The venue may have changed, but the result remained the same as Mount Saint Joseph won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association wrestling tournament for the third straight year.
Moving the tournament from St. Joe to Gilman School didn’t faze the Gaels, who placed 10 wrestlers in the championship finals and produced six champions.
The Gaels amassed 332 team points, easily outdistancing McDonogh (243), who had five individual champions.
It was the 31st Lehigh Cup won by the Gaels since the tournament started in 1942.
Loyola Blakefield (175), Spalding (173) and St. Paul’s (163) rounded out the top five.
St. Paul’s added two individual titles and Archbishop Spalding had one crown.
St. Joe’s Chris Barnabae was the first Gael to jump to the top of the podium as he pinned Loyola Blakefield’s Shawn Strand in 3:30.
It was his fourth pin of the tournament and earned him Most Outstanding Wrestler for the second year in a row.
“I was just trying my best to get points, get on top and work for the pin,” Barnabae said. “It was still pretty hard, he was going at me, he’ s a really good wrestler.”
Nathan Porter (126 pounds) followed Barnabae’s pin with a 4-2 decision over Spalding’s Paul Truntich.
Trailing 2-0 late in the second period, Porter scooted away for a escape with two seconds left.
An early escape in the third period and takedown with 54 seconds left earned him the win.
Connor Strong (145) was the third Gael champ, nipping St. Paul’s Max Hammond, 2-1.
“I tried to focus on my game plan and I didn’t do a great job of getting into my offense, but that was one thing I wanted was to get in my offense,” said Strong, who finished second last year.
The junior from Monkton has appreciated the way his teammates have bonded this season.
“It’s really cool being a part of it, every day everybody is in the room putting in time and everyone on the team really cares for each other, so it’s really like a brotherhood, so it’s really special to be a part of,” Strong said.
St. Joe coach Harry Barnabae couldn’t agree more.
“They are working together, each one of them, to excel, there are no jealousies between them,” he said. “There is a great chemistry in the room and the work ethic is contagious.”
Zach Phillips (160), Justin Henry (182) and Isaac Righter (285) certainly caught the winning fever and they were the other Gael champs.
Phillips’ win was the most dramatic.
He trailed St. Paul’s Dylan Blau 6-4 with 15 seconds left, when the pair was called to the center of the mat after going out of bounds.
With two seconds left in the third period, Phillips got a takedown.
Two seconds into overtime he got another takedown for an 8-6 decision.
Henry decisioned McDonogh’s Jackson Bonitz, 5-1, and Righter pinned Loyola’s Bennett Traurig in 59 seconds.
Righter, who lost in the semis last season, used that loss as motivation.
“It absolutely was,” said Righter, who spent time working on his moves. “I’ve really been doing a lot of shots in practice because I didn’t hit a lot last year, so this year that’s what I’ve been working towards, shots, double legs, just becoming an all-around wrestler.”
Barnabae has seen his growth.
“He had a lot of raw ability last year, but now he is implementing what he was shown last year and he’s doing a phenomenal job,” he said. “We are real excited about his progress and determination to do the best he can.”
The four finalists for the Gaels included: Matthew Jun (138), Chris Roybal (152), Jonathan Short (170) and Parker Warner (220).
Joe Couch (106), Jacob Wright (113), Clement Woods (132) and Ethan Stern (195) all finished third for the Gaels as no St. Joe grapplers placed lower then third.
McDonogh had seven finalists and Cooper Flynn (113), Ray Kable (132), Harrison Trahan (152), Dominic Solis (170) and Garrett Kappes (220) emerged as champs.
It was the fourth straight MIAA title for Kable.
Top-seeded senior Rick Couch, of Spalding, defeated third-seeded Jun, 6-0, in the 138-pound finals, for his first MIAA crown.
“I felt really comfortable, but I knew I had to keep my pace high to keep a grind on him,” Couch said. “I wanted to win this tournament, I wanted to come here and show up, show out and win.”
He was one of four finalists for Spalding and the only champion.
Brady Pruett (106) lost to St. Paul’s Nasir Wilkinson, at 106, by an 8-4 decision.
Pruett cut it to 6-4 early in the third period, but Wilkinson countered with a takedown with 1:20 left and secured the win.
“I saw him shoot more, work harder and that just gave me a wakeup call,” Wilkinson said.
The other champion for St. Paul’s was Jack Parr, but it wasn’t easy for the senior to defend his MIAA title.
He had several timeouts for a bloody nose, but was leading 4-2 late in the third period when McDonogh’s Jack Wimmer tied it on a takedown with one second left.
Parr ended it in overtime with a takedown 15 seconds later.
Individual championship results
106: Nasir Wilkinson (SP) dec. Brady Pruett (AS), 8-4
113: Cooper Flynn (McD) dec. Will Guida (SP), 3-2
120: Chris Barnabae (MSJ) pin Shawn Strand (L), 3:30
126: Nathan Porter (MSJ) dec. Paul Truntich (AS), 4-2
132: Ray Kable (McD) dec. Joe Fisk (AS), 7-2
138: Rick Couch (AS) dec. Matthew Jun (MSJ), 6-0
145: Connor Strong (MSJ) dec. Max Hammond (SP), 2-1
152: Harrison Trahan (McD) dec. Chris Roybal (MSJ), 7-4
160: Zach Phillips (MSJ) dec. Dylan Blau (SP), 8-6 OT
170: Dominic Solis (McD) dec. Jonathan Short (MSJ), 7-3
182: Justin Henry (MSJ) dec. Jackson Bonitz (McD), 5-1
195: Jack Parr (SP) dec. Jack Wimmer (McD), 6-4 OT
220: Garrett Kappes (McD) dec. Parker Warner (MSJ), 7-2
285: Isaac Righter (MSJ) pin Bennett Traurig (L), :59