When the Lansdowne wrestling team holds its first home match of 2015 on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Vikings coach George Dunn will be eager to see the effects of a tough pre-holiday tournament on his wrestlers.
Dunn wanted to get an early read on his squad against some of the elite wrestlers in the state before the holidays, so he took his team to the Bladensburg Duals.
The Vikings placed eighth by winning three of eight matches, and Dunn came away most impressed with the work of Vikings sophomore Gorsha Reiterer, a 106-pounder who went 7-1 at Bladensburg and improved his season record to 9-3.
What Reiterer did against unbeaten Old Mill, ranked 12th in the Baltimore Sun poll, drew praise from his coach.
In the first bout of the match, Reiterer trailed, but rallied to pin his opponent. It was the only victory for the Vikings against Old Mill.
"It was a surprise," Dunn said. "He was getting beat by six or seven points. He just kept battling, got on top and powered him over."
Dunn hopes his younger wrestlers, which includes nine sophomores and two freshmen, follow the off-season lead of Reiterer.
"He's a lot more focused this year," Dunn said. "I think he's matured a lot. He's grown up, got stronger, hit the weight room all summer and he's hungry and he wants to win."
Reiterer, who wrestled junior league for several years with the Howard County Vipers, was 80 pounds as a freshman when he was a regional qualifier with a .500 record.
"He was just outmuscled and outmanned last year," Dunn said. "This year he came in weighing 110 pounds so he had to cut a couple pounds, but pound for pound, strength is not an issue. He's shorter than most of the guys, but if he gets inside, he can dominate. He has a great double leg takedown and good control."
While Reiterer may have has the most individual success at Bladensburg, Dunn is expecting better things from a deeper squad that will fill every weight class.
"Being able to fill the lineup has made a huge difference," Dunn said.
That enabled the Vikings to win half of their four league matches before the holiday, including a dual meet win over Western Tech.
"It's the first time we've beaten them since I've been here," said Dunn, in his third season as head coach.
Juniors Ronnie Bryant (152), Kennard Robinson (160) and Collin Murphy (170) all had pins against Western Tech.
Bryant and Robinson are both products of the Lansdowne Gators junior league wrestling program.
"I expect to see something out of those two this year," Dunn said. "They are going to be the other leaders of the team."
Another former Gator junior leaguer is freshman Herberth Franco (195), a former junior league state champion.
Franco is the younger brother of Arbutus Times Athlete of the Year Mauricio Franco who won a regional title last year and qualified for the state championship meet along with 2014 graduates Russell Seeney Cunningham and Romario Orellano.
That trio all peaked in their senior years and Dunn is hoping for the same from sophomores Raoul Meva (126), Luis Martinez (132) and Seth Hughs (138).
"By the time those sophomores are seniors, look out," Dunn said. "We have a good core of young guys that are buying into wanting to be winners."
All three of those sophomores also played football along with sophomores Stephon Pinkney (182) Jake Beck (182), Tom Weedon (220), junior Devlin Dixon (220), freshman James Alston (285), sophomore Andrew Tayman (285) and senior Kevin Williams (285) .
"All the big boys came right off the football field," Dunn said. "Coach [Sean] Murphy has really been pumping up all the football players to wrestle."
The Vikings roster also includes juniors Hunter Doyle (113) and James Minter (113), senior Chris Lancaster (120), sophomore Mason Doyle (120) and freshman Brandon Bloom (145).
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"If each person takes care of themselves, good things are going to happen," Dunn said.