Gales pull off MIS threepeat in grand style; all 14 wrestlers place third or higher; McDonogh is second; Chris Barnabae named Outstanding Wrestler

by Billy Loverocket

The Mt. St. Joe wrestling team (No. 1 in the latest Maryland state rankings) won the MIAA tournament title last weekend by 89 points over No. 2 McDonogh, while placing all their wrestlers third or better. The chances of that feat being replicated at the state tournament were not great.
After all, with the introduction of the Washington D.C. area teams, and squads from other reaches of the state, the extra competition would normalize the Gaels’ output, right?

Well, it turns out…no. As St. Joe terrorized the two-day competition at the APGFCU on the campus of Harford Community College to the tune of 353 points. Good enough for a mind boggling 108.5-point margin of victory over McDonogh. And once again, all 14 grapplers earned nothing worse than bronze. The Maryland Independent Schools state tournament was St. Joe’s playground this weekend.

“We still have some things to work on, however, overall, I felt the teamed wrestled sharp,” Gaels coach Harry Barnabae said. “Our goal coming into the MIS was to qualify the entire team for the National Preps. Thankfully, we had strong performances from Couch, Wright, Woods, Stern, Roybal, and Warner who battled back against some very tough opponents to finish third.

“One of the most difficult challenges for a wrestler is to come back after a loss and finish third. It says a great deal about their resilience. I’m still trying to digest their entire performance. It’s pretty remarkable. Their effort and scoring bonus points throughout the tournament provided the margin of victory.”

St. Joe’s Chris Barnabae is presented with the MIS Outstanding Wrestler award by his father and coach, Harry Barnabae.

St. Joe’s four champs tied No. 11 St. Paul’s for the tournament high, and their first gold was captured by Barnabae’s son, Chris (No. 1 at 120). Barnabae, who is also ranked 11th in the nation by FloWrestling, ran up a tech-fall over No. 4 Shawn Strand of Loyola in the finals. That impressive showing coupled with four first-period pins put a nice bow on Barnabae’s first state title as he was also named the Outstanding Wrestler of the event.

“Before the match started, I wanted to get my head into the game,” Baranabae said. “Make sure I didn’t take him for granted, just go all out. I gave it my all. I’m very thankful for it (first state title). I wanted it, and I really worked hard for it during this year. I’m very thankful for the OW. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m very thankful for it.”

Joining Barnabae as first-time champions were No. 2 Zach Phillips and No. 2 Isaac Righter. Phillips captured his 160lb title with a commanding 8-3 decision of No. 3 Dylan Blau of St. Paul’s.

“I feel pretty good,” Phillips remarked. “I feel like I wrestled great in the first period. I made a mistake, but I feel like I bounced back and kept the pressure on him. (I was thinking) I have to go out with a bang. I’ve put so much hard work in, so don’t let it go to waste.”

Letting things go to waste is not Righter’s forte, specifically time. The junior, who is No. 9 in Flo’s rankings, wasted little time on the mat, planting all four of his foes in the first period, two in 30 seconds or less. In the finals, Righter decked McDonogh’s Cody Williams (No. 8), 1:27.

No. 1 Justin Henry clinched his second consecutive state crown with a 9-1 major-decision against No. 4 Jackson Bonitz of McDonogh. The senior has been around long enough to know what it feels like for the team to come up short at the state tournament. As a freshman Henry saw the Gaels finish third, and now closes his career with his team winning three titles.

“My freshman year I think we got third, and after that we won it,” Henry added. “It just feels good winning it once, but it feels even better three times. After my match I just didn’t know what to do. I was just so happy. But I wanted to keep it in, I didn’t want to show how happy I was. I wanted to keep it professional.”

Bringing home state silver for St. Joe were, Nathan Porter (126), Matthew Jun (138), Connor Strong (145) and Jonathan Short (145). The bronze medalists were Joe Couch (106), Jacob Wright (113), Clement Woods (132), Chris Roybal (152), Ethan Stern (195), and Parker Warner (220).

Former Mount St. Joseph coach Allen Smith presents the trophy for most falls in the least amount of time to the Gaels’ Clement Woods.

