Gaels crown three champs out of nine finalists, McDonogh was second with four champs, Spalding’s PJ Truntich named Outstanding Wrestler

by Billy Loverocket

The goal for the Mt. St. Joseph wrestling team this season was to win the state tournament and finish as the No. 1 team in Maryland for a second consecutive season. Anything less than that would tarnish the Gaels’ season.

On Saturday at the Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union Arena on the campus of Harford Community College, St. Joe fulfilled their season long mission, but not without a bit of drama. Heavyweight Isaac Righter (No. 3 in the latest Maryland rankings) was disqualified for flagrant misconduct in his championship match with McDonogh’s PJ Mustipher (No. 2).

The ruling negated all the team points that Righter accumulated for the Gaels. Their comfortable lead was suddenly thrown for a loop, and a few tense moments passed while updated calculations were made. In the end, St. Joe’s depth allowed them to retain the crown with a 11.5-point win over No. 2 McDonogh, 280-268.5.

“This year’s championship is bittersweet,” Gaels Coach Harry Barnabae continued. “I had hoped a couple of our seniors would bring home a gold. David (Schultz) and Keegan (Rill) have worked so hard this season and just came up a little shy. Credit goes to (Jack) Parr and (Parker) Robinson for having very strong finals performances.

“I’m very happy for the team winning a second straight state championship. This team is still young and with the number of quality students looking to attend MSJ over the next few years our future is very optimistic. We have to acknowledge our three state champions for doing such an incredible job, Connor Strong, Justin Henry, and Austin Stith.”

Both Henry and Stith are the No. 1 ranked wrestlers in the state in their respective weights, and were therefore, favored to bring home titles. Henry (170) was 5-0 in his career versus No. 6 Garrett Kappes (McDonogh) but had to work into the ultimate tie-breaker portion of the match to win his first state championship, 2-1.

Stith (195) was also a first-time champ, picking up a fall over Georgetown Prep’s Kyonte Hamilton (No. 9) in the third period, 5:12.

“It (the state championship) feels great,” Stith said. “Two years ago, I think I was number 22 in the state. It feels great. I worked really hard for it. From late nights in the weight room. I’ve worked really hard for this. I watched a lot of film. A lot of work went into the state title.”

At 132, Strong (No. 3) was facing a guy, McDonogh’s Ray Kable (No. 2), who held two wins over him this year (dual meet and MIAA finals), but the sophomore was not going to let that stand in his way. Strong secured his second state crown with a 3-2 decision.

“I wasn’t really worried about what happened in the past,” Strong added. “I wanted to focus this week on getting better and coming into the tournament I wasn’t really focused on one person. I was focused on each individual match. And if I made it to the finals I was going to focus on the finals. I give a lot of credit to my coaches. They helped me focus on what I needed to do to help me win that match. It (the second state title) is awesome. I’m glad to see that hard work paying off. It feels really good.”

Coming up short in the finals for St. Joe were Chris Barnabae (113), Seth Fillers (138), Jonathan Short (160), Schultz (182), and Rill (220).

Placing third was Nathan Porter (126). Zach Phillips placed fourth at 152. Landing in the fifth spot were Frankie Antonelli (106), Clement Woods (120) and Chris Roybal (145).

McDonogh’s four champs were the most of any team. In addition to Mustipher, Cooper Flynn (106), Dominic Solis (160) and Parker Robinson (220) reached the top of the podium.

Flynn (No. 2) squared off with No. 1 Will Guida (St. Paul’s) in his finals bout. Guida owned a pair of 1-0 wins over Flynn this year (dual meet & MIAA finals). But the freshman from Tennessee flipped the script and walked away with a 3-2 win.

