Team points weren't kept at the Friends wrestling tournament two weekends ago, but Southwestern had so many individual champions that theemcee declared the Sabers "the next Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference champions."

"The kids really took offense at that," said St. Mary's coach Brad Best, whose Saints downed Southwestern, 39-31, yesterday to come a step closer to winning their second consecutive MSA B Conference dual-meet title.

On Tuesday, the Saints play host to Mervo -- a team whose only loss came against the Sabers, 44-28 -- before facing Dunbar in an as yet unscheduled make-up match.

"I have to confess, at the beginning of the season, I really didn't give these kids much of a chance of repeating this year," Best said. "But I'm really proud of these kids."

The Sabers trailed, 36-19, with three bouts left and needed pins in every remaining match to win.

But St. Mary's Kevin Donnelly (171pounds) won a wild bout with Darnell Jones, 12-9, to put the match mathematically out of reach, 39-19.

Top-ranked 189-pounder Walter Reed (19-0) and heavyweight Stanley Davis then recorded first-period pins for the Sabers.

"I thought I had to win my match because I knew the rest of their guys were tough," said Donnelly, who improved to 18-8. "I'm a senior, and it's great to win this twice in a row."

The win came after a big week in which the Saints (9-2 overall, 7-0 league) posted victories over Annapolis Area Christian School, 60-11, Forest Park, 41-32, and Northern, 44-28.

The Sabers (6-1) were 12 points in the hole before the match began because they were missing two starters, including fourth-ranked Caldwell Veale (140), who tore the Achille's tendon in his right leg in practice Tuesday.

Veale (16-1), whose only loss was against Old Mill's top-ranked Brent Layman, 11-8 in overtime, is out for the season.

The Sabers forfeited thatweight class as well as the 160 class.

Southwestern took a 10-6 lead after sandwiching Derrick Wilhite's 103-pound pin and Montez Shelton's 119-pound major decision around a pin by St. Mary's Chris Chase(112).

But the Saints registered pins to sweep the next three bouts for a 24-10 lead.

Don Cipriani (125) built a 12-0 lead before pinning his opponent with 36 seconds left. Then Phil MacWilliams (130)and Mac MacWilliams recorded first-period pins.

Dom Souza took the 140-pound forfeit and the Sabers trailed, 30-10.

"We've been aiming our practices at them all week and I think we just wanted it morethan they did," said Cipriani, a junior. "Our attitude was right there for this one. We were really ready mentally."

Southwestern camewithin 30-19 after an 8-1 decision by Keir Hicks (145) and a pin by Joe Gamble (152), but the 160-pound forfeit made the score 36-19 as the Saints closed in for the kill.

"On paper, I had figured out that we wouldn't give up any pins in the lower-weight matches," said Southwestern coach Bernie Leneau. "I had given us a pin from Shelton anda 3-0 win by 119-pounder Everette Harris, but neither of those things happened. (Cipriani) looked a lot better than when we saw him at Friends."

The MacWilliams brothers, Phil (19-5) and Mac (24-3-1), were the only winners in the Saints' 54-7 loss to No. 6-ranked Broadneck Monday. St. Mary's only other loss came against fifth-ranked Annapolis.

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