No. 6 Woods’ third-place showing provided a bit of instant retribution. His 10-5 win over No. 9 Alex Figueiras (St. Mary’s-Ryken) avenged Friday night’s quarterfinal loss, 10-4. Woods was also awarded the trophy for most falls (five) in the least amount of time.

McDonogh equaled St. Joe with eight finalists, coming away with three champions, No. 2 Ray Kable (132), No. 2 Dominic Solis (170), and No. 1 Garrett Kappes (220). Solis won his second title in a row, both over St. Joe’s Short, 6-0 last year, 7-2 this year.

The MIS tournament has been Kable’s Achilles Heel during his time in the Eagle orange. Three times previously, Kable strolled in fresh off an MIAA title, only to suffer a loss in the state finals. After capturing MIAA title number four last weekend, Kable was determined to write a different ending to his story and claim that elusive state crown. He had to work overtime for it, but the gold would hang from his neck after a 2-1 win over Archbishop Spalding’s No. 5 Joe Fisk.

“I knew I just had to move my feet and get to my attacks,” Kable said. “I feel like I did that well for the most part, except in the finals. My nerves got to me a little bit, because it’s the last one. I stuck to my game plan and I happened to pull it out. It’s a great feeling. It’s like a big weight lifted right off my shoulders. It feels awesome.”

Another first-timer was Kappes, who downed Georgetown Prep’s Kyonte Hamilton (No. 3), 9-3, in an impressive showing. Despite owning a previous win over Hamilton and being a double All-American at Fargo, Kappes was getting no love from FloWrestling who have Hamilton at No. 14 in the country based on his showing at the Beast of the East.

Those rankings also ignore Hamilton’s loss to Western Tech’s Ike Kalu (No. 2) in the PIT finals. Kappes’ solid win should earn him the proper national notoriety he deserves.

The Eagles that landed on the second rung of the podium were, Cooper Flynn (113), Harrison Trahan (152), Bonitz, Jack Wimmer (195) and Williams. Sean M. Scott was third at 138 and Aidan Hurdle placed eighth at 160.

No. 7 Spalding’s third place showing (208.5 points) was powered by three champions, No. 2 PJ Truntich (126), No. 3 Rick Couch (138) and No. 3 Garrett Fisk (152). Truntich and Fisk avenged losses in winning their titles, while Couch cruised to victory, and his first state crown, with a 6-0 blanking of St. Joe’s Jun (No. 6).

“I wanted to go out there and show that all my hard work is finally put into one thing and I can finish out here with a win,” Couch added. “I got third here last year. This was my last state tournament, so I had to go out with a big bang. It feels amazing. It’s the first one (state title), the first one ever. It was awesome.”

Fisk finished a disappointing third at the MIAA tournament after a tough semifinal loss to McDonogh’s Trahan (No. 2). The senior got revenge on the Gaels’ Roybal (No. 6) in the semis here with a 7-1 win after being pinned in their dual meet. Following Roybal, Trahan awaited, and Fisk was ready, using a couple of big moves to post a 7-3 decision, and with it, his first state crown.

“I knew I had to come out with all I had,” said Fisk. “I needed to keep the pressure and keep on taking shots. And eventually I was able to take him down. I was down coming into the second but was able to get out. I stayed after it and did all I could to get that title.”

Spalding’s PJ Truntich (left) shook off three consecutive losses to MSJ’s top-ranked Nathan Porter and win the 126 MIS crown.

Truntich had the tallest order of all the Cavalier finalists. The defending state champion stood opposite of No. 1 Porter, who had beaten him the previous three weekends (Ocean Lakes Invitational, dual meet, and MIAA tournament). The odds were stacked against Truntich, but much like last year with his pin over three-time state champ King Sandoval in the finals, the senior came up big when it mattered the most, shocking the Gael with a 6-4 win for back-to-back championships.

