Trailing 18-0 after the first three weight classes would have been doom and gloom for the Lansdowne High wrestling team in the previous two seasons. But this season the Vikings have veteran leadership, young talent and nearly all the weight classes filled.
They rallied for a convincing 51-24 victory over host Loch Raven on Thursday night.
“It’s the best feeling,” said Lansdowne’s third-year coach George Dunn, whose Vikings were 1-12 in dual meets in each of the previous two seasons.
“My goal is at least five wins,” said Catonsville resident Dunn, a day before the match.
Senior Tavon Stanley has loftier goals.
“We want to do something big this year,” said the 145-pounder. “I’m expecting big things from everybody.”
He started doing his own big thing in the highlight match of the night with Loch Raven sophomore Dawuan Jones.
The pair flipped and flopped and traded takedowns, reversals and back points for the first four minutes of the match.
At the end of the period, Stanley led 12-10 and he was on bottom for the final period.
Jones never turned him over and Stanley emerged with the two-point victory that pulled the Vikings within 18-9 in the midst of scoring 49 unanswered points.
“He was strong so I had to just keep fighting,” Stanley said. “I had him and he was fighting hard and got back, so I had to keep fighting hard. I couldn’t go down.”
His strategy paid off in the third period.
“Start of the third I made a decision, I’m not going on my back at all, no matter what,” he said. “I like those kinds of matches because you really get to push yourself.”
Loch Raven assistant coach Zach Harris, filling in for head coach Anthony Menegatti, who tore his Achilles tendon the day before the match, was impressed with his rookie grappler Jones.
“It’s his first year of wrestling and he’s just got a whole lot of athleticism,” Harris said. “He’s got a lot of fine tuning to do, but he could be really good. It was an exciting match.”
Viking seniors Romario Orellano (171) and Russell Cunningham (182), who both won with pins, have some fine tuning to do after missing the entire season last year and they look like they are well on their way.
Orellano suffered a concussion during the 2012 football season and has worked tirelessly building his strength.
“He has done a lot in the weight room,” Dunn said. “He’s chiseled and he’s got a lot of heart.”
Seeney-Cunningham broke his arm on the football field after qualifying for the state tournament as a sophomore.
The arm didn’t heal properly, so they had to surgically re-break it.