Many view wrestling as solely an individual sport. Two teams, but 14 wrestlers versus 14 wrestlers to decide the outcome.
In reality, at least to those who develop a better understanding of the intricacies of the sport, wrestling is the ultimate team sport. It takes a collective group effort to win any dual meet at any level, and momentum is a real thing, as McDonogh showed at home Friday night against rival Mount Saint Joseph.
“People overlook the team aspect in wrestling,” Eagles coach Pete Welch said. “We really try to make it a team sport, and events like this really show it is a team sport, and momentum is huge in a dual meet, getting guys fired up because they see the guy before you go and do something great. It gives you confidence.”
In a reversal of last year’s dual meet, a fully loaded No. 2 McDonogh got off to a blistering hot start and never trailed to beat top-ranked Mount Saint Joseph, 41-25, for the first time since 2015.
None of the current Eagles had ever defeated the Gaels in a dual meet, which senior Jack Wimmer says is the perfect way to complete his final match in the Rollins-Luetkemeyer Athletics Center in Owings Mills.
“This is the match we were looking forward to the whole season,” Wimmer said. “We knew that it would come down to this. ... To beat them here in our own gym, it’s awesome. It feels amazing.”
Mount Saint Joseph (10-1) won four of the first five bouts and never trailed in last year’s 40-22 win over the Eagles. On Friday, undefeated McDonogh (18-0) returned the favor, as their “Murderer’s Row” from 182 pounds to heavyweight set the tone early.
Dominic Solis (182) built a 10-0 lead after one period before pinning Gavin Dixon in 3 minutes, 18 seconds, and Jack Wimmer (195) scored the last three points in a 5-2 decision over Parker Warner, a matchup the Gaels wanted to avoid but couldn’t because they lost the coin toss.
Jackson Bonitz (220) steadily increased his lead and eventually beat Gavin Bage via a 9-1 major decision. After Maryland commit Garrett Kappes (285) was awarded a forfeit, McDonogh led 19-0.
“Dominic, Garrett and Jack are wrestlers through-and-through, and they study the craft and keep finding ways to get better, and they’ve really, really shown it for four years,” Welch said. “The one that amazes me is Jackson Bonitz, who is the rare breed and a three-sport athlete. … He’s probably the toughest kid I’ve ever seen.”
Wimmer said the four seniors have been practicing together since freshman year and they all live together in the dorms. He described their bond as “special.”
“We’ve got that personal connection between us,” Wimmer said. “… We know the four of us, we’re going to win, win, win win, and we all know it too. We all trust each other and trust that we’re going to win.”
Mount Saint Joseph coach Harry Barnabae said, as is always the case when these two teams meet, there would be ebbs and tides, momentum shifts and moments to overcome. Ultimately, his grapplers couldn’t find a way to overcome the early deficit and win key matchups, and they failed to win any consecutive bouts.
“We knew we would have to weather some of those storms. The upper weights, they’re very strong,” he said. “We had our work cut out for us. They wrestled better than us tonight. They came prepared and they deserved the match. They were the better team today.”
Freshman Coleman Nogle (106) got the Gaels on the board with a quick fall, but Eagles freshman Joel Brown (113) had the answer. His pin built the lead back to 19, and nationally-ranked junior Cooper Flynn left no doubt on the mat, securing 10 takedowns in a 22-7 technical fall over the Gaels’ Jacob Wright.
A sign that little went Mount Saint Joseph’s way was still to come. Gaels senior Chris Barnabae (126) won a hard-fought 4-0 decision against sophomore Richard Fedalen, but any chances of a comeback seemed to fade when McDonogh freshman Clayton Gabrielson (132) nearly pinned senior Nathan Porter in an arm bar and settled for a 6-4 victory.
“Richard, for him to have a match like that against Chris, who’s clearly a really good wrestler, I think it gives him confidence, and it gave our team confidence,” Welch said. “And Clayton just has no fear, and it’s fun to watch him wrestle.”
A frustrated Clement Woods (138) cruised past Mohammed Ndiaye with a 25-10 technical fall but cost Mount Saint Joseph a team point with unsportsmanlike conduct. It didn’t make a difference anyway, as Matt Lawrence (145) sealed McDonogh’s win with a 9-5 victory against Matthew Jun.
“It’s awesome. It feels awesome to finally beat them after losing to them freshman, sophomore, junior year, especially on Senior Night, my last dual here,” Wimmer said. “It’s awesome to win the (MIAA) dual meet championship and also go undefeated in the dual season. It feels amazing.”
McDonogh 41, Mount Saint Joseph 25
182: Dominic Solis (McD) pinned Gavin Dixon (MSJ), 3:18 [6-0]
195: Jack Wimmer (McD) dec. Parker Warner (MSJ), 5-2 [9-0]
220: Jackson Bonitz (McD) major dec. Gavin Bage (MSJ), 9-1 [13-0]
285: Garrett Kappes (McD) fft. [19-0]
106: Coleman Nogle (MSJ) pinned Amadou Ndiaye (McD), 1:02 [19-6]
113: Joel Brown (McD) pinned Gabe Rupp (MSJ), 3:04 [25-6]
120: Cooper Flynn (McD) tech fall Jacob Wright (MSJ), 22-7 [30-6]
126: Chris Barnabae (MSJ) dec. Richard Fedalen (McD), 4-0 [30-9]
132: Clayton Gabrielson (McD) dec. Nathan Porter (MSJ), 6-4 [33-9]
*138: Clement Woods (MSJ) tech fall Mohammed Ndiaye (McD), 25-10 [33-13]
145: Matt Lawrence (McD) dec. Matthew Jun (MSJ), 9-5 [36-13]
152: Chris Roybal (MSJ) pinned Tripp Stone (McD), 2:44 [36-19]
160: Harrison Trahan (McD) tech fall Bradley Davis (MSJ), 15-0 [41-19]
170: Anthony Zancan (MSJ) pinned Aidan Hurdle (McD), 5:36 [41-25]
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*MSJ -1 team point for unsportsmanlike conduct