“Going into the match was kinda the same thing as every match.” Truntich continued. “I guess I was a little more prepared this time. I came out moving a little more. Last two matches were low scoring, so it was nice to get a little more points on the board this time. They were all close matches, so it’s not like he broke me or anything. He’s a great wrestler. It was just another close match and I didn’t want to let it get to my head that he’s beat me the last three times, so I was trying not to think about that, but it did make me train harder this week.”

In addition to Brady Pruett’s and Joe Fisk’s silver, Drew Baublitz (120) was fourth, Nick Paolucci (145) and Dustin Radford (195) were fifth, and Dylan Lewis made it to the seventh spot at 160 for Spalding.

St. Paul’s 196 points and fourth-place showing were built on the back of its four champions, No. 1 Nasir Wilkinson (106), No. 2 Wil Guida (113), No. 2 Max Hammond (145), and No. 2 Jack Parr (182).

If you think Truntich had a mountain to climb, check out Guida’s challenge. He was riding a four-match losing streak to Cooper Flynn (No. 1 and ranked 10th nationally by Flo) when he toed the line in his title bout. Guida did have two wins in his pocket from his first two encounters with Flynn, so victory was certainly possible. That possibility became a reality when Guida came out ahead of his rival, 3-1, for his first trip to the top of the state podium.

“I knew that, obviously I had beaten him in the past,” Guida relayed. “He had beat me the last four times. I had to get over this hump. I’m a junior. I never won a state title. First year I had to bump up and wrestle Connor Strong. Last year, I lost to Flynn in the finals. Coach (Rob) Eiter has been such a good support system to me. Telling me what I need to work on. Finally, it paid off.”

Wilkinson and Parr had relatively easy rides to victory posting 8-1 and 7-2 decisions respectively. Wilkinson took out Spalding’s Pruett for the second week in a row, and third time this year.

“It was so exciting now that I got a state championship,” Wilkinson said. “I couldn’t do it last year because I got injured and one of my teammates was taking the spot, but I came back this year and got the state title for my team. I was pretty satisfied, the last time I wrestled him, I wasn’t really satisfied. It was closer than the first time I wrestled him, but I improved this time.”

Parr needed overtime last week to defeat McDonogh’s No. 3 Wimmer. The three-time state champion made some adjustments in his approach for this match and it paid off big-time, closing the book on the local chapter of his career in style. Parr was very pleased with title number three but hopes to take care of unfinished business next weekend at the National Prep tournament.

“I’ve been on that stage before and knew I could win,” Parr elaborated. “It just felt good to actually secure it. I still have one more week left and what I’m really looking forward to is National Preps next week. I’ve never won that before and I’ve been really close every year, so that’s what I’m really shooting for right now. States was good but nationals is gonna be better.

“I had a game plan this time. Last week, I took him down early but then I spent most of my energy trying to turn him on top, but he stays really strong on bottom. I was kinda fatigued at the end. I couldn’t get my shots off. So, this week, me and my coaches were talking about if I could take him down, don’t waste too much energy on top. You can just let him up, get another takedown. I was pretty confident that I wasn’t gonna give up a takedown. So, the game plan this week was just not to spend so much time on top trying to turn him, just let him up.”

Max Hammond of St. Paul’s (dark singlet), one year removed from a public schools state title at Sparrows Point, won a private school crown on Saturday with a win over St. Joe’s Connor Strong at the MIS.

Hammond won a 2A/1A public schools state championship with Sparrows Point as a sophomore. The junior made the move to St. Paul’s last year to up the challenge. Hammond took his lumps, but seemingly improved every time he stepped on the mat. That improvement shined through in the finals as he picked off the state’s top-ranked 145lber, Connor Strong, 3-1. Strong beat Hammond 2-1 in the MIAA finals a week ago.

“I felt I needed to open up a little more and just wrestle my match,” Hammond said. “I just needed to keep my head cool and just do what I’ve been doing all year, just wrestling hard and setting the pace. It’s great. It’s an amazing thing for me. I’m just thankful for all the people who have pushed me to become the best I can and for putting the time into me.”

