After giving up four straight wins out of the gate at Reservoir Tuesday night, Glenelg found itself in a discouraging, 18-0, hole.
Troy Kilcarr (113, pin), Trent Kilcarr (120, decision), Joe Quattrone (126, decision) and Mason Kilcarr (132, pin) had sent Glenelg reeling.
"Starting there I knew it was going to be a minimize-the-damage type situation ... they're just very tough all over," Glenelg coach Chris Rosas said. "Even though we know where we'll get our points and they know where they'll get theirs, if you start in the wrong place, that momentum can swing."
But with a defending heavyweight state champion, Sean Twigg, and recent War on the Shore champion Tim Null (106) looming at the end of the bench, no lead was large enough for Reservoir to feel like the match was in hand.
The Gladiators won eight of the last 10 matches, including pins by Austin Pagnotta (152), Joe Zoller (160), Craig Burris (220) and Twigg (285), to complete the comeback, 40-24, for a key league win.
Matt Baxter also scored a big win at 182 to put the Gladiators ahead, 22-21.
"That was what we expected, we knew they were good at the lower weights," said Pagnotta, who used the cradle to pin his opponent in the first period. "I was impressed by Burris and Baxter because they just came out, they're first-year wrestlers and they both did really good."
After Baxter's win, Gators junior Michael Sullivan earned a hardfought, 8-3, win over Twigg's younger brother, Austin, at 195 to give Reservoir the lead again, 24-22, with only three matches remaining.
Sullivan got off to a promising start last year as a first-year varsity wrestler, but then missed the bulk of the regular season with an injury. He returned just in time for the county tournament, but was not fully recovered. He then spent the offseason getting back to prime form and is poised for a strong junior season.
Sullivan "wrestled great ... to really dominate the match was awesome," Gators coach Andrew McIntyre said. "He wrestled his match, he controlled the pace. He's done the work and it clearly pays off on the mat."
But after back-to-back pins by Burris and Twigg, Glenelg had clinched the victory, and Null scored a 14-2 major decision to close it out. Last year as a freshman, Null was a .500 wrestler, placing fifth at the county tournament. But he has been turning heads so far this season as one of the league's best.
"He's gained some weight. He was a 95-pound 106er last year and now he's a true 106," Rosas said. "But it's not just a weight thing, he's put in a lot of work in the offseason and its showed so far."
Each team was without one of its best wrestlers for the match. Glenelg lost Pagnotta's older brother, Anthony, to a minor injury at the War on the Shore tournament in early December, although he is expected back in the next two weeks.
Reservoir lost sophomore Sam Rowell — a 2012 county champion and state placewinner — to preseason shoulder surgery, and he isn't expected back until February.
"He'll hopefully be back for the postseason. We're trying to figure it out. But at the same time, if he misses his sophomore year to have an excellent junior and senior year, that's a tradeoff," McIntyre said. Although "I'd love to have him in the line-up ..."
The two teams will next meet at the tough Mount Mat Madness tournament at UMBC on Dec. 28 and 29.
"They took the loss the right way. No one's head was down, no one was feeling sorry for themselves," McIntyre said. "But they started to get that look that wrestlers often need to get. That intensity ... we've got a lot of wrestling left to do this year."
Although Atholton lost to both Glenelg (69-6) and Reservoir (60-12) in the tri-meet, Raiders' defending county champion Pat Mullens won both of his matches.
"They were tough. We didn't match up well, but we gave it our all, and that's all you can ask," said Mullens, who was recently named Outstanding Wrestler at the Joppatowne Duals tournament.
Reservoir 60, Atholton 12
285: James Clements (Re) wbf. [6-0]
106: Tyler Ponton (Re) wbf. [12-0]
113: Troy Kilcarr (Re) pin Sean Driver (A), :47. [18-0]
120: Trent Kilcarr (Re) pin Andrew Valliere (A), 2:43. [24-0]
126: Joe Quattrone (Re) pin Alec Lewin (A), 2:30. [30-0]
132: Mason Kilcarr (Re) pin Josh Pickens (A), 1:42. [36-0]
138: Hans Wicklein (Re) pin Sam Bernard (A), 1:54. [42-0]
145: Paul Quattrone (Re) dec. Phillip Frazier (A), 12-5. [45-0]
152: Zach Smith (A) dec. Stephen Sims (Re), 6-4. [45-3]
160: Jay Chung (A) pin A.J. Strott (Re), 4:32. [45-9]
170: Pat Mullens (A) dec. Wes Beattie (Re), 10-3. [45-12]
182: Brian Glueck (Re) wbf. [51-12]
195: Michael Sullivan (Re) dec. Brian Rodriguez (A), 9-2. [54-12]
220: Bryan Lewis (Re) wbf. [60-12]
Glenelg 69, Atholton 6
106: Tim Null (G) wbf. [6-0]
113: Chris Winter (G) pin Sean Driver (A), 1:31. [12-0]
120: Parker Griffie (G) pin Andrew Valliere (A), 1:13. [18-0]
126: Zach Shackelford (G) pin Alec Lewin (A), 1:35. [24-0]
132: Mike Budock (G) pin Josh Pickens (A), 1:43. [30-0]
138: Ryan Carter (G) pin Sam Bernard (A), 2:25. [36-0]
145: Austin Pagnotta (G) tech. Philip Frazier (A), 16-1/3:45. [41-0]
152: Joe Zoller (G) dec. Zach Smith (A), 7-0. [44-0]
160: Troy Walter (G) dec. Jay Chung (A), 6-0. [47-0]
170: Pat Mullens (A) pin Nathan Hyer (G), :49. [47-6]
182: Matt Baxter (G) wbf. [53-6]
195: Austin Twigg (G) maj. Brian Rodriguez (A), 13-1. [57-6]
220: Craig Burris (G) wbf. [63-6]
285: Sean Twigg (G) wbf. [69-6]
Glenelg 40, Reservoir 24
113: Troy Kilcarr (Re) pin Chris Winter (G), 3:13. [0-6]
120: Trent Kilcarr (Re) dec. Parker Griffie (G), 8-2. [0-9]
126: Joe Quattrone (Re) dec. Zack Shackelford (G), 6-3. [0-12]
132: Mason Kilcarr (Re) pin Harry Rahn (G), 1:07. [0-18]
138: Mike Budock (G) dec. Hans Wicklein (Re), 2-0. [3-18]
145: Ryan Carter (G) maj. Paul Quattrone (Re), 16-5. [7-18]
152: Austin Pagnotta (G) pin Stephen Sims (Re), 1:17. [13-18]
160: Joe Zoller (G) pin A.J. Strott (Re), 2:56. [19-18]
170: Wes Beattie (Re) dec. Troy Walter (G), 6-1. [19-21]
182: Matt Baxter (G) dec. Bryan Glueck (Re), 8-4. [22-21]
195: Michael Sullivan (Re) dec. Austin Twigg (G), 8-3. [22-24]
220: Craig Burris (G) pin Bryan Lewis (Re), :46. [28-24]
285: Sean Twigg (G) pin James Clements (Re), :53. [34-24]
106: Tim Null (G) maj. Tyler Ponton (Re), 14-2. [40-24]