In George Dunn’s first two seasons as Lansdowne High’s head wrestling coach, the Vikings won one out of 13 dual meets each year.
Things have changed dramatically since he started in 2011.
Dunn, now in his seventh season, just guided the 2017-18 Vikings to a perfect 14-0 record in dual meets.
That comes one season after they finished 13-1 and hosted the dual-meet regional tournament.
On Feb. 7, the Vikings will travel to Bel Air High (14-0) for the Class 3A North Region tournament as the second seed.
Bel Air earned the top seed because they won the tiebreaker, which went to the fourth criteria. The higher seed goes to the team who had the bigger point differential against common opponents.
Bel Air defeated Perry Hall by 69 points, 73-4, and Lansdowne defeated them by 63, 72-9.
Lansdowne finished its perfect season with a dramatic stretch run.
On Jan. 25, the Vikings trailed Franklin by eight points with two weight classes remaining, and they got a pin from freshman Riley Bozeman, at 106 pounds, and major decision from senior Desean Hunter, at 113, and emerged with a 35-33 victory.
“All the pressure was on and even with some big upsets and Franklin had some big upsets, we were still able to come back and win it in the end,” Dunn said. “Bozeman and Hunter, all the pressure in the world was on their shoulders.”
They took a break from dual-meet action a day after the Franklin match and participated in the two-day SnOverlea Invitational Tournament at Overlea High, but they didn’t take a break from winning.
They placed second in the tournament behind Oakland Mills.
“This is the first year we have ever brought hardware home from a tournament,” Dunn said. “We took 10 guys and nine guys placed (top six). It was awesome.”
Hunter (24-3, 113 pounds), sophomore Jacob Lipscomb (24-2, 120) and freshman Kyree Briscoe (27-2, 170) were champions.
Junior Anthony Brown (16-9, 182) and senior Damond’ Tez Rawlings (20-6, 132) placed third.
Junior Peyton Collins (15-14, 138) and senior James Alston (24-6, 285) were fourth, senior Matt Mendes (20-7, 152) was fifth and senior Herberth Franco (19-9, 195) took sixth.
The second-place finish in the tournament took its toll and the Vikings came into its final tri-meet, on Feb. 1, against Bowie and Western Tech with some grapplers nursing injuries.
That didn’t stop them from defeating Bowie, 39-38, and following up with a 43-30 triumph over the Wolverines.
Against Bowie, the host Vikings trailed 32-12 with six weight classes remaining, but they scored 27 unanswered points on pins by Briscoe (170), Franco (195), Brandon Nguyen (220) and Alston (285), and a 1-0 decision from Brown (182), to build an insurmountable 39-32 lead with one weight class left.
“It was exciting,” said Alston, a team captain along with Hunter, Rawlins and Mendes. “I needed to step up and I got a single [leg] and just took him down. I clinched the victory.”
Franco preceded Alston with a pin, and after the match he enjoyed hearing the Vikings finished 14-0.
“It sounds great, especially because it’s part of the Vikings history,” said Franco, whose older brother, Mauricio, was a sophomore on Dunn’s first Lansdowne team that went 1-12.
Against Western Tech, the Vikings got pins from Hunter (120), Collins (138) and Mendes (152), an 11-0 major decision from Lipscomb (120), and a 4-1 victory by senior Austin Sparrow (195).
Bozeman (106), Jocelyn Martinez (113) and Briscoe (170) were awarded forfeits.
Western Tech’s Mohammed Sow (145), Tony Joshua (160), Jonathan Jacobs (182) and Ike Kalu (220) all won with pins.
Kalu, who finished first at the SnOverlea Invitational, improved to 23-1.
Osman Sherif (132) won a 6-4 decision and Edmond Harrison (285) prevailed, 8-1, for the Wolverines.
After the two matches, Dunn had a message for his squad.
“I told them congratulations, it [perfect season] has never been done at Lansdowne as far as I know, but we’ve still got work to do,” Dunn said. “We’ve got to get ready for the regional duals and the county tournament.”
That didn’t hide the fact that fact that he is extremely proud of how his team came together and what they accomplished.
“Our team is like a family, we’ve got each other’s backs and we put it together in the end,” Dunn said. “This is the best team I’ve ever coached.”