A few weeks into the wrestling season, Mount St. Joseph coach Jay Braunstein began to question his decision to put his team through a grueling schedule that included three of the top 10 tournaments in the country.
"I really had second thoughts," Braunstein said. "I was worried that I was taking these kids out to the wolves."
But the decision paid off for Braunstein yesterday as his Gaels broke tournament records for points and finalists in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament at Mount St. Joe.
Braunstein's Gaels scored 311.5 points, put 11 wrestlers in the finals and had six titlists.
"After getting their butts kicked in the beginning of the year, it's really special to come back and win like this," Braunstein said.
No one stood out more for Mount St. Joe than 119-pounder Bruce Dulski, who became the first wrestler in MIAA history to capture four titles.
"There was a little bit of pressure," Dulski said after his 3-0 final-bout victory over St. Mary's Lou Ruland. "All I heard for the past week was about my fourth title."
Joining Dulski with tournament titles were teammates Greg Gold (103 pounds), Jon Kohler (125), Alex Ward (130), Mack Lewnes (152) and Kevin O'Connor (189).
Gold (33-9 record) won the award for team points scored with four first-period falls, including a 1:59 title-bout pin of Gilman's Maurice Fleming.
Lewnes (40-2) won his second MIAA title with all pins. O'Connor (26-8) beat Pallotti state champion Tim Jennings, 2-1. Ward improved to 24-10 with his 11-6 victory over two-time MIAA champion Rob Willey of McDonogh.
With his bout tied at 6 in the third period, Ward converted a double-leg takedown into a Turk for back-points and the victory.
"I'm just happy I can be part of this team," Ward said after the match.
McDonough earned 206.5 points for second place, crowning five champions, including 112-pounder Joe Breen, who upset Mount St. Joe state champion Andrew Gold.
Breen (34-2) battled back from a 5-2 deficit to tie the match at 5. With less than 30 seconds remaining, he countered a Gold reversal attempt and put the No. 1-ranked Gael to his back for an 8-5 victory.
Breen was voted the tournament's outstanding wrestler for becoming the first Maryland wrestler in nearly two years to defeat Gold.
"[Beating Gold] was one of my biggest goals this year," Breen said. "It was a tough match. I was thinking I was going to try to hold him and go into overtime, but then I saw the chin-whip was there and I just went for it."
Breen was joined on the winner's podium by teammates Cam Watkins (135), Rick Tippett (140), Bryn Holmes (160) and Jesse Sataloff (171).
Watkins (34-3) edged Mount St. Joseph's state runner-up Dave Dulski for the second time this year, 3-1, despite injuring his knee during the match.
"Even though I hurt my knee, I wasn't going to let up," Watkins said. "I just kept going and going."
Third-place Boys' Latin crowned a champion in 145-pounder Brian Saval, who beat Mount St. Joe standout freshman Jake Bohn, 4-2.
"[Bohn] is one of the best kids I've wrestled," Saval (23-5) said. "I knew this was the right time to peak. I knew I had to wrestle hard today and do my best."
Other champions were Curley's 215-pounder, Frank Spokus, and John Carroll's heavyweight, Zac Tschuelin, who pinned his way through the tournament, becoming the first wrestler from his school to win an MIAA title.