The 1973 Cardinal Stritch Class A-AA state runner‐up wrestling team was inducted into the school’s hall of fame at a banquet before the holidays.
It is the second wrestling team inducted — the 1985 state championship team, with four seniors and two juniors qualifying for state, became part of the hall of fame membership in 2000. Stritch also took second at state in 1972, 1974, and 1983.
Members of the 1973 team are Dennis Bihn, Paul “Matt Chovanec, Chris Covill, Bruce Kirby, Paul Luther, Jim Reeves, Fred Toensing, Ray Wilson, Jake Sanchez, Rusty Menchaca, Brian Haynes, Paul Sepeda, Tony Guerrero, Alex Sofalvi, and head coach Karl Pankratz and assistant coach Bob Reynolds.
“A lot has to do with the type of kids that came here from East Toledo, Genoa, and Oregon. Just tough kids,” Reynolds, a longtime teacher and coach, told The Press in 2002.
“Stritch has met aneed for the community all its own,” Reynolds continued. “This became known as the ‘Stritch Family’ and is still so today. I think part of that developed because we were a little school in a great big City League and you had to really pull together in order to compete.”
Luther, a 1974 graduate, excelled in wrestling as a two-time state champion his junior and senior years. He was also High School All‐American (SWN), third in the nation in Freestyle in 1974, was a USA Team member in the USSR in 1974 and Poland in 1976, as well as AAU Open Champion (Jr. World) in 1976.
Luther won his first Class A-AA state championship in 1973 in the 145 pound class and in 1974 at 155 pounds. He is one of 235 two-time state champions in Ohio wrestling history.
According to data compiled by Dan Cosimi of The Ohio Wrestling Network, Luther counts for two of Stritch’s 11 individual state champions that also include Scott Zapadka (1987, 88), Jim Reindel (1984), Fritz Ackerman (1983), Jim Derr (1978), Dave Talbott (1978), Bryan Haynes (1975), Jim Bergman (1972), and Pat Curley (1967). Curley had a 20-match win streak and won the state final with pin.
Stritch wrestling won eight Toledo City League titles, even though competing against the likes of St. Johns Jesuit and St. Francis DeSales. For one span of 28 consecutive years, at least one Stritch wrestler qualified for the state tournament.
After graduation, Chovanec, the 1973 team captain, attended Marshall University and was named the Thundering Herd’s Most Valuable Wrestler for the 1975-76 season.
“My Cardinal Stritch experience and education has proven to be a great asset over the years both personally and professionally. Wrestling taught me to overcome adversity that life can throw at you, and perseverance to achieve goals. It was my privilege to be a part of the Stritch community and this fine group of men,” Chavenic said.
Wilson was a member of the wrestling team for three years and was the Northwood Invitational and sectional champion both his junior and senior years.
Coach Pankratz, a 1966 graduate of St. Francis de Sales High School, brought plenty of experience with him. At St. Francis, he was an all‐state football player and an undefeated state champion in Wrestling.
He received a full football scholarship to Indiana University, played in the 1968 Rose Bowl, and was the captain of the 1969 team. He was also an All‐Big Ten linebacker.
After graduating from Indiana University in 1970, Pankratz began teaching business at Stritch in 1971. While teaching, Karl also coached football and wrestling, was the Dean of Men, and became the head wrestling coach in 1973.
Pankratz moved on to teach and coach at Start in 1976, and then to Central Catholic. In a career spanning almost 40 years he served as a Guidance Director, Assistant Principal, Dean of Men, and Counselor. He also coached football, wrestling and golf during that time.
Coach Reynolds is certainly one of the most recognizable faces associated with CSCHS. A member of the first graduating class — 1965, he returned in 1970 and spent the next 35 teaching, coaching and
working at his Alma Mater.
While a student he was active in all aspects of high school life, including student government, and playing on the football and wrestling teams. He was also a member of the track team, setting a school record in the long jump.
He attended Bowling Green State University, graduating in 1969 and spent one year teaching shop at Fremont Junior High School.
Reynolds returned to CSCHS in 1970 to teach graphic arts and theology. He was also involved in the school theater productions and worked his summers in the maintenance department. Along with his teaching duties, he was the head cross country coach, head track coach, assistant wrestling coach, and started the Girls Cross Country team.
Reynolds also acted as the on‐site athletic administrator for sporting events for 10 years. He served on the Board of Directors for the East Toledo YMCA and is currently a Trustee with the Oregonian Club.
He was recognized by The University of Toledo College of Engineering as an Outstanding Partner in Education in 2007 and 2011, and was inducted into the Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School Hall of Fame in 1995, and the Toledo Area Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2011.