Mount St. Joseph's Kevin Neville knows that every time he steps on the wrestling mat against Southwestern's Joe Gamble, he's in for a rough battle.
Twice in the past two Chesapeake tournaments, Neville, the Maryland State Wrestling Association's top-ranked 152-pound wrestler, had to go the distance against Gamble (38-2), winning by four points each time. Yesterday at Gilman School, he defeated Gamble, 8-4, to win the Maryland Scholastic Association title.
"I knew it was going to be a war -- just like the last couple of times," said Neville (30-2, 24 pins). "I didn't see any of my teammates wrestle, but I knew they lost. They told me when I came out from warming up that it was up to me to win."
Although the No. 2 Gaels (257 points) breezed to their 17th tournament crown, out-distancing second-place Loyola (192), they were 1-for-6 in championship bouts until heavyweight Dave Sunderland stepped up. The 225-pound junior dethroned St. Paul's defending champion Troy Thinglestad (23-3), 7-1, to give the Gaels their second champ.
"He pinned me the last time, and I had only beat him once," said Sunderland (26-7). "We had only had one champion, and that's not our style. The opportunity was there, so I took it."
Southwestern (seventh, 122.5) finished highest among B and C conference teams and took home the B-C trophy. Mervo (10th, 96) was next.
Dunbar coach Damon Mathews had been the youngest Poet to win a title, doing it as a sophomore in 1975. He watched freshman Bruce Pendles (103, 18-0) break his record, winning, 4-3, over Mount St. Joseph's David Inkman (26-8). Pendles, a junior league state champ last year, used a second-period four-point reversal to overcome a 2-0 deficit and held off Inkman to win.
"I was real nervous," said Pendles. "But I just waited for him to make a mistake and then capitalized."
Another Gaels wrestler, Joe Aiosa (130), lost, 3-1, in overtime to St. Mary's Phil MacWilliams (26-3), who became his school's second MSA champion.
The next two Gaels were defending champions who dropped rematches to wrestlers who had beaten them earlier. Gilman's top-ranked John Kim (135, 31-0) edged the Gaels' Shane McCarthy, 3-1, and Archbishop Curley's Gary Mryncza (26-0) overcame a 5-3 deficit with his pin of Chad Votta (28-4) in 3:59. Mryncza, last year's 130-pound champ, was chosen the tournament's outstanding wrestler.
"My objective was to keep it close with him," said Mryncza. "I couldn't let him rack up points. He's good at that."
Friends' Tod Helman (145, 30-0) is good at slowing opponents down. That's what he did to Gaels freshman Danny DeVivo (30-5), winning 6-4, for his second straight title.
Calvert Hall's Greg Knox (112, 21-1) avenged his only loss, 3-1, over Gilman's Gerard Harrison (28-5). Knox, a senior, also owns a victory over Broadneck's defending class 4A-3A state champion Charlie Bennett. Loyola's 125-pound Ian Robbins (28-2, 21 pins) fell, 7-4, to Knox's teammate, Brendan James (16-4).
Loyola 119-pound wrestler Tim Spielman (25-3, 13 pins) overcame a 2-0 deficit against Southwestern's Montez Shelton to capture his second straight title, 3-2. Spielman's 189-pound teammate, Dave Daniecki (25-2), joined him on the victory stand after winning, 2-1, over John Carroll's Jake Hollin.
McDonogh's Brian Antonelli (160, 19-2) and Mervo's Bobby Giles (171, 14-0-1) also captured titles.