One of the qualities that makes McDonogh stand out among the elite wrestling programs in the Mid-Atlantic region is its willingness to compete against top-level teams.
The Eagles not only deal with a tough Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference schedule, but also wrestle in several major tournaments that attract strong teams from other states. In yesterday's 37th annual Raymond B. Oliver Invitational at McDonogh, the second-ranked Eagles finished third with 185.5 points behind powerful St. Mark's of Delaware (300.5) and Colonial Forge of Virginia (240.5).
"This tournament used to be where our kids knew they would have success," McDonogh coach Pete Welch said. "Now, you look at it after a couple of years and our kids knew they were going to have to fight like everywhere else. The success we've had the past couple of years brought some of these teams in because they want to compete with us. We finished third, but we probably could have been fifth, or second. There is just great competition."
No. 4 Old Mill also had a strong tournament, finishing fourth. Sophomore Ron Vaughters was perhaps the story of the tournament at 135 pounds after beating the fourth, second and top seeds en route to the championship. He defeated Matt Buckworth of St. Mark's in the final, 4-1.
"I knew I had to go hard out there," Vaughters said. "I wrestled smart, and I wrestled my hardest. You can't do anything if you don't go your hardest."
Old Mill's Aaron Hawkins made the final at 285, where he narrowly lost to Bobby Telford of St. Mark's, 3-1.
Centennial freshman Nathan Kraisser had an impressive tournament at 103. Kraisser was matched up against a tough opponent, Anthony Kotoriy of Langley (Va.), but came away with a pin at 5:32. Centennial finished 11th overall with 91 points.
"I knew that I would be in better condition than him," Kraisser said. "My goal was to put pressure on him the whole time. I wanted to get a good lead and finish strong."
Alex Pagnotta of McDonogh won the tournament championship at 189 pounds with a 10-3 decision over Whitt Kelly of Gilman, which finished 12th overall (91). Shane Milam of McDonogh lost the final at 171 in a 7-6 decision to Marc Heathcock of Hermitage (Va.).
In other finals, Brendan Conway of Glenelg lost to Michael Garofalo of Colonial Forge by a technical fall, 23-8, at 125. At 130, Ian Squires of Colonial Forge pinned Giancarlo Simmons of Gilman at 1:48. Codey Combs of Sussex Central (Del.) defeated McDonogh's Eric Filipowicz, 6-0, at 140.