“The biggest thing was keep pushing him, pushing his pace,” said Flynn. “I couldn’t let him control it. I was sitting back the previous matches, kinda scared. I just had to let it go this match. Before the match my biggest thing was I got rode out both matches. I just had to tell myself, I can’t let that happen again. I gotta get out and wrestle my match on my feet, not let him control, and sit back and wait. It was really just a mental thing. A mental barrier I had to get past. I knew I could beat him. I knew I should, but I just had to get past that mental barrier.”

Solis pitched a shutout against Short, 6-0, to stake claim to his first championship. Robinson had to face his fiercest rival in Rill. The two grapplers have taken turns beating each other over the last three seasons, alternating wins in each meeting. Robinson won their last bout in the MIAA finals last week, so the pattern seemed to favor Rill in this one. Robinson however, had other plans and picked up a 3-1 win and now holds a 5-4 edge over Rill.

“I was looking forward to wrestling him,” Robinson said. “He’s a great competitor. I like to get on my offense and just have fun with it. Why should you wrestle if it’s not fun? (The state title) is the best feeling I’ve had in a long time. The hours of grinding paid off. That’s the best way I can explain it.”

St. Paul’s 209.5 points were good for a third-place finish. The Crusaders equaled St. Joe with three champions, Kurt McHenry (113), Imran Heard (138), and Jack Parr (182).

No. 1 McHenry’s third title in three tries was won in an exciting battle with No. 2 Barnabae. The two grapplers have been locked in a feud the last two years, with McHenry winning all of the meetings. But this one, a 6-5 match, was the closest in the rivalry.

Heard and Parr both won their second state crowns. Heard (No. 1) defeated Fillers (No. 2) for the third time this year, 7-2. No. 2 Parr extended his edge over No .3 Schultz, with a 5-1 victory. Parr has now won the last five matches with Schultz after losing their first meeting.

Archbishop Spalding’s PJ Truntich (No. 3 at 120) energized the crowd when he hit a reversal to the back to pin No. 2 King Sandoval (St. Mary’s Ryken) with two seconds left in the match. Sandoval, who beat Truntich in last year’s state final, was looking to become a four-time champ. This is the junior’s first title after being a runner-up as a freshman too. The performance earned Truntich the Outstanding Wrestler nod.

“I planned it with my coaches,” Truntich said. “That had me very prepared. I kinda knew what he was going to go to, so I made the adjustments. He’s a good wrestler so even though I planned for it he’s still unpredictable. He’s a good wrestler. (The first state title) feels really good especially after losing the past two. It really sucks to lose so it feels really good.”

Teammate Ryan Garretson (No.3 at 145) secured his first state championship on his final try. The senior won an overtime thriller with Landon’s Brendon Gallagher (No. 4), 7-5.

No. 1 Josh Laubach (Archbishop Curley) has built up such a high-quality body of work that his third place showing at last week’s MIAA Tournament couldn’t derail him from being the No. 1 seed at 152. The only thing missing from that resume was a state title. The Friar proved worthy of the top seed and grabbed the elusive honor with a dominating performance in the finals over No. 7 LaVeck, 8-1.

“(My mindset was) whoever’s in my way I’m going to have to kill ‘em,” continued Laubach. “I’m going to have to go right after them. I didn’t wrestle aggressively at MIAA’s. I wrestled a little bit soft like. I obviously didn’t want it enough. I turned my entire mental game around starting this week and just went after it. Since Monday, I worked out with a new training partner, went to two practices a day, worked out ten times harder, ran after practice. I did everything I could. I did so much this week over, more than I have throughout the season. And it just really showed it at this state tournament.

“(The first state title) is a dream come true. Since my uncle, Jason Laubach, and my dad, James, could never do it. For me to be able to do it, and they couldn’t, it’s definitely something to be able to rub in their faces. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world.”

The Landon School from Bethesda crowned its first ever state champ, No. 6 Lorenzo Lopez (126). Lopez edged Spalding’s Sam Smirnoff (No. 12), 4-2, to end the drought for the Bears. Smirnoff upset No. 4 Porter in an overtime semifinal bout, 10-5.

