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McDonogh set to defend 'Mat' title

The Baltimore Sun

Some of the finest high school wrestling on the East Coast will be showcased here this weekend at the fifth annual Mount Mat Madness Invitational.

A field of 29 teams covering four states - Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia - will compete in the two-day tournament, which begins at 2:30 p.m. today at CCBC-Catonsville. The tournament will continue at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, with the championship finals set for 7:30 p.m.

Top-ranked and defending champion McDonogh tops the list of 12 area teams and appears primed to defend its crown. The Eagles bring back defending tournament champions Nick Schenk (119 pounds) and Shane Milam (152), and also have top seeds in Milam and Lane Clelland (285) along with seven others seeded eighth or better.

"It's awesome to have such a great tournament right here in our own neighborhood. Not only is it a chance to see some of the area's top public schools we normally wouldn't get a chance to wrestle, but there's also a lot of quality teams coming from out of state," McDonogh coach Pete Welch said. "Our goal is always to wrestle the toughest competition we can find to get better as a program, and if we can win it again, that would just be a bonus to the weekend."

Other area teams in action are No. 3 Glenelg, No. 4 Archbishop Curley, No. 5 Mount St. Joseph, No. 6 Hereford, No. 10 Old Mill, No. 14 South Carroll and Boys' Latin, Calvert Hall, Hammond, Harford Tech and Severna Park. Mount St. Joseph's Frankie Goodwin earned the top seed at 112 pounds, and Hereford's three-time state champion Josh Asper has the top spot at 171.

"It's great to have a really tough tournament in the middle of the year like this, so I don't have to look all the way at the end of the year for something to push me during practice," said Asper, who will be making his first appearance at Madness. "It makes me push myself that much more right now, and my goal is to do the best I can and win the tournament."

As for the overall team race, the biggest threat to McDonogh should come from Pennsylvania-based Wyoming Seminary. Last year, Wyoming Seminary finished runner-up to the Eagles by a 200-151.5 margin, and it has six wrestlers seeded third or better in their respective weight classes this year. McDonogh is already one up on Seminary this season, winning at last month's Caruso Invitational at St. Benedict's in New Jersey.

"Great teams will be there, but very rarely have I seen at Mount Mat Madness a great team like McDonogh come in with just a fully stacked team," said Eagles 130-pound senior Ben Levin, who is seeded second in his weight class. "But actually, Wyoming Seminary has a very good team, too."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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