Zeke Salvo knows how far the Mount St. Joseph wrestling program has come. He also knows the hard work it will take to get it a little further.
Mount St. Joseph ruled the A Conference wrestling ranks for many years before returning to the pack, but the No. 2 Gaels are making a statement this year, taking the program back to its heyday.
The team (4-0) put in a workman-like effort Tuesday night at Spalding, first defeating Calvert Hall, 60-17, then recording a convincing, 45-27, win over No. 9 Archbishop Spalding.
"Spalding is always a strong team, and we knew it would be a challenge," said Gaels coach Harry Barnabee. "Each match was a hard-fought battle, but we pulled it out in the end. Our hard work is paying off."
The best match of the night took place in the 138-pound weight class. With the score tied 3-3, Spalding's Mat Van Scoyoc used a takedown in the closing seconds to defeat Mount St. Joseph's Brent Johns, 5-3. The win made the match score 42-12, but the outcome was already determined by that point.
Salvo credits an early-season victory over No. 3 John Carroll as a catalyst for the team. The Gaels won, 34-33, on a tiebreaker over one of the powerhouses of Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference wrestling.
"We knew it would be a challenge to wrestle them, and it was," said Salvo, ranked No. 1 in the state at 126 pounds by the Maryland State Wrestling Association. "We had to overcome some adversity in the match, and I think that helped us. It kind of set the tone for the season."
Since then, the Gaels have won three tournaments (The War on the Shore in Salisbury, the Charger Classic at Lackey, and Mount Madness at UMBC), and Barnabee loves the effort he is seeing.
"The kids are improving every week, and they have a great work ethic," Barnabee said. We have some great senior leadership with Salvo, [Dan] Hawkins, [Shane] Lowman and Vinny Gumba. They work hard together every day. I can truly say that it's been a team effort for us."
Salvo admitted that he sometimes has thoughts of the ultimate prize; defeating top-ranked McDonogh and winning the A Conference championship.
"All of the seniors are talking about it," Salvo said of the showdown with the reigning A Conference champions. "It would be great to go out with a bang and maybe even shock the world."
In the first match of the evening, Spalding (3-6) recorded a 48-23 win over Calvert Hall (1-4).
Spalding 48, Calvert Hall 23
Mount St. Joseph 60, Calvert Hall 17
Mount St. Joseph 45, Calvert Hall 27
182 – Parker (AS) d L. Rill, 3-1 ; 195 – Hawkins (MSJ) wbf; 220 – Barnabee (MSJ) wbf; 285 – Lowman (MSJ) p Kreczmer, 3:39; 106 – Gorey (AS) p. Oneto, 3:32 ; 113 – O. Rill p. Quick, :45; 120 – Woody (MSJ) p Limar , :29; 126 – Orem (MSJ) wbf ; 132 – Salvo (MSJ) wbf; 138 – Van Scoyoc (AS) d Johns, 5-3 ; 145 – Pente (AS) wbf ; 152- Pearson (AS) d Shuster, 3-2 ; 160 – Breitenbach (AS) wbf; 170 – Rowell (MSJ) d Lucente, 4-1.