For Sam Rowell, this wrestling season has been all about adjusting to a new situation. For teammate Dan Hawkins, it's all about adjusting to a new result — winning.
Rowell and Hawkins both went 7-0 on Friday and Saturday to help No. 2 Mount St. Joseph (11-0) capture the Cavalier Duals at Archbishop Spalding. The Gaels defeated No. 11 Loyola (10-2), 55-18, in the championship match.
The best individual match in the finals was the 195-pound bout between Hawkins and Loyola's Jake Nordhausen. The highly-competitive match was tied a 4-4 early in the second period, when Hawkins, who is ranked fifth in the state by the Maryland State Wresting Association, turned Nordhausen on his side.
After a brief struggle, Hawkins pinned eighth-ranked Nordhausen 3:22 into the match.
"I'd never wrestled him before, but I threw him with a body lock and I managed to pin him," Hawkins said. "He's a great wrestler, and a worthy opponent. I just kept waiting, and good things happened."
Good things have happened for the Gaels this year, too. The team has won four major tournaments, increasing their confidence. Hawkins, a senior, said he can sense the change in the wrestling room.
"At the start of the season, I wrote our lineup down on a napkin," Hawkins said. "When I looked at it, I knew we could be competitive with [top-ranked] McDonogh. The mentality on the team has changed this year, and it's been a lot of fun to be part of."
For Rowell, who was named most outstanding wrestler at the tournament, the change has been even greater. The junior transferred into the program from No. 12 Reservoir in Howard County, where he finished fifth in the state at 138 pounds last year.
He didn't even have to wrestle in the championship match yesterday, as the Dons chose to forfeit his weight class.
"I had no clue that we'd be this good," Rowell said. "Everything has been just perfect for me at Mount St. Joseph. I have great coaches, we have a new facility, and I feel like I am getting better every day. The goal is to peak at the end of the season, and I feel like I can do that."
Gaels coach Harry Barnabee said he has seen improvement in the team, but he can't point to any reason in particular.
"I can't really put my finger on one thing," Barnabee said. "I think the biggest reason is that the team comes first with these guys. The individual accolades come after that. Today was a great example of that. We're not quite where we want to be yet, but we are getting close. We just continue to get better and better."
Host Spalding, which won the third-place match over Frederick's Oakdale, 33-29, also had a significant milestone set today. Senior Logan Breitenbach, ranked No. 1 in the state at 160 pounds, in the semifinals set a school record by winning his 176th match.
Mount St. Joseph 55, Loyola 18
160: Rowell (MSJ) wbf; 170: Moreno (LOY) d Hendricks, 12-6; 182: L. Rill (MSJ) p N. Amaral, 2:35; 195: Hawkins (MSJ) d Nordhausen, 3:22; 220: Hurdle (LOY) d Barnabee, 12-4; 285: Covey (LOY) p Lowman, 1:53; 103: Oneto (MSJ) d Lala, 1:34; 113: O. Rill (MSJ) p Callahan, 2:30; 120: Woody (MSJ) d Reyes, 4-2; 126: Orem (MSJ) tf over Schmacher, 18-3; 132: Salvo (MSJ) tf over Smist, 15-0: 138: Moses (LOY) d Johns, 4-0: 145: Shuster (MSJ) p G. Amaral, 3:42; 152: Langeluttig (MSJ) tf over Johnson, 24-5.
Third place match
Archbishop Splading 33, Oakdale 29
Fifth place match
Salesianum (DE) 60, Oxford (PA) 9
Seventh place match
St. Mary's-Ryken 45, Marshall (VA) 34