Gilman's Tommy Faust (top) won a 5-0 decision against… (Doug Kapustin / Photo for…)
Mount St. Joseph's wrestling team won its 26th Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association wrestling championship on Monday, but the theme of the day was not the Gaels' dominance. Rather, it was the joy that came from seeing hard work by individuals and teams that are not always in the limelight succeed.
John Carroll coach Keith Watson let out a big "Yes!" when he heard his team had finished second to Mount St. Joseph, 238.5-181.
"Mount St. Joe is the Big Dog," Watson said. "They've got depth, legacy, and they'll keep putting great talent out there. But this is the best we've ever done. It's like you've finally arrived after all the hard work, to finish ahead of Curley and McDonogh, Wow! And the battle for second went back and forth like a yo-yo."
MSJ's Paul Triplett, who returned as head coach this season and won his 11th MIAA title, said he was proud of his team.
"Having a one-day tournament was much more intense," Triplett said of the event, which was shortened for the first time in its history because of weather. "We couldn't practice leading up to the tournament and the kids were a little sluggish. But my guys did a nice job and rose to the occasion - but there is always room for improvement."
John Carroll and other teams could have used some of the points they lost in the consolation matches, where 10 players were forced to forfeit because of a five-match-a-day limit, which came into play because the usual two-day event was scrunched into one. Wrestlers who lost in the first round and then were able to win their way to the consolation final matches for third and fifth places would have had to wrestle a sixth match and, therefore, would have had to forfeit.
"It's a National High School Federation rule for all public and private schools that no one can wrestle more than five matches a day for safety reasons," McDonogh coach Pete Welch said. "The only other alternative was everyone who lost in the first round would have been out after one match. This was the best we could do."
Calvert Hall sent one wrestler to the finals, senior Tony Gardner, and he won the 189-pound title.
"When I first started wrestling, I expected to be a multiple-times MIAA and state champion," Gardner said. "But it hasn't been like that. This is the first one."
His coach, Tony Gentry, said it was "nice to finally see Tony's hard work pay off. When he finished third last year, he said, 'That's it.' And vowed he was going to take first this year."
St. Paul's sent two, and both won. Sophomore Pete Galli, who stepped up two weight classes, won at 130, and Eric Friedman, another sophomore, won at 119.
Galli's mom, Becky, teared up and repeated what many wrestlers and coaches said after winning or seeing their wrestlers win. "For 10 years he's been working for this," she said. "It's nice to see it finally pay off. I'm overwhelmed."
Five freshmen made it to the finals. Two of them, John Carroll's Scott Strappelli (112) and George Weber (125), won. McDonogh's Tyler Patrick (145) was a runner-up to Gilman's Tommy Faust.
Another Patrick at McDonogh - Scott Patrick, a senior - won, 5-2, at 171, wrestling what his opponent, Kvaunte Smith, called "a smart match." For that effort and the way he advanced through the previous three rounds he was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler. Mount St. Joe's Karl Green, who won at 285, earned the most points for his team, and Gilman was voted the sportsmanship award.
A previous version of this article misstated the winner of the 145-pound weight class. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.