Thinking back on his team and their journey to the state’s No. 1 ranking, Barnabae had this to say.

“I believe Jonathan Short exemplifies what makes this team special. Jon displays the perseverance of all of our wrestlers. He was seeded sixth in yesterday’s tournament and made it all the way to the finals before losing a close match to Solis. It’s this attitude, of wrestling the best that you possibly can, and scoring points for the team, that has made the team successful.”

Calvert Hall won the “B” division trophy. Jarrell Mayo was fourth at 195 and Zach O’Brocki placed seventh at 106lbs for the Cardinals.

“It really means a lot to the kids, and that’s why I do this,” said Calvert Hall Coach Jamie Smith. “They really got fired up about it and it gave them extra motivation to go out there and do it. Winning the B-title actually came right down to the wire with us and Mt. Carmel having several kids in the placement matches. This is definitely a program booster, and a big step in the right direction for us. All of our guys are committed to wrestling this spring/summer and next school year.”

Team Scores:
1-Mt. St. Joseph 280
2-McDonogh 268.5
3-St. Paul’s 209.5
4-Archbishop Spalding 170.5
5-Loyola 148.5
6-Landon 134
7-John Carroll 109
8-Good Counsel 90
9-Gilman 84
Tie-St. Mary’s Ryken 84
11-Archbishop Curley 77.5
12-Georgetown Prep 67
13-Boys’ Latin 62
14-Bullis 49
15-DeMatha 47
16-Severn 19.5

B (Top 5)
1-Calvert Hall 56
2-Mt. Carmel 52
3-Pallotti 47.5
4-Bishop McNamara 43
5-Friends 33

1st Place Match
Cooper Flynn (McDonogh School) 31-7, Fr. over Will Guida (Saint Paul`s) 33-4, So. (Dec 3-2)
3rd Place Match
Staki Gourgoulianis (John Carroll) 33-11, Fr. over Andy Weinstein (Gilman School) 34-11, So. (Dec 6-5)
5th Place Match
Frankie Antoinelli (Mount Saint Joseph) 16-10, Fr. over Edward Allen (Bishop McNamara) 3-3, So. (Fall 2:52)
7th Place Match
Zachary O`Brocki (Calvert Hall) 3-5, So. over Ryan Holt (DeMatha Catholic) 9-10, . (Fall 4:32)

1st Place Match
Kurt McHenry (Saint Paul`s) 21-0, Jr. over Chris Barnabae (Mount Saint Joseph) 41-5, So. (Dec 6-5)
3rd Place Match
Mitch Garretson (Archbishop Spalding) 23-19, So. over Tyler Trout (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) 31-5, Jr. (Dec 7-2)
5th Place Match
Adrian Triguero (Archbishop Curley) 24-16, So. over Conor Lozupone (Good Counsel) 29-17, So. (Dec 10-3)
7th Place Match
Thomas Whittier (Georgetown Prep) 28-17, Sr. over Jason Kim (St James School) 24-17, Sr. (Fall 2:31)

1st Place Match
Paul Truntich (Archbishop Spalding) 34-5, Jr. over King Sandoval (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 45-6, Sr. (Fall 5:58)
3rd Place Match
Axel Giron (Landon) 37-7, Jr. over Gene Qoudala (Saint Paul`s) 20-12, Fr. (TB-1 2-1)
5th Place Match
Clement Woods (Mount Saint Joseph) 13-7, Fr. over DeShawn Strand (Loyola Blakefield) 36-9, Jr. (Fall 4:53)
7th Place Match
Matt Lawrence (McDonogh School) 12-10, Fr. over Bazin Sineshaw (Bullis School) 31-23, Jr. (Fall 2:10)

