ROCKTON - Paul Fay has waited his turn for the past three seasons.
That's what tends to happen when you're stuck behind one of the best wrestlers in the country. Fay, a Hononegah heavyweight, understandably couldn't crack the regular lineup behind current University of Iowa wrestler Tony Cassioppi.
But in his first action of his senior season, Fay excelled at the highly compettive Moore/Prettyman Invitational, placing third among heavyweights and impressing his coach Anthony Miers in the process.
"I think Paul is ready to have a really nice senior year," Miers said. "I think it really helped him, having Anthony in the room for three years and getting your butt kicked in practice every day. And he's worked really hard. He came in after football season at over 300 pounds, so to get back down to 285, that's a lot of work."
Fay wasn't the only highlight for the Indians in at the Moore/Prettyman. Miers said his team, which graduated several NIC-10 champions, performed better than he expected.
"Our performance as a whole was what was surprising to me," Miers said. "We performed better overall than what we did last year at the same meet, and we had less guys in the lineup this year. Our younger guys did well for us."
While Tony Cassioppi is a Hawkeye, younger brother Giovanni, a star in his right, is back for his senior season. Giovanni qualified for the IHSA Class 3A state tournament at 152 pounds, and finished second Saturday at 145.
"I think another state run is a very realistic goal for Gio," Miers said. "He had a great offseason and I can tell just by wrestling with him in practice he's improved a great deal. He competed as much as he could and it's paid off. He's just a terrific all-around wrestler."
Zach Fausel (132) took third place at last year's NIC-10 meet, then finished third Saturday.
"He's coming in kind of like an underdog," Miers said. "He's had some injuries in the past couple of years that have held him back. He's doing really well and he's hung in there through everything."
Jarrett Kinney (170) finished fourth Saturday, but Miers believes it could've even been better. "I definitely think he could've gotten third," Miers said. "He just had one minor slip-up which ended up costing him the match. He wrestled really well."
Miers singled out Kaleb Etnyre (220) as someone with loads of potential and said there are many younger wrestlers at the lower weights that are fighting for spots.
"We have 35 total wrestlers, which is about the same as last season," Miers said. "We would love to be at about 50 total, but we're also focused more on quality than quanitty. The guys we have here are really working their tails off every day. I like our 35."
Miers said he expects Rockford East and Jefferson to challenge for the NIC-10's top spot that has been in the Indians' possession for several seasons.
"Freeport just has a ton of kids out and I love the way their head coach operates," Miers said. "And East, they've really gotten better every years. Our first dual meet this season was with them, and they gave us a great battle. It's going to be a good, challenging season for us."
The Indians are next in action Saturday at the Wheaton-Warrenville South Mega Duals.