Mount St. Joe's persistence pays off with MIAA tournament title

Short-handed Gaels place 13 wrestlers to top Curley


February 13, 2005|By Luke Broadwater | Luke Broadwater,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It hasn't been an easy season for the Mount St. Joseph wrestling team. The top-ranked Gaels have been plagued by injuries, most noticeably with state champion Mark Tsikerdanos (130 pounds) and standout Greg Gold (112) sidelined for the year.

"We took a real snake-bite when we lost those guys," said Mack Lewnes (160), last year's Sun All-Metro Wrestler of the Year. "Even though we've had all the injuries, we've made adjustments and we've come back."

The persistence paid off for the Gaels yesterday as the team won the MIAA tournament with 282.5 points -- 83.5 points ahead of second-place Archbishop Curley -- and placed 13 of its 14 wrestlers at the event.

The host Gaels crowned champions in Dan Whitenak (112), Jon Kohler (130), Alex Ward (140), Brandon Propst (145), Lewnes, Jake Bohn (171) and Kevin O'Connor (189).

Lewnes, who was named the event's Outstanding Wrestler, and O'Connor pinned their final opponents, while the other Mount St. Joe champions scored victories by decision.

Whitenak moved up from 103 pounds to score a 2-1 decision over Annapolis Area Christian's Luke Palumbo. Kohler rallied from a 4-1 deficit to beat Calvert Hall's Collin Goldsmith, 7-4. Ward controlled a 6-3 victory over John Carroll's Dean Roberts. And, Propst blew open a tight match with Calvert Hall's Brad Gabrish to win convincingly, 15-6.

"We've had a lot of injuries, but we've started gelling as a team," Ward said.

Archbishop Curley (199) placed 11 wrestlers and crowned one champion, Joe Green, a natural 215-pounder, who wrestles at heavyweight.

"They're a little bit bigger than I am," Green said of his opponents. "But I'm a little bit quicker."

Third-place McDonogh (172.5) had four individual champions, in Josh Fitch (103), Joe Breen (125), Rob Willey (135) and Bryn Holmes (152), who won the tournament's award for most team points with his four pins. All four Eagles never trailed in lopsided wins in their final matches.

The most exciting finals victory belonged to Gilman's Maurice Fleming (119), who overcame a 5-4 deficit with six seconds left to upset St. Mary's previously undefeated and top-ranked Lou Ruland, 6-5.

Pallotti 215-pounder Tim Jennings captured his first MIAA title with three wins before defeating Mount St. Joe's Dan Cannaday, 6-0, in the finals.

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