1st Place Match
Lorenzo Lopez (Landon) 41-4, So. over Sam Smirnoff (Archbishop Spalding) 22-5, So. (Dec 4-2)
3rd Place Match
Nathan Porter (Mount Saint Joseph) 27-4, So. over Sean M. Scott (McDonogh School) 30-14, Jr. (Dec 5-0)
5th Place Match
Alex Figuieras (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 35-9, Jr. over Isaac Ruderman (Bullis School) 46-15, . (MD 13-2)
7th Place Match
Billy Trout (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) 32-5, Sr. over Crosse Herpin (Maryland School for the Deaf) 26-6, So. (Dec 8-6)

1st Place Match
Connor Strong (Mount Saint Joseph) 32-7, So. over Ray Kable (McDonogh School) 33-6, Jr. (Dec 3-2)
3rd Place Match
Rick Couch (Archbishop Spalding) 36-11, Jr. over Nick Dintino (Saint Paul`s) 17-13, Sr. (Dec 7-1)
5th Place Match
Matt Richardson (Good Counsel) 37-9, Sr. over Matt Mitrega (John Carroll) 28-13, So. (Dec 6-2)
7th Place Match
Ryan Thomas (Loyola Blakefield) 24-17, Sr. over Patrick Kielb (Landon) 14-8, So. (MD 14-2)

1st Place Match
Imran Heard (Saint Paul`s) 32-4, Sr. over Seth Fillers (Mount Saint Joseph) 28-10, Jr. (Dec 7-2)
3rd Place Match
Josh Aybar (Loyola Blakefield) 41-6, So. over Nick Paolucci (Archbishop Spalding) 26-18, So. (Fall 4:42)
5th Place Match
Charlie Brenner (Bishop McNamara) 5-2, Sr. over Kobe Borda (Georgetown Prep) 28-5, Jr. (Dec 3-0)
7th Place Match
Brad LaBella (Severn School) 27-9, So. over Ty Kane (DeMatha Catholic) 24-14, Jr. (Dec 5-2)

1st Place Match
Ryan Garretson (Archbishop Spalding) 45-5, Sr. over Brendon Gallagher (Landon) 37-5, Sr. (SV-1 7-5)
3rd Place Match
Max Hammond (Saint Paul`s) 31-11, Jr. over Sammy Toggas (Covenant Life School) 32-15, So. (Dec 3-2)
5th Place Match
Christopher Roybal (Mount Saint Joseph) 19-8, So. over Harrison Trahan (McDonogh School) 28-10, Fr. (For.)
7th Place Match
Grady Hotz (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 43-7, Sr. over Newt Davis (Saint Vincent Pallotti) 33-8, Sr. (Fall 3:38)

1st Place Match
Joshua Laubach (Archbishop Curley) 35-3, Sr. over Alex LaVeck (McDonogh School) 33-8, Jr. (Dec 8-1)
3rd Place Match
Garrett Fisk (Archbishop Spalding) 41-7, Jr. over Zach Phillips (Mount Saint Joseph) 14-9, Jr. (Dec 3-1)
5th Place Match
Everette McDuffie (Saint Paul`s) 28-16, Jr. over CJ Polesovsky (John Carroll) 32-9, So. (For.)
7th Place Match
Cole Brown (Gilman School) 26-20, Sr. over Cole Robilotto (Good Counsel) 29-18, Jr. (Dec 6-1)

1st Place Match
Dominic Solis (McDonogh School) 29-3, So. over Jonathan Short (Mount Saint Joseph) 30-15, Jr. (Dec 6-0)
3rd Place Match
Avery Miller (Good Counsel) 39-11, Jr. over Dylan Blau (Saint Paul`s) 35-8, Jr. (Dec 6-2)
5th Place Match
Taylor Randolph (Loyola Blakefield) 27-11, Sr. over Jamie Rice (Boys` Latin) 33-13, Sr. (Fall 4:07)
7th Place Match
TJ Quelet (St James School) 35-4, Jr. over Rey Robinson (Glenelg Country School) 36-18, . (TF-1.5 3:00 (16-0))

