Centennial knew getting a victory over St. Paul’s, one of the toughest MIAA schools in the state, was going to be a difficult task on Monday.
While that turned out to be true, as the Crusaders pulled away to win their first dual of the season, 41-16, all eyes were on the 160-pound match featuring Eagles senior Austin Kraisser and St. Paul’s junior Dale Tiongson, who lives in Laurel and is districted to attend Reservoir High School.
Kraisser, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the state by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, and Tiongson, who is No. 5, are familiar foes, having been practice partners throughout the summer.
For Kraisser, the match started off similar to how his championship bout at Mount Mat Madness started – a scoreless first period – but he earned an escape early in the second period to take a 1-0 lead.
Kraisser looked to be close to securing a takedown late in the second but was called out of bounds and entered the final period holding a one-point advantage. In the third, though, Kraisser was in his dominant position on top and was able to hold Tiongson down for the entire two minutes to seal a 1-0 victory.
“These have been toughest two matches in a row in my high school career besides last year being at Ironman,” Kraisser said. “These two guys [Tiongson and Fauquier’s Garrett Tingen] were really tough and both were close matches. ... I feel pretty good. I feel like I wrestled a better match today than I did last week at Mount Mat Madness. He wrestled a strategic match, we got in a couple scrambles and I should have had that takedown at the end of the second period. I’ve got to find a way to get those, especially against these really good kids.”
Crusaders coach Greg Hagel said he was impressed with how Tiongson, who is in his first season at St. Paul’s after transferring from Good Counsel, wrestled and that he stuck to his game plan.
“I think he wrestled a great match – I think both guys really went after it,” he said. “I saw A-level performance out of both guys, and it was pretty cool having both guys go after it and having some of their best days. I’m really proud of how he wrestled.”
Though Kraisser pulled out another close victory, it was one of just four matches the Eagles won. Jason Kraisser (132) cruised to a commanding 11-1 major decision to get Centennial on the board, while Ammar Narmouq (145) held off a late rally by Dominic Piazza to earn a 12-6 decision. Dwight Leiva (152) earned a forfeit for the Eagles.
“We were slowly improving as the season went on and then we hit the tough stretch with Mount Mat Madness and St. Paul’s, but our next tournament is at Franklin and I think all of our guys have a legitimate chance to place there,” said Centennial coach Cliff Kraisser. “Christmas break is over, New Year’s is over and now we start working with our eyes on the county season.”
As for the Crusaders, who are ranked No. 3 by the The Baltimore Sun, this was their first dual meet of the season after a grueling tournament schedule that included trips to the country’s best tournaments like Beast of the East and Powerade.
“I thought it was exciting to see our team as a unit for once to see how we are as a team,” Hagel said. “I think there’s a lot of good things, but there’s still little things our guys can improve on. I am excited about their effort today and I think we’re showing we’re well-trained and ready to get after it in the MIAA schedule.”
Among the standouts for St. Paul’s were freshman Kurt McHenry, who is ranked No. 1 by the MSWA at 106 pounds and notched a 22-9 victory over Cameron Neilon at 113, and two-time state and MIS champion Daniel Planta, a junior who pinned Jacob Blyukher in the first period.
“I think every time we step on the mat we have the ability to go toe-to-toe,” Hagel said. “I’m not too set on wins and losses; I’m set on the type of wrestlers we are and how intense we wrestle on the mat. I think our guys are attaining those. ... Tonight I saw a lot of great things, but again I think there’s little details we focus on in practice that we need to work on and we need to harp on those. But I saw guys who were ready to get after it.”
Cliff Kraisser, who coached alongside Hagel on the Maryland National Team, thinks St. Paul’s will be one of the toughest teams to beat going forward, especially with the young talent throughout the roster.
“They’ve got a really good coaching staff and Greg [Hagel] will have them ready,” he said. “It’s funny because I looked at the roster and half their team was Jason’s teammates with the Warhawks, so he’ll get those young guys ready.”
St. Paul’s (1-0) 41, Centennial (2-3, 4-11) 16
106: Double forfeit [0-0]
113: Kurt McHenry (SP) major dec. Cameron Neilon (C), 22-9 [4-0]
120: Daniel Planta (SP) pinned Jacob Blyukher (C), 1:41 [10-0]
126: Everette McDuffie (SP) major dec. Chris Baker (C), 10-2 [14-0]
132: Jason Kraisser (C) major dec. Nick Dintino (SP), 11-1 [14-4]
138: Dylan Blau (SP) dec. Savya Konkalmatt (C), 7-1 [17-4]
145: Ammar Narmouq (C) dec. Dominic Piazza (SP), 12-6 [17-7]
152: Dwight Leiva (C) fft. [17-13]
160: Austin Kraisser (C) dec. Dale Tiongson (SP), 1-0 [17-16]
170: Jack Parr (SP) pinned Parker Subasic (C), :55 [23-16]
182: Collin Martin (SP) fft. [29-16]
195: Noah Kalishman (SP) pinned Lucas Shapiro (C), 3:48 [35-16]
220: John Urban (SP) pinned David Uribe (C), 3:07 [41-16]
285: Double forfeit [41-16]