Loyola, who is tied for 7th with Spalding in the state rankings, rounded out the top five with 192 points. The Dons had one lone finalist in Strand. The senior avenged a loss to No. 3 Evan Eldridge (St. Mary’s-Ryken) from Mount Mat Madness with a 11-8 win in the semifinals. Curley was the next highest placing local team, landing in the 10th spot with 97 points.

Coach Barnabae reflected on his team knocking down another of its goals for the season and continuing the rich wrestling history of St. Joe.

“Throughout the season, we discuss team goals, and focus on the fact that this year’s wrestlers are creating their own legacy. They want to get their picture or name on the Wall of Champions. It’s not just about the 14 starters, it’s about all the wrestlers in the room pushing one another to get to the next level. Wrestlers such as (Lucas) Ognissanti, (Frankie) Antonelli, Bradley David, (Brandon) Stalnaker, and (Ashton) Knight just to name a few.

“It’s about creating an atmosphere of scoring points, pinning, and winning. Building a team who supports each other on and off the mat. Winning our third state title is a result of the kids working hard and keeping focus. We hope to carry on the strong tradition in the years to come.”

“I can’t say enough about our athletic trainer Jon Glover, who goes out of his way to keep our boys healthy and well protected. He is a big part of this success too.”

In a strange twist that hasn’t happened in several years, if ever, all 14 champions are from the Baltimore Metro Area, and all came from the top four teams in the standings. In fact, all but one (Kyonte Hamilton) of the 28 finalists were from MIAA schools.

Team Scores (Top 10)
1-Mt. St. Joe 353
2-McDonogh 244.5
3-Spalding 208.5
4-St. Paul’s 196
5-Loyola 192
6-St. Mary’s Ryken 136
7-Bullis 125
8-Good Counsel 113
9-Landon 101.5
10-Archbishop Curley 97

1st Place Match
Nasir Wilkinson (Saint Paul`s) 5-0, So. over Brady Pruett (Archbishop Spalding) 45-6, Fr. (Dec 8-1)
3rd Place Match
Joe Couch (Mount Saint Joseph) 28-10, Fr. over Ryan Money (Severn School) 33-9, Fr. (TB-1 2-1)
5th Place Match
Tallion Elliot Jr. (Bullis School) 52-8, Fr. over Christopher Albo (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 42-16, So. (Fall 2:04)
7th Place Match
Bradley Lintz (Archbishop Curley) 30-13, Fr. over William Bressner (Gilman School) 24-20, Fr. (Dec 5-0)

1st Place Match
Will Guida (Saint Paul`s) 5-0, Jr. over Cooper Flynn (McDonogh School) 45-6, So. (Dec 3-1)
3rd Place Match
Jacob Wright (Mount Saint Joseph) 35-15, Fr. over Conor Lozupone (Good Counsel) 35-13, Jr. (MD 9-0)
5th Place Match
Tyler Trout (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) 37-4, Sr. over Koda DeAtley (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 43-12, Fr. (Fall 0:47)
7th Place Match
Matty Walsh (Loyola Blakefield) 20-7, Fr. over Edward Allen (Bishop McNamara) 36-13, Jr. (Fall 4:57)

Outstanding Wrestler Chris Barnabae (left) dominated Loyola’s Shawn Strand during his tech fall in the 120 final.

1st Place Match
Chris Barnabae (Mount Saint Joseph) 46-4, Jr. over Shawn Strand (Loyola Blakefield) 37-6, Sr. (TF-1.5 3:00 (15-0))
3rd Place Match
Evan Eldridge (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 50-6, Fr. over Drew Baublitz (Archbishop Spalding) 26-16, Fr. (Fall 4:54)
5th Place Match
Andy Weinstein (Gilman School) 24-15, Jr. over Ryan Holt (DeMatha Catholic) 3-5, So. (MD 9-1)
7th Place Match
Quinn Smith (Friends of Baltimore) 24-11, Fr. over Will Gallagher (Saint Paul`s) 4-3, Jr. (Dec 6-2)

