Mervo led Northern by one point and Dunbar by 10 heading into the championship round of Eastside Invitational. Before the finals began, Mervo coach Dwight Warren was asked what the Mustangs needed for the title.
"I need some luck," he said.
He got it.
Host Mervo won four of six matches in the championship round, and the Mustangs got a lot of help from others in the 10-team field to win the Eastside tournament for the second straight year yesterday.
Mervo finished with 134 points, edging Dunbar and Northern. The Poets ended up in second with 121, and the Vikings took third with 109.
Dunbar and Northern appeared to have good shots at overtaking Mervo heading into the final round. The Poets brought five wrestlers into the championship and the Vikings brought six.
Dunbar kept things close by winning four of five in the final round.
But Northern struck out, losing all six of its matches. The Vikings actually moved backward, losing a point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"The leprechaun came through, I guess," a smiling Warren said. "We felt that we could win it earlier, but we weren't sure until we got a few kids unexpectedly in the finals."
Mervo got championships from Terry McNair (103, 8-3), Millard ,, West (119, 9-3), McAnthony Thompson (130, 16-0) and heavyweight Sean Brodie (12-1). Garfield Thompson (112) and Brian Cromwell (145) both lost, but Warren said Cromwell, seeded third, was one of the surprises; he lost a tough, 2-1 sudden-death overtime decision to Lydell Henry (9-0) of Dunbar.
McNair pinned Kevin Thomas of Dunbar at 1:59 to open the final round on a positive note for the Mustangs. Bruce Pendles (8-1) of Dunbar then pinned Garfield Thompson in 1:37, but West answered with a pin of Northern's Antoine Stokes at 5:43.
Mervo captain McAnthony Thompson then blanked Mike King of PTC Northern, 9-0. The final Mustangs win came from Brodie, who closed out the tournament in style with a pin of Darnell Thomas of Northern at 2:58.
Said McAnthony Thompson: "We were well-conditioned. We stay shape, and we [come through] when we need to."
Northern and Mervo met three times -- and three times the Mustangs won.
"I just saw a couple of guys that I thought would win, [and] they didn't win," said Northern coach Jerome Hester. "That hurt us down the stretch."
Dunbar, meanwhile, hung tough. In addition to Thomas and Henry, the Poets got titles from Hermondoz Thompson (135, 9-0) and Douglas Hampton (152, 8-1). Thompson edged Ed Loyal of Northern, 8-7, with a late rally. Hampton, despite trailing, pinned Manny Sterrett of Northern.
"When they needed that extra effort to turn it up a notch, they turned it up," said Dunbar coach Damon Matthews, who credited assistants Sean Crockett and Gary Coleman with helping his team.