we have some guys who just want to win the championship. It’s tough, but we have what we need.”