Until being recruited to wrestle by a teammate two months ago, Damascus' Luke Rohwer had rarely even seen a mat.
But in yesterday's match at No. 9-ranked Calvert Hall, the former swimmer helped save the three-time state champions, ranked No. 4 in Maryland, from losing a dual meet for only the second time in three years.
Rohwer (189 pounds) trailed Jerry Dziecichowicz, 5-4, before getting a reverse-cradle for the pin with 1: 16 left for an overall 30-28 Damascus lead. Heavyweight Matt Chaney's first-period fall then secured a 36-28 victory.
"This is all so new to me. I tried to look like I had it together, but I really didn't," said Rohwer. "It's all thanks to the Lord; I couldn't have done it without Him."
Injuries and other circumstances left Damascus (1-0) minus five starters, and the Cardinals (0-1) without four, but the match did not lack intensity as Calvert Hall trailed 24-9 before mounting a four-bout sweep for a 28-24 lead with two bouts left.
Leonard Manfredo (160, 5-1) had a first-period pin, Mike Light (152) -- coming off a bout with the flu -- scored a 14-6 decision, and Sean Kelly (171) registered an 11-7 decision over Mike Napier that included five takedowns. But the surprise was unheralded Sean Ireland (145), who trailed 8-0 when he headlocked Chris Richards for a fall in 5: 22.
The visitors led, 12-0, after three bouts, sparked by Brandon York (103), who trailed 2-0 early, but pinned Chris Tucker in 2: 28.
Damascus' No. 3-ranked Kevin Potter (112), a fourth-place state finisher last year, used three takedowns in a 6-2 decision of state runner-up Chris Hanlon to avenge a loss of a year ago. And state champion Brandon York (119) downed Tony Russo, 8-1, in a bout that was scoreless until York beat the buzzer with three near-fall points to end the second period.
Calvert Hall's Phil Gouel (125) won a pivotal bout, 2-0, over the Hornets' Jon Lerner on a reversal with 25 seconds left. Then, with 54 seconds left, No. 4 Rob Johns (130, 8-0) scored his sixth pin of the season against the Hornets' No. 2 Joey Garvin, a third-place state finisher. For Johns, an Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champ who was third at states last season, it was the third win over a ranked wrestler.
Damascus' Milo Belich (135) took a forfeit when Calvert Hall's No. 6 Pete Angelone had a family emergency, and No. 4 Sean O'Neill pinned in 3: 29.
"We were really pumped up today, but we had some misfortune," said the Cardinals' Johns, who beat co-No. 6 wrestlers Matt Yinger (Francis Scott Key) and Paul Boettcher (Curley) previously. "Angelone's a team captain but couldn't be here because of his uncle's passing."
Pub Date: 12/12/96