The Lansdowne High School wrestling room includes a wall of fame of former standout wrestlers and their accomplishments. Featured are county championships, regional titles and highest finishes in the state tournament.
Vikings coach George Dunn, in his third season, is ready to add to that wall, and he has a number of candidates eager to follow his lead.
“I present it to them like a challenge,” Dunn said. “They want to be part of that hall of fame.”
The last name on the wall was Greg McCoy, who won Baltimore County and regional titles in 2011.
After winning one dual meet in 13 matches in each of the first two seasons, the coach has higher expectations.
“My goal is at least five wins and maybe more,” Dunn said.
The Vikings got off to a strong start when they won their first dual meet of the season, 51-30, at Loch Raven on Dec. 5.
The four leaders on the squad -- seniors Romario Orellano (170), Russell Cunningham (182), Mauricio Franco (195) and Tavon Stanley (145) -- won at Loch Raven.
Orellano, Cunningham and Franco pinned their foes and Stanley won the most exciting match of the night, 12-10, over Duwaun Jones at the 145-pound weight class.
“I had him and he was fighting hard and got back, so I had to keep fighting hard because I couldn’t go down,” Stanley said. “We want to do something big this year. I’m expecting big things from everybody.”
Orellano and Cunningham are eager to make up for last year when both had to sit out because of football injuries.
Orellano, a junior varsity Baltimore County runner-up as a sophomore, suffered a concussion and has worked hard to build up his strength.
“He has done a lot in the weight room and conditioning-wise,” Dunn said. “He’s chiseled and he’s a tough kid with a lot of heart and a lot of drive.”
Cunningham had a broken arm last season after qualifying for the state tournament as a sophomore. The arm didn’t heal properly so doctors had to surgically re-break it.
“He’s got a little bit of that ‘It’ factor,” Dunn said. “He’s a go-getter and he always lands on the right spot.”
Cunningham pinned Bobby Lease, fifth in the county tournament last year, early in the second period. “It was great to see those guys come back after being off a year and get some big wins,” Dunn said.
Franco has been waiting patiently for the Vikings to be competitive and this might be the year. “We expect a lot of good things from the team this year,” Franco said.
Dunn praised the senior before the season opener. “He is just a big strong kid and he’s a leader in the room,” Dunn said.
The four seniors are expected to set the tone for the season. “Our goal is to get to the state tournament and they can all push each other,” Dunn said.
But the rest of the squad might make some noise as well.
Sophomore Ronnie Bryant (138), junior Collin Murphy (160) and senior Erick Juarez (220) won forfeits against Loch Raven, but they could do some damage. “Murphy has shown a lot of growth in his second year of wrestling,” Dunn said.
And two of the talented underclassmen made strong debuts against the Raiders.
Sophomore Kennard Robinson (152) and freshman Georgy Reitterer (103) both had second-period pins.
Franco is eager to bring the talented underclassmen along and create a winning environment.
“It’s like us teaching them how to do it,” he said. “We expect a lot of good things from the team this year.”
Dunn agrees. “It’s huge with all that experience coming back because those other kids look up to that and that is where I want to be.”
First-year freshmen Wonyae Rogers (113) and Raoul Meva (120), Seth Hughes (126) and junior Richard Westcott (285) also got their first starts against Loch Raven.
Westcott was filling in for heavyweight Kevin Williams until he can make weight.
It demonstrated the added depth Dunn has this season.
That depth includes senior Eli Horton (182), junior Mario Garcia (182), sophomore Hunter Doyle (106) and freshmen Jacob Beck (170), Mason Doyle (106), Kelvin Guido (152), Shawn Jacker (195), Luis Martinez (152) and Rakim Petree (160).
“This is the most talented team I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Dunn said.