2018-19 Baltimore-area high school wrestling preseason Top 15 poll

Tim Schwartz
Contact ReporterBaltimore Sun Media Group

1. Mount Saint Joseph

Coach: Harry Barnabae, eighth season

Last season: 18-1, No. 1

Postseason: MIAA tournament champion; MIS tournament champion; fifth at National Preps tournament

Outlook: The Gaels went undefeated against MIAA competition last year in the regular season and followed that by winning the MIAA and MIS tournaments. They return six wrestlers who competed in the MIAA finals of their weight classes: Chris Barnabae, Connor Strong, Seth Fillers, Jonathan Short, Justin Henry and Isaac Righter.

2. McDonogh

Coach: Pete Welch, 26th season

Last season: 22-3, No. 2

Postseason: MIAA tournament runner-up; MIS tournament runner-up; fourth at National Preps tournament

Outlook: The Eagles have the talent to end Mount Saint Joseph’s MIAA run and get back on top of the league. They return state champions Cooper Flynn and Dominic Solis, as well as finalists Garrett Kappes and Ray Kable, to pair with an influx of talented freshmen who could make runs at postseason titles.

3. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Mike Laidley, 18th season

Last season: 11-6, No. 5

Postseason: Fourth at MIAA tournament; fourth at MIS tournament; 10th at National Preps tournament

Outlook: The Cavaliers have a strong senior class headlined by P.J. Truntich, Garrett Fisk, Rick Couch and Tyler Savage, which could make them a dangerous team in dual meets and tournaments. Freshman Brady Pruett, the younger brother of state place-winner Drew Pruett of Atholton, will make an immediate impact.

4. St. Paul’s

Coach: Rob Eiter, third season

Last season: 10-4, No. 3

Postseason: Third at MIAA tournament; third at MIS tournament; seventh at National Preps tournament

Outlook: The Crusaders have one of the best wrestlers in country in senior Kurt McHenry, and his supporting cast continues to improve. McHenry, Jack Parr, Wil Guida, Nasir Wilkinson, Max Hammond and Dylan Blau are among the favorites to win league and state titles, but there are also a lot of holes in the lineup, which will cost them in dual meets.

5. Glenelg

Coach: Matt Bichner, sixth season

Last season: 22-1, No. 4

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

Outlook: The Gladiators have been the Baltimore area’s best public school team over the past few years but have yet to find a way to beat Damascus and win a state duals title. They have another shot at accomplishing that this year with state champion Jared Thomas, state finalist Sam Alsheimer and state placer Jacob Jones — all seniors — headlining a steady lineup.

6. Loyola Blakefield

Coach: Steve Truitt, 14th season

Last season: 14-8, No. 14

Postseason: Fifth at MIAA tournament; fifth at MIS tournament; 24th at National Preps tournament

Outlook: The Dons have been among the top five teams in the MIAA for several years now and have the potential to improve thanks to a strong freshman class and several MIAA-contending returners in Shawn Strand, Josh Aybar, Ian Takes and Bennett Traurig. Aybar and Traurig finished third at the state tournament, and Takas placed fifth last season.

7. Dunbar

Coach: Doug McClain, seventh season

Last season: 20-4, No. 15

Postseason: Baltimore City tournament champion; 1A North Region dual finalist

Outlook: Senior heavyweight Jorden Pryor has already solidified himself as the best wrestler ever to take the mat in Baltimore City as the only two-time state champion, but his supporting cast has also taken big steps. Sophomores Jalen Jones and Camerin Deville placed second and fourth, respectively, at last year’s state tournament, and junior De’airus Carr and senior Lamar Simpson are also potential state placers.

8. Hammond

Coach: Will Yeo, fourth season

Last season: 32-6, No. 13

Postseason: Fifth at Howard County tournament; 2A South Region dual semifinalist

Outlook: The Golden Bears have made huge strides in short time under Yeo, who took over a team that won two matches in 2014-15 but has improved its win totals to seven, 21 and 32 in duals last winter. Now, after a strong offseason program, it has its sights set on taking down Glenelg for authority in Howard County, and will be counting on third-place state finisher Loic Tueguo and four other state qualifiers.

9. South River

Coach: John Klessinger, 19th season

Last season: 21-7, No. 11

Postseason: Third at Anne Arundel County tournament; 4A East Region semifinalist

Outlook: The Seahawks have perhaps the three best public school wrestlers in Anne Arundel County in returning state champion heavyweight Ka’Ron Lewis, third-place finisher Isaac Barber and fifth-place finisher Trenton Puccinelli, but they will also have to fill several holes with young, inexperienced wrestlers. They will be contenders for the county dual and tournament titles, and also for the state dual meet championships in the 4A classification.

10. Old Mill

Coach: Jim Grim, 14th season

Last season: 19-2, No. 6

Postseason: Anne Arundel County tournament champion; 4A East region dual champion

Outlook: The Patriots followed a regular-season loss to South River by winning the county tournament and avenging their defeat in the 4A East Region dual semifinals before taking down North Point in the finals. They have shot at winning it again this year with third-place state finisher Ryheam Tull leading the way.

11. Owings Mills

Coach: Ryan Mackin, first season

Last season: 29-4, No. 8

Postseason: Baltimore County tournament runner-up; 2A North Region dual champion; 2A state duals semifinalist

Outlook: The Eagles aren’t shying away from competition this season, as they are set to face McDonogh, Archbishop Spalding and last year’s 3A state duals runner-up Mount Hebron in nonleague dual meets and are attending the Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic in Pennsylvania. It could cost them a shot at regional duals, but expect returning state champions Phil Smith and Alex DuFour and third-place finisher Roell Ngounou to be battle-tested again come tournament time.

12. Bel Air

Coach: Craig Reddish, 26th season

Last season: 31-1, No. 10

Postseason: UCBAC tournament champion; 3A North Region dual champion

Outlook: The Bobcats have won the UCBAC five years in a row and eight of the past 11 years, and with 12 returning starters, they are favored to do so again. Two-time state champion Brent Lorin returns for his senior season, while regional champions Trevor Lorin and Sincere Montgomery will help make the senior-laden squads one of the area’s best dual-meet teams.

13. C. Milton Wright

Coach: John Thornton, third season

Last season: 16-7, not ranked

Postseason: Third at UCBAC tournament; 3A North Region dual runner-up

Outlook: The Mustangs were the first Harford County team to crown two state champions in more than 25 years, and they have a chance to do it again this season. They return state champion James Riveira and two other state place-winners, including John Carroll transfer Constantinos Gourgoulianis, and have a pair of freshmen who were junior league state finalists.

14. South Carroll

Coach: Matt Thomas, second season

Last season: 12-11, not ranked

Postseason: Carroll County tournament champion

Outlook: The 2017-18 season was a down year for the Cavaliers, who had won four straight 2A-1A state tournament titles but struggled to win dual meets. Still, they are primed for a rebound this winter with 2017 state champion Travis Crawford, as well as state placers Cam Werner and Tyler Harbison, back in the fold for their senior seasons.

15. Sparrows Point

Coach: Mike Whisner, 14th season

Last season: 28-4, No. 7

Postseason: Baltimore County tournament champion; 1A North Region dual champion; 1A state duals runner-up

Outlook: The Pointers have become one of the area’s best public school teams over the past few years and have reloaded this season with several younger wrestlers with junior league experience. They return six wrestlers who have state tournament experience, with senior Mike Fouts being the veteran of the group.

Others considered: Atholton (10-6), Hereford (18-8), Mount Hebron (23-4), Oakland Mills (11-8), River Hill (23-8), Winters Mill (17-4)

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