"Too young," said some critics of this year's Mount St. Joseph wrestling team, which set out to win its 17th Maryland Scholastic Association dual meet and tournament titles.
"Too inexperienced," others said of the youthful squad, which has just four seniors, five juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.
But there were few dissenters last night, when the host and No. 2-ranked Gaels wrapped up the first half of their goal -- the dual meet crown -- with a 43-17 victory over the visiting Gilman Greyhounds (8-5 overall, 7-2 in the A conference).
"Everybody expects Mount St. Joseph to blow everybody out. It took us a while to get there, but now we're on a roll," said St. Joseph coach Paul Triplett, whose Gaels (13-1, 9-0) go after the MSA tournament crown next weekend at Gilman, which edged the Gaels, 29-28, two years ago.
Pinning for the Gaels were David Inkman (103), Russell Fecteau (119), fifth-ranked Chad Votta (140, 26-3), who planted his 20th opponent, top-ranked junior Kevin Neville (152, 27-2), who notched his 21st fall in just 35 seconds, and Sean Ruane (189).
In two of the best bouts of the evening, Gilman's No. 2-ranked John Kim (135, 27-0) scored a 3-1 decision over defending MSA champ Shane McCarthy, and the Gaels' No. 6-ranked freshman Danny DeVivo (145, 27-4) held on for a 17-9 major decision over veteran Mark Shavers.
Paul Scott (125) won a 9-1 major decision from Gilman's Mike Henke, and Gaels' heavyweight Dave Sunderland edged Dave Shapiro, 3-2.
No. 5-ranked Gerard Harrison (112, 25-4) scored a fall for Gilman, Jamie Biddison (160) and Steven Lim (171) won decisions, and Alex Slagle (130) battled the Gaels' Joe Aiosa to a 1-1 tie.
"At the beginning of the season, we didn't really have the unity," said Votta, a senior. "We're wrestling confidently now, but this was my last home match and I'm going to miss these guys."