1st Place Match
Paul Truntich (Archbishop Spalding) 33-5, Sr. over Nathan Porter (Mount Saint Joseph) 34-5, Jr. (Dec 6-4)
3rd Place Match
Gene Qoudala (Saint Paul`s) 4-1, So. over Axel Giron (Landon) 46-7, Sr. (Dec 3-2)
5th Place Match
Blake Jury (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 44-7, Jr. over Cole Myers (Loyola Blakefield) 34-14, . (Fall 2:23)
7th Place Match
Sirr Bannister (Bishop McNamara) 41-9, Fr. over Bazin Sineshaw (Bullis School) 34-22, Sr. (MD 9-0)

McDonogh’s Ray Kable claimed his first MIS title on his final opportunity, defeating St. Joe’s Joe Fisk at 132.

1st Place Match
Ray Kable (McDonogh School) 34-8, Sr. over Joe Fisk (Archbishop Spalding) 36-6, Fr. (TB-1 2-1)
3rd Place Match
Clement Woods (Mount Saint Joseph) 30-9, So. over Alejandro Figueiras (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 38-7, Sr. (Dec 10-5)
5th Place Match
Lorenzo Lopez (Landon) 38-7, Jr. over Thomas Casasola (Saint Andrew`s Episcopal School) 25-3, Jr. (Inj. 0:00)
7th Place Match
Cole Jones (John Carroll) 4-2, Jr. over Cam Ward (Gilman School) 17-17, Sr. (Fall 1:59)

1st Place Match
Rick Couch (Archbishop Spalding) 37-5, Sr. over Mathew Jun (Mount Saint Joseph) 30-13, Jr. (Dec 6-0)
3rd Place Match
Sean M. Scott (McDonogh School) 32-12, Sr. over Jeremiah Aybar (Loyola Blakefield) 32-15, Fr. (Dec 1-0)
5th Place Match
Isaac Ruderman (Bullis School) 49-14, Jr. over Matt Amitay (Landon) 36-14, Jr. (Dec 5-0)
7th Place Match
Nick Kobrick (Archbishop Curley) 22-14, Jr. over CJ Kovalsay (Gerstell Academy) 18-14, Jr. (Fall 4:44)

1st Place Match
Max Hammond (Saint Paul`s) 5-0, Sr. over Connor Strong (Mount Saint Joseph) 19-6, Jr. (Dec 3-1)
3rd Place Match
Josh Aybar (Loyola Blakefield) 37-6, . over Brad LaBella (Severn School) 31-7, Jr. (MD 10-2)
5th Place Match
Nick Paolucci (Archbishop Spalding) 37-12, Jr. over Liam Handel (Bullis School) 37-17, Jr. (Dec 7-3)
7th Place Match
Rami Tados (Gerstell Academy) 26-7, Jr. over Carson Bulger (John Carroll) 2-3, So. (Fall 1:45)

1st Place Match
Garrett Fisk (Archbishop Spalding) 45-4, Sr. over Harrison Trahan (McDonogh School) 36-10, So. (Dec 7-3)
3rd Place Match
Chris Roybal (Mount Saint Joseph) 33-11, Jr. over Everette McDuffie (Saint Paul`s) 4-2, Sr. (Dec 4-3)
5th Place Match
Tristan Mckneely (Glenelg Country School) 39-12, Sr. over Kobe Borda (Georgetown Prep) 37-9, Sr. (Inj. 0:00)
7th Place Match
Canaan Tomlin (Bullis School) 42-21, So. over William Riley (Archbishop Curley) 24-14, Jr. (MD 8-0)

St. Joe’s Zach Phillips (right) knocked off third-ranked Dylan Blau of St. Paul’s, 8-3, to win the 160lbs championship.

