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Spalding wrestlers still developing

With just one senior on the roster, and a host of other wrestlers cutting down weight and coming over from the football team, Archbishop Spalding coach Mike Laidley has plenty to do to get his team ready for the winter season. St. Paul’s and John Carroll came to Severn Wednesday evening to test the young Cavaliers.

Archbishop Spalding did about as expected and split its matches, defeating John Carroll, 47-18, and losing to St. Paul’s, 48-24.

“We will be fine; we are comfortable with where we are,” Laidley said. “You can feel it developing, and we have a strong junior class. I like where we can be by the end of February.”

The Patriots came in a bit short-handed and did not trouble the Cavaliers or Crusaders too much. Druw Van Der Werff recorded two pins at his heavyweight position for John Carroll.

“They are banged up, which is unfortunate,” St. Paul’s coach Rob Eiter said.

Archbishop Spalding’s 120-pounder, PJ Truntich, who finished 42-7 last year, was held out of both matches ahead of a tournament this weekend, and the Cavaliers’ forfeit at that weight opened the final match of the evening with St. Paul’s. After losing a decision, Rick Couch picked up six points by forfeit at 132 pounds to get Archbishop Spalding back to 9-6. Imran Heard, one of several returning private-school state champions for St. Paul’s, bounded to the mat in the 138-pound match. The Rutgers-bound senior did not disappoint, pinning Nick Paolucci in 1:20.

“Imran is one of the most athletic kids I have ever seen,” Eiter said. “We have to calm him down a bit because he always brings that energy and excitement, but he is a ridiculous athlete. We are trying to hone those skills down ahead of college.”

Ryan Garretson won his second match of the meet with a 5-3 decision at 145 pounds for the Cavaliers. Garrett Fisk followed with his second win of the night at 152, by another decision. The two each had pins in the win over John Carroll.

With the Cavaliers trailing 15-12, Tyler Savage had a key matchup with St. Paul’s’ Dylan Blau at 160. Blau had two takedowns and an escape early in the match to take an early 5-0 lead. Savage wrestled back to within two at 9-7, but Blau closed out the match with an 11-7 decision and three key points.

“Tyler’s match is one I think we can turn around by the end of the season,” Laidley said. “This was not his best match. He wrestles really tough and his matches are always wide open, high scoring. That is one of a handful of matches that I felt could have gone either way.”

Dustin Radford followed with a pin at 170, his second win of the night. Despite trailing early, he was able to turn his opponent over early in the third period and ended the match with the fall at 4:33. A Crusaders forfeit at 182 gave Archbishop Spalding a 24-18 lead, but St. Paul’s picked up forfeits at 195 and 220 before John Urban, a 220-pounder wrestling at heavyweight, recorded a pin in 1:46. With another Archbishop Spalding forfeit at 106 pounds, the Crusaders clinched the match. Will Guida recorded a pin of Spalding’s Mitch Garretson at 113 to close the match. The forfeits meant that two-time national champion and top-ranked Kurt McHenry, along with Jack Parr, were unable to wrestle at all for the Crusaders.

“With Kurt, fortunately we have a good lightweight room, but for some of our talented heavyweights, like Jack, it can be tough,” Eiter said. “In the last four days he has gotten five forfeits, so he is a little frustrated right now. You need to make sure he stays in shape, so we will put him through extra workouts. That is why we have a competitive schedule. These guys have big goals. We will have the Beast of the East in a week and a half, and our guys have gotten into good shape with that meet as the early focal point.”

Laidley wished it would have been a bit later before St. Paul’s came on the schedule, but he still liked seeing where his team stood this early in the season.

“Although this is an early match for us, they took third in the states last year, and we took fourth, so we knew it was going to be tough,” Laidley said. “In the weight classes we did wrestle, I felt like we competed well. I am disappointed in how the match ultimately turned out, but I am excited to see what we look like down the road.”

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