Like many wrestlers who took the mat during Saturday's heated rivalry match between No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph and No. 2 McDonogh, Gaels 152-pounder Zach Phillips was bruised and battered after another slugfest dual meet.
He had ice wrapped around his ribs and his surgically repaired shoulder held tight to his chest as he listed his injuries: bruised ribs, strained core muscle, bad shoulder. But the junior also knew he wouldn't be the one to cost his team a victory. Not against McDonogh.
"I just knew I wasn't losing. I didn't want my team to lose. Go hard to die trying," said Phillips, who scored a pair of big moves from neutral and a reversal with 10 seconds remaining to edge Alex LaVeck, 11-10. "Coach told me I got to win. No matter what, I got to win."
Phillips' tight victory was one of eight bouts Mount Saint Joseph won in a 33-23 victory over the Eagles. It's the third straight year the Gaels (7-1) have defeated their rival after McDonogh (10-1) won the previous six meetings.
For Mount Saint Joseph coach and alumnus Harry Barnabae, beating the Eagles always has special meaning.
"It's a tremendous rivalry going back 45 years," he said. "These are phenomenal matches. We knew this was going to be a battle; it always is coming in here. It pretty much went as expected. Every match was pretty much a battle."
Phillips' victory all but sealed the Gaels' victory, as his decision gave his team a 30-20 lead with two bouts remaining, and Jonathan Scott prevented Dominic Solis from winning a major decision at 160 pounds to clinch it.
Just as crucial were a pair of early toss-up matches that went the Gaels' way. After David Schultz (182) kicked off the match with a pin in 2 minutes, 21 seconds, Austin Stith (195) broke a 1-1 tie in the third period with a single-leg takedown with a minute to go. He held on to beat Jack Wimmer, 3-1, to extend the team lead to 9-0, and Keagan Rill (220) followed with another tight victory over his rival, Parker Robinson.
Robinson was the aggressor early, but Rill battled out of two near takedowns to keep the match tied at 1 heading into the final stages of the third period. Like Stith, Rill earned a takedown, only his came with 5 seconds remaining to clinch a 3-1 win.
"Austin Stith came out with a huge win and Keagan Rill came out with an extremely big win," Barnabae said. "Him and Robinson have split matches before and it always goes down to the wire. I was really proud of our seniors being able to step it up without out heavyweight Isaac [Righter]."
"We needed some things early on that didn't quite go our way," McDonogh coach Pete Welch said. "At 195 and 220 and a couple of matches where we thought we could get bonus points but we didn't, which to their credit they stayed tough. It's good kids on both sides and good competition."
The highly anticipated match between Righter and defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champion PJ Mustipher of McDonogh didn't come to fruition, as Righter came down with the flu Friday. He pinned Mustipher at the Beast of the East tournament earlier this year, but on Saturday Mustipher earned a forfeit to get the Eagles on the board.
Cooper Flynn (106) picked up a 16-0 technical fall for McDonogh to cut the deficit to 12-11, but Mount Saint Joseph answered, as Chris Barnabae (113) earned his 18th pin of the season to extend the lead to 18-11. A forfeit to Clement Woods (120) and a 12-6 decision from Nathan Porter (126) made it 27-11 in favor the Gaels, but the Eagles slowly chipped away from there.
Ray Kable (132) secured a takedown in overtime to edge Connor Strong, and decisions from Caden Mareno (138) against Seth Fillers and Grant Gorvett (145) against Chris Roybal cut the team deficit to 27-20.
That's when Phillips took the mat and scored a four-point move in the second period and a five-pointer in the third to take a 9-5 lead. However, he gave up a reversal and a second injury timeout allowed LaVeck to choose his position, and he pounced on the opportunity with an escape and a takedown to take a 10-9 lead. Phillips answered the takedown in a hurry with a match-winning reversal.
"He's been battling with an injury for the last two weeks and it's very painful," Harry Barnabae said. "We know Alex LaVeck is so tough — he can cradle anybody from anywhere — but he showed heart. We needed that victory to seal the dual meet, so I was really excited about Zach."
Mount Saint Josephs' Justin Henry (170) beat Garrett Kappes, 3-2, to solidify the win.
No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph — 33, No. 2 McDonogh — 23
182: David Schultz (MSJ) pinned Jackson Bonitz (McD), 2:21 [6-0]
195: Austin Stith (MSJ) dec. Jack Wimmer (McD), 3-1 [9-0]
220: Keagan Rill (MSJ) dec. Parker Robinson (McD), 3-1 [12-0]
285: PJ Mustipher (McD) fft. [12-6]
106: Cooper Flynn (McD) tech fall Frankie Antonelli (MSJ), 16-0 [12-11]
113: Chris Barnabae (MSJ) pinned Mohammed Ndiave (McD), 1:13 [18-11]
120: Clement Woods (MSJ) fft. [24-11]
126: Nathan Porter (MSJ) dec. Sean Scott (McD), 12-6 [27-11]
132: Ray Kable (McD) dec. Connor Strong (MSJ), 3-1 OT [27-14]
138: Caden Mareno (McD) dec. Seth Fillers (MSJ), 10-4 [27-17]
145: Grant Gorvett (McD) dec. Chris Roybal (MSJ), 5-1 [27-20]
152: Zach Phillips (MSJ) dec. Alex LaVeck (McD), 11-10 [30-20]
160: Dominic Solis (McD) dec. Jonathan Scott (MSJ), 8-4 [30-23]
170: Justin Henry (MSJ) dec. Garrett Kappes (McD), 3-2 [33-23]