Mount St. Joseph's crowns four champs and wins MIAA title.
Mount Saint Joseph, McDonogh and St. Paul’s each crowned four individual champions and Archbishop Spalding won two titles at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference wrestling tournament, but it was the host Gaels who piled up the bonus points and won the team title for the second year in a row.
The Gaels finished with 287 points and McDonogh (253), St. Paul’s (201.5), Spalding (173.5) and Loyola Blakefield (144) rounded out the top five.
“The entire team set the tone,” Mount St. Joe coach Harry Barnabae said. “They’ve worked really hard this entire season. Our goal was to win the MIAA’s for the second year in a row and it’s a stepping stone to the states next week.”
The Maryland Independent Schools State tournament will be held at Harford Community College, Feb. 16 and 17.
In the finals, Mount St. Joe got first-period pins from sophomore Chris Barnabae (113), over Archbishop Spalding sophomore Mitch Garretson, and Austin Stith (195), over McDonogh’s Jackson Bonitz.
Stith won all four of his matches in the tournament with falls, including three in the first period, and that was his goal.
“There is no doubt about it,” Stith said. “McDonogh was closing in on us a little bit earlier in the tournament and we got all the guys together and we said ‘We’ve got to get some bonus points,’ and that’s all I was thinking all about, bonus points, bonus points, how many pins can I get, we had to get the bonus points, and everybody played their part and I’m proud of my team.”
His other motivation was last year’s MIAA tournament.
“Last year, I got second and I was just determined that I was never going to let that happen again,” Stith said.
“Austin has had a phenomenal year,” Barnabae said. “He’s really improved since last season and his work ethic is showing it. He came in to this tournament to dominate and he did just that, so we expect that.”St. Joe’s other champions were Nathan Porter (126) and Justin Henry (170).
Porter won a 5-2 decision over Spalding’s Sam Smirnoff and Henry nipped McDonogh’s Garrett Kappas, 3-2.
The Gaels four other finalists lost in the finals.
Connor Strong (132) lost a 3-1 decision to McDonogh’s Ray Kable when Kable got an escape early in the third period to tie the match and takedown with 12 seconds left to win it.
Seth Fillers (138) lost a major decision to St. Paul’s Imran Heard, 17-7.
St. Joe’s David Schultz (182) lost to St. Paul’s Jack Parr, 1-0, and his teammate, Keegan Rill (220), lost in overtime to McDonogh’s Parker Robinson, 3-1.
Other top six finishers for the champion Gaels included: Frankie Antonelli (4th, 106), Clement Woods (4th, 120), Chris Roybal (4th, 145), Zach Phillips (4th, 152), Jonathan Short (4th, 160) and Isaac Righter (3rd, 285).
Righter pinned Loyola’s Bennett Traurig in 1:55 in the consolation finals, but the much-anticipated match between top-seeded Righter and second-seeded PJ Mustipher never happened because Righter was pinned by John Carroll’s Dru Van Der Werff in the first period in the semifinals.
“Any given day. Hopefully, next week we will get past the semifinals and PJ and Isaac will have a rematch that everybody is going to be excited to see,” Barnabae said.
“Wrestling is wrestling, it’s going to happen, so whatever happens, happens,” Mustipher said. “I always have to be prepared and ready to go and ready to win.