Baltimore, MD — When senior Justin Henry wrestled his first match for Mount Saint Joseph more than three years ago, the Gaels were the underdogs in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association. McDonogh was largely the team to beat and ran the show, and adding salt to the wound was that the Eagles had won six straight duals against their rival dating back to 2010.
Henry won his 182-pound match to help the Gaels end that streak with a 41-24 win in January 2016 and kick-start the turn of the tide of the Baltimore-area historic rivalry. On Thursday, the similarities of that match three years ago were hard to miss, as Henry won his 182-pound match in a 40-22 victory over the visiting Eagles, only this time it’s the Gaels who have held MIAA supremacy as the three-time defending league dual champions.
“It’s a pretty good feeling,” Henry said of his team beating McDonogh for the fourth straight season. “When [the senior class] came in we hadn’t beaten them in like six years, so it felt good my freshman year but now it feels even better to cap it off.”
No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph (5-0 MIAA, 10-0 overall) only won eight of the 14 bouts against No. 2 McDonogh (6-1, 15-5) but pulled away because of bonus points. Five of its individual victories were falls or forfeits with another coming via a major decision, while the Eagles managed just one pin and a major decision.
“They were better than us today. I think we competed well in some weights but bonus points were huge,” said Eagles coach Pete Welch. “We won six bouts but a couple things didn’t go right for us ... but there’s a lot of wrestling left in the season. We’ve got a lot of things to improve on and I’m proud of our guys.”
Gaels coach Harry Barnabae credited the recent run of success to his upperclassmen, especially the junior class that includes four of their eight winners on the night.
“They’re battle tested and the core of our program, those juniors and seniors,” he said. “I think this team is really jelling together and that nucleus is excelling. Every week they get better and better.”
Mount Saint Joseph, which is ranked No. 26 in the country by InterMat, never trailed in the dual. Junior Isaac Righter (285), a champion at the Beast of the East this season who is ranked No. 9 in the country by FloWrestling, pinned Cody Williams in the first period, and Joe Couch (106) was awarded a forfeit with McDonogh star freshman Richard Fedalen still ailing from an injury.
Reigning state champion Cooper Flynn (113) got the Eagles on the board with a fall, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way. MIAA champion Chris Barnabae (120), who is ranked No. 15 in the country by FloWrestling, closed in on his pursuit of 100 pins by sticking Na’im Baker in just nine seconds to push the lead back to 12.
Another junior and MIAA champion, Nathan Porter (126), held a 5-0 lead over Mohammed N’diaye after two periods but turned it on in the final period and won, 21-7, before McDonogh’s MIAA champion Ray Kable (132) secured a late takedown to break a tie and beat Clement Woods, 3-2.
A major decision from Sean Scott (138) cut the Eagles’ lead to 22-13 but Mount Saint Joseph pulled away when junior Chris Roybal (145) won a decision and Bradley David (152) and senior Zach Phillips (160) secured falls. Just like that, the lead was insurmountable at 37-13.
“A lot of these matches were really close but this is a pinning team,” Harry Barnabae said. “We’ve already eclipsed the number of pins we had last year this season and they’re constantly working for the fall. I think that’s a testament to their work ethic.”
Eagles’ MIAA champion Dominic Solis (170) and Henry, also a reigning MIAA and state champion, traded decisions, and Jack Wimmer (195) and Garrett Kappes (220) closed out the dual with four-point wins.
Like Welch, Harry Barnabae was quick to point out there is a long way to go in the season still. He wasn’t ready to put the crown on anybody’s head just yet but added that his team is healthy and prepared for the final stretch.
“We knew tonight was going to be a battle. It always is,” he said. “McDonogh going to recuperate and come back at us at the MIAAs and the states, and I think this was a great match tonight for both teams to get us prepared for the end of the season.
“But my guys really do take each week and each competition like the old adage: one at a time. And that’s what we need to do, just look ahead of us.”
No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph (10-0) — 40, No. 2 McDonogh (15-5) — 22
285: Isaac Righter (MSJ) pinned Cody Williams (McD), 1:46 [6-0]
106: Joe Couch (MSJ) fft. [12-0]
113: Cooper Flynn (McD) pinned Jacob Wright (MSJ), 3:31 [12-6]
120: Chris Barnabae (MSJ) pinned Na’im Baker (McD), 0:09 [18-6]
126: Nathan Porter (MSJ) major dec. Mohammed N’diaye (McD), 21-7 [22-6]
132: Ray Kable (McD) dec. Clement Woods (MSJ), 3-2 [22-9]
138: Sean Scott (McD) major dec. Mathew Jun (MSJ), 12-2 [22-13]
145: Chris Roybal (MSJ) dec. Ryan Leventhal (McD), 9-3 [25-13]
152: Bradley David (MSJ) pinned Aidan Hurddle (McD), 1:40 [31-13]
160: Zach Phillips (MSJ) pinned Harrison Trahan (McD), 3:08 [37-13]
170: Dominic Solis (McD) dec. Jonathan Short (MSJ), 4-0 [37-16]
182: Justin Henry (MSJ) dec. Jackson Bonitz (McD), 6-3 [40-16]
195: Jack Wimmer (McD) dec. Ethan Stern (MSJ), 7-3 [40-19]
220: Garrett Kappes (McD) dec. Parker Werner (MSJ), 8-4 [40-22]