Baltimore City's wrestling season began in whirlwind fashion yesterday at Southwestern with a Division II match featuring pins in 12 of the 13 bouts -- six by each team.
But Mervo heavyweight Terry Allen's 40-second pin of Lamont Ledbetter secured a 39-36 win for the Mustangs (1-0), who began their quest for a third straight city dual-meet crown.
Mervo led, 33-30, with two bouts remaining after a pin by the Mustangs' Bryan Cromwell (160) was matched by Southwestern's Marshall DuVall (171), the latter overcoming a 4-1 deficit. But Southwestern (1-1) had its only lead, 36-33, after Lionel Green (189) pinned Marco Epps to overcome an 8-7 deficit.
Allen isn't even Mervo's starter. Defending city champ Aaron Brown is expected to return next week after being held out by his parents pending improved grades. "This shows he's not going to get his spot back," said Allen, a 235-pound senior. "Not without a fight."
The visitors led, 21-6, after the first five bouts, including pins by Terry McNair (112), Garfield Thompson (119) and Millard West (130).
The night's only decision came from Mervo freshman Tavon Jackson (103), who scored eight near-fall points in his 10-4 victory over Ed Leigh, then watched two teammates scored lightning-quick falls: McNair flattened Glen Cox in nine seconds, and Thompson finished Joe Smith in 19.
Southwestern's defending city champ Ronnie Powell (125) answered with his second pin in as many matches, a 41-second takedown that inspired teammate Andre Wooden against West.
But Wooden finally went down in 3:02.
Southwestern came within 21-18 after Charles Frazier (135) built an 11-0 lead then decked Jerry Neblett in 3:27, and Dinello Punnett (140) survived nearly being pinned and a 7-0 deficit to finish Carl Levine in 3:15.
It was 27-24, Mervo, after the teams traded pins, with the Mustangs' Taven Phillips (145) overcoming an 8-2 deficit to plant Shawn Yates in 3:06, and Dinello's brother, Daniello (152), responding with a 58-second fall.
"We should never have lost at 140, 171 or 189 -- turning points for Southwestern," said Mervo coach Dwight Warren. "But our mission tonight was to beat Southwestern, even though we didn't find out what their lineup was until the weigh-in. Now, I can go back to the practice room and say mission accomplished."