1st Place Match
Justin Henry (Mount Saint Joseph) 26-0, Jr. over Garrett Kappes (McDonogh School) 40-7, So. (UTB 2-1)
3rd Place Match
Jason Litvak (Loyola Blakefield) 37-5, Sr. over Jelani Machen (Landon) 30-3, Jr. (Dec 5-2)
5th Place Match
Dustin Radford (Archbishop Spalding) 21-6, So. over Jerry Rosser (John Carroll) 29-18, Sr. (Dec 3-2)
7th Place Match
Dominic Piazza (Saint Paul`s) 21-21, Sr. over Kyle Winegartner (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 32-16, Sr. (Dec 6-0)

1st Place Match
Jack Parr (Saint Paul`s) 31-4, Jr. over David Schultz (Mount Saint Joseph) 24-7, Sr. (Dec 5-1)
3rd Place Match
Jack Wimmer (McDonogh School) 41-11, So. over Blake Corum (Saint Vincent Pallotti) 29-7, So. (Dec 7-3)
5th Place Match
Ian Takas (Loyola Blakefield) 17-15, Jr. over Kevonte Beard (Gilman School) 23-16, Jr. (Dec 2-1)
7th Place Match
Carter Johnson (Landon) 20-7, Sr. over Etzer Laurore (Bishop McNamara) 2-3, Sr. (Dec 5-2)

1st Place Match
Austin Stith (Mount Saint Joseph) 35-5, Sr. over Kyonte Hamilton (Georgetown Prep) 38-4, Fr. (Fall 5:12)
3rd Place Match
Jackson Bonitz (McDonogh School) 19-8, So. over Jarrell Mayo (Calvert Hall) 4-2, Jr. (SV-1 5-3)
5th Place Match
Alex Slodzinski (Gilman School) 27-13, Sr. over Jake Wright (Loyola Blakefield) 13-12, Jr. (Dec 6-1)
7th Place Match
Mike Morris (Saint Vincent Pallotti) 23-15, Sr. over Joel Desroches (Landon) 10-9, Sr. (Dec 7-1)

1st Place Match
Parker Robinson (McDonogh School) 30-8, Sr. over Keegan Rill (Mount Saint Joseph) 33-7, Sr. (Dec 3-1)
3rd Place Match
Skyler Kessenich (Friends of Baltimore) 39-4, Sr. over Adam Berg (John Carroll) 29-9, Sr. (Dec 5-4)
5th Place Match
Will Maigetter (Loyola Blakefield) 25-12, Sr. over Mac Alban (Boys` Latin) 32-15, Sr. (Dec 7-1)
7th Place Match
Thomas Kerner (Saint Mary`s) 11-5, Sr. over Ethan Sypes (Bullis School) 36-14, . (Dec 6-4)

1st Place Match
PJ Mustipher (McDonogh School) 36-4, Sr. over Isaac Righter (Mount Saint Joseph) 34-5, . (DQ)
3rd Place Match
Bennett Traurig (Loyola Blakefield) 31-13, Jr. over Druw Van Der Werff (John Carroll) 34-9, Sr. (Fall 1:31)
5th Place Match
Jerold Gaither (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) 26-5, Sr. over Isiah McGirt (Archbishop Curley) 19-12, Sr. (Dec 1-0)
7th Place Match
Brandon Roberts (Good Counsel) 33-15, So. over Gage Crites (Gilman School) 15-8, So. (Fall 2:16)

Championship Finals Video:
(missing 220 due to technical difficulties)
106-Flynn vs Guida

113-McHenry vs Barnabae

120-Truntich vs Sandoval

126-Lopez vs Smirnoff

132-Strong vs Kable

138-Heard vs Fillers

145-Garretson vs Gallagher

152-Laubach vs LaVeck

160-Solis vs Short

170-Henry vs Kappes

182-Parr vs Schultz

195-Stith vs Hamilton

285-Mustipher vs Righter