McDonogh coach Pete Welch called it a victory that was almost a decade in the making.
The Eagles have slowly built their wrestling program to a point that it's a rival for any of the other top schools in the state. Just one week after beating perennial power Mount St. Joseph to capture their first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship in four years, the Eagles held off the Gaels again yesterday to win their first Maryland private schools tournament.
McDonogh, the host school, finished with 248.5 points, eight better than Mount St. Joseph and 59.5 ahead of third-place Archbishop Curley. While the Eagles had only three individual champions, they managed to come out ahead on the strength of eight other wrestlers who finished in the top six.
"We've been second in about eight of the past 10 tournaments, and this was the one we really wanted to get this year," Welch said, "We've been working hard all year. The kids have been focused and really wrestled well. It's big for us. It's a great way to finish up."
Bryn Holmes came up big for the Eagles again at 152 pounds, winning his third straight private schools title by pinning Drew Pappas of Progressive Christian. Josh Fitch took a 4-2 decision over Tyler Scarinzi of Curley (112) and Joe Breen (140) recorded a 19-6 victory over James Davies of Loyola for his second straight title.
"I think I've gotten stronger and have become more mature as a wrestler," Holmes said. "Our whole team, especially the freshmen, has just picked it up this year."
Mount St. Joseph had five individual titlists, the most of any of the 27 teams that competed. The Gaels had won the previous four private school tournaments.
It was the last private schools tournament for Gales senior Mack Lewnes, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation at 160 pounds, a three-time state champion and four-time MIAA titlist. Yesterday, Lewnes dominated Grady Gamble of Boys' Latin in his final, 22-7.
"I felt pretty confident that I was going to do well in the tournament," Lewnes said. "You can't let that go to your head, though, because that's when you don't win. You have to stay confident, but not cocky."