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2019-20 Baltimore-area high school wrestling preseason Top 15 poll

MSJ Clement Woods shakes hands with coach Harry Barnabae after defeating St. Mary's Ryken Blake Jury. Mount Mat Madness wrestling tournament at Mount Saint Joseph High School on Saturday, December 29.
MSJ Clement Woods shakes hands with coach Harry Barnabae after defeating St. Mary's Ryken Blake Jury. Mount Mat Madness wrestling tournament at Mount Saint Joseph High School on Saturday, December 29. (Ulysses Munoz / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The Top 15

1. Mount Saint Joseph

Coach: Harry Barnabae, ninth season

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Last season: 14-0, No. 1

Postseason: MIAA tournament champion, MIS tournament champion, third at National Preps

Outlook: The Gaels enter the season with four Division I commits and two nationally ranked wrestlers, and they remain the class of the area and the state. Their lineup simply has no holes, and they’re deep enough to overcome any potential injuries. They are ranked No. 28 in the country by InterMat.

2. McDonogh

Coach: Pete Welch, 27th season

Last season: 18-6, No. 2

Postseason: MIAA tournament runner-up, MIS tournament runner-up, seventh at National Preps

Outlook: The Eagles expect to compete with Mount Saint Joseph for the top spot in the MIAA again this winter. They feature four MIAA champions and two finalists to pair with a talented freshmen class that will make an immediate impact in the lineup.

3. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Mike Laidley, 19th season

Last season: 33-4, No. 3

Postseason: Fourth at MIAA tournament, third at MIS tournament, ninth at National Preps

Outlook: The Cavaliers have another young but talented squad and will have a full lineup for the first time in a while. MIAA and MIS state runners-up Brady Pruett and Joe Fisk return with title aspirations.

4. Loyola Blakefield

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Coach: Steve Truitt, 15th season

Last season: 17-6, No. 6

Postseason: Third at MIAA tournament, fifth at MIS tournament, 25th at National Preps

Outlook: The Dons have three freshmen who placed at junior league states last year and four returners who finished in the top seven at the MIS state tournament. They will compete for a top-three finish in the MIAA.

5. C. Milton Wright

Coach: John Thornton, fourth season

Last season: 18-6, No. 13

Postseason: UCBAC tournament runner-up, 3A North region dual runner-up

Outlook: The Mustangs have been building for this season and beyond for more than three years now, and their window to win the UCBAC conference and the 3A North region is open. They return two-time state champion James Riveira and two-time third-place state finisher Constantinos Gourgoulianis to a deep lineup, and coach John Thornton called it their best team in school history.

6. Sparrows Point

Coach: Mike Whisner, 15th season

Last season: 33-2, No. 9

Postseason: Baltimore County tournament runner-up, 1A North region dual champion, 1A state duals finalist

Outlook: Few public school teams in the area have had the type of recent success of the Pointers. They bring back “12 guys who could make some noise in the postseason tournaments,” said coach Mike Whisner, who added this might be their most solid lineup in his 15 seasons.

7. Dunbar

Coach: Douglas McClain, eighth season

Last season: 30-3, No. 11

Postseason: Baltimore City tournament champion, 1A North region runner-up

Outlook: The perennial city power boasts two state runners-up in Jalen Jones and De’Airus Carr as part of a lineup that features nine state qualifiers. Poets coach Douglas McClain believes he has five wrestlers with a “great chance” of winning a state title.

8. Old Mill

Coach: Jim Grim, 15th season

Last season: 21-9, No. 14

Postseason: Co-Anne Arundel County tournament champion, 4A East region dual semifinalist

Outlook: The Patriots have won the Anne Arundel County tournament two years in a row and four of the last six years, and they should be the favorite again this winter with a solid lineup with strong upper weights.

9. Glenelg

Coach: Matt Bichner, seventh season

Last season: 23-1, No. 4

Postseason: Howard County tournament runner-up, 2A South region dual champion, 2A state duals finalist

Outlook: The Gladiators have won 44 straight Howard County dual meets and are 100-7 since the start of the 2015 season with four straight region dual titles and three consecutive state duals finals appearances. They lost two state champions from their lineup but won’t fall too far with state champ Drew Sotka back to go with four JV county champs and six other varsity returners. Moving to the 2A West region will be a challenge, however.

10. South River

Coach: John Klessinger, 20th season

Last season: 30-5, No. 12

Postseason: Co-Anne Arundel County tournament champion, 4A East region dual champion, 4A state duals finalist

Outlook: The Seahawks have consistently battled with Old Mill for the top spot in Anne Arundel County and will do so again this season with 12 guys back with varsity experience. Filling the holes left by longtime starters Ka’Ron Lewis, a state champion, and Trenton Puccinelli will be key.

11. Winters Mill

Coach: Eric Meszaros, first season

Last season: 15-9, NR

Postseason: Carroll County tournament champion, 2A West region dual semifinalist

Outlook: The Falcons have high hopes for this season under first-year coach Eric Meszaros. In addition to state finalist Zach Kirby, they return state placer Colby Unkart and three county champions or finalists.

12. South Carroll

Coach: Matt Thomas, third season

Last season: 14-8, NR

Postseason: Second at Carroll County tournament

Outlook: The Cavaliers have one of the best freshmen classes in the area, so expect them to be better in February and March than December. They also return state finalists Ryan Athey and Antonio Bradford and will be one of the strongest tournament teams around.

13. Oakland Mills

Coach: Brad Howell, 22nd season

Last season: 18-5, No. 10

Postseason: Howard County tournament champion, 2A South region dual finalist

Outlook: The Scorpions’ move to the 2A West region will be a difficult adjustment after years in the easier 2A South, especially with how many wrestlers they traditionally use early in the season. However, they will still be in the mix with three key returning state qualifiers and how coach Brad Howell prepares his team for the stretch run.

14. Owings Mills

Coach: Ryan Mackin, second season

Last season: 24-5, No. 8

Postseason: Baltimore County tournament champion, 2A North region dual champion, 2A state duals semifinalist

Outlook: The Eagles were hit hard by graduation, transfers and injuries, but it’s hard to count them out with a pair of two-time state champions in Phil Smith and Alex DuFour. They should still qualify for the 2A North region duals and be in the state championship conversation if they remain healthy and their young wrestlers continue to improve.

15. Hammond

Coach: Will Yeo, fifth season

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Last season: 26-5, NR

Postseason: Fourth at Howard County tournament

Outlook: The Golden Bears have one of the best coaching staffs in the area and had strong participation throughout the offseason program. Overcoming the loss of four state qualifiers and five starters will be a challenge, but they expect to compete with Glenelg and Oakland Mills for the top spot in Howard County.

Others considered: Chesapeake-AA (26-4), Franklin (17-13), Hereford (23-9), River Hill (21-9), Southern-AA (14-8)

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