Rivals may be ready to take down Mount St. Joseph HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING PREVIEW

December 06, 1992|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Mount St. Joseph dominated last year's Maryland Scholastic Association wrestling tournament, building a 74-point lead over second-place Loyola en route to a 257-192 victory and its 17th crown.

But the Gaels' performance in the individual championship bouts -- only two of their seven finalists won crowns -- offered hope to their MSA rivals that the Gaels' grip on the crown may be loosening.

Dunbar coach Damon Matthews watched his 103-pound freshman, Bruce Pendles, down the first of the Gaels' seven finalists, David Inkman, 4-3, to become the Poets' youngest-ever MSA champion.

"Sooner or later," Matthews said recently, "all dynasties fall."

That's what happened in last weekend's Curley Catholic League tournament, when Prince George's County's powerful Riverdale Baptist (211 points) wrestled the title away from the Gaels (181) for the first time in 20 years, -- despite the efforts of the Gaels' individual champions Shane McCarthy (145), Kevin Neville (152), Danny DeVivo (160) and heavyweight Dave Sunderland.

"They [Gaels] only had a week of practice, so we looked at that tournament as kind of a tuneup," said coach Paul Triplett, whose Gaels also won their 17th regular-season crown with a 12-1 dual-meet record.

He returns MSA champs Neville and Sunderland, runners-up Inkman, McCarthy and DeVivo, third-place finisher Paul Scott (135) and veteran Russell Fecteau (125) with former junior league state champ Tyran Dungee (130).

"It's still early," said Triplett. "But once they get up to speed, it'll be a different story."

In addition to league runner-up Loyola (12-2 last year) and perennial contender Gilman (8-5), the Gaels -- top-ranked in The Baltimore Sun's preseason poll -- might be surprised by Boys' Latin.

The Lakers, who were third in last week's Curley tournament, return most of last year's squad, including MSA runners-up Chris Smith (171) and Ashley Harrison (119), and fourth-place finishers Tim Berger (112), Mike Harrison (125), Ashley's twin brother, and Jim Quinn (130).

"They don't seem to have any weak spots," said Loyola coach Dennis Frazier, whose Dons are ranked No. 11 behind the No. 8 Lakers. Gilman is 14th.

"They look solid at every weight class, which could be a problem," added Frazier, who returns two of the six defending MSA champs in two-time champion Tim Spielman (130) and Dave Daniecki (189), in addition to fifth-ranked Greg Smith (140, fourth in MSAs).

The other defending MSA champion is Calvert Hall's Brendan James (135), who captured the Curley tournament crown last weekend with three pins and a decision.

Gilman returns MSA runners-up Gerard Harrison (119) and Jamie Biddison (171) in addition to the bulk of last year's squad.

St. Paul's Steve Truitt (125) was third in last year's MSA tournament after dropping a 3-1 semifinal decision to Calvert Hall's eventual champ Greg Knox, who went on to win a National Prep title. Truitt entered the season ranked No. 6 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association.

Poly's Rashad Kitchen (189) is back after placing third in last year's MSA tournament.

Walbrook (8-1) won the regular-season B Conference title, 42-27, over Southwestern. But the Sabres (7-1) rebounded for a seventh-place finish in the MSA tournament -- with their 122.5 points being good enough to snag the tournament's B-C trophy.

L St. Mary's of Anne Arundel County also fields a strong team.

Mervo, which graduated MSA champion Bobby Giles (171, 14-0-1), finished 10th (96 points) in the MSA tournament, and coach Dwight Warren has coached a formerly struggling program to four straight winning seasons.

Warren's biggest hopes lie with seniors Damon Foster (130) and Tyrell Armstrong (135).

"I have 23 kids right now, but I have a young team," said Warren. "Next year, it will be an experienced young team."

Joining this year's B Conference is last year's C Conference champion, Carver, which went undefeated (6-0) in the league and dropped its only match to Randallstown, which placed fourth in the 4A-3A state tournament.

Other than senior Kier Hicks (152), who was fourth in the MSAs, Southwestern coach Bernie Leneau said, "Everyone else on the team is brand-spanking new or rookies that I didn't use much last year."

Walbrook coach Wavie Gibson returns lower-weight wrestlers Kevin Hughes (112), Steve Wilson (119), George Chandler (130) and Kevin Muldrow (135), who upset top-seeded Mark Wilson of McDonogh in a match last year.

The Warriors also return upper-weights Mark Hollingsworth (145), Mike Johnson (171) and Kevin Forrester (189).

Hughes ended the regular season with a 13-4 record, Chandler was 15-4-2, including a win over MSA runner-up Montez Shelton of Southwestern, and Hollingsworth was 15-4-1 entering the MSA tournament.

"Walbrook has basically its whole team back, but overall, Southwestern will field a very young team," said Leneau, who sees promise in his juniors Darrell Parker (171), a star lacrosse player, and heavyweight Louis White (218 pounds).

"I expect a strong challenge from Carver and Walbrook," said Leneau. "But we should start being competitive in midseason."

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