1st Place Match
Zach Phillips (Mount Saint Joseph) 36-5, Sr. over Dylan Blau (Saint Paul`s) 3-1, Sr. (Dec 8-3)
3rd Place Match
James Conway (Loyola Blakefield) 40-8, . over Jonny Gherman (Landon) 28-6, Sr. (Dec 5-1)
5th Place Match
Gunnar Brodfuehrer (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 47-13, Sr. over Cole Joseph Robilotto (Good Counsel) 22-8, Sr. (Inj. 0:00)
7th Place Match
Dylan Lewis (Archbishop Spalding) 20-10, Fr. over Aidan Hurddle (McDonogh School) 14-19, Fr. (MD 10-0)

1st Place Match
Dominic Solis (McDonogh School) 35-8, Jr. over Jonathan Short (Mount Saint Joseph) 33-9, Sr. (Dec 7-2)
3rd Place Match
TJ Quelet (St. James School) 21-3, Sr. over Jelani Machen (Landon) 36-4, Sr. (For.)
5th Place Match
Avery Miller (Good Counsel) 37-14, Sr. over Mikey Neal (Calvert Hall) 3-3, . (Dec 7-4)
7th Place Match
William Greer (Saint Mary`s Ryken) 47-15, Sr. over Tim Kirlin (Georgetown Prep) 30-15, So. (Dec 3-0)

Top-ranked Justin Henry (top) of St. Joe clinched his second consecutive state crown with a 9-1 major-decision against No. 4 Jackson Bonitz of McDonogh.

1st Place Match
Justin Henry (Mount Saint Joseph) 26-4, Sr. over Jackson Bonitz (McDonogh School) 15-8, Jr. (MD 9-1)
3rd Place Match
Austin Brown (Bullis School) 50-9, Jr. over Ian Takas (Loyola Blakefield) 24-10, Sr. (Dec 9-6)
5th Place Match
Kevonte Beard (Gilman School) 24-12, Sr. over Peter Slear (Good Counsel) 27-17, Jr. (Dec 7-4)
7th Place Match
Paul Cardoni (The Heights School) 20-8, Sr. over Jack Guillard (St. James School) 32-16, Sr. (Dec 4-2)

1st Place Match
Jack Parr (Saint Paul`s) 4-0, Sr. over Jack Wimmer (McDonogh School) 40-9, Jr. (Dec 7-2)
3rd Place Match
Ethan Stern (Mount Saint Joseph) 37-9, Sr. over Drew Brenowitz (Good Counsel) 38-7, Sr. (Dec 5-2)
5th Place Match
Dustin Radford (Archbishop Spalding) 43-8, Jr. over Garrett Butt (Archbishop Curley) 26-13, Jr. (Dec 4-1)
7th Place Match
Tyler Rhodes (Saint Vincent Pallotti) 28-7, Sr. over Grant Maynard (Georgetown Prep) 22-21, Sr. (Dec 6-3)

1st Place Match
Garrett P. Kappes (McDonogh School) 30-3, . over Kyonte Hamilton (Georgetown Prep) 32-4, So. (Dec 9-3)
3rd Place Match
Parker Warner (Mount Saint Joseph) 33-9, Jr. over Caleb Tomlin (Bullis School) 48-10, Jr. (SV-1 4-2)
5th Place Match
Mattheus Carroll (Gilman School) 32-9, So. over Mike Vargas (Archbishop Curley) 33-11, Sr. (Fall 1:59)
7th Place Match
Maximus Grogans (Saint Vincent Pallotti) 23-7, Sr. over JT Morton (Boys` Latin) 18-19, Jr. (Fall 2:22)

St. Joe’s Isaac Wright (top) sinks in a half nelson on his way to a first period pin of McDonogh’s Cody Williams in the 285 final.

1st Place Match
Isaac Righter (Mount Saint Joseph) 34-1, Jr. over Cody Williams (McDonogh School) 20-8, Jr. (Fall 1:27)
3rd Place Match
Brandon Roberts (Good Counsel) 40-10, Jr. over Bennett Traurig (Loyola Blakefield) 35-6, Sr. (Dec 11-5)
5th Place Match
Jeremiah Trotman (Archbishop Curley) 15-7, Jr. over Terrell Jackson (Bullis School) 38-23, So. (Dec 7-3)
7th Place Match
Ben Couling (St. James School) 27-5, Jr. over Derek Jackson (Bishop McNamara) 12-11, So. (For.)

106-Wilkinson vs Pruett

113-Guida vs Flynn

120-Barnabae vs Strand

126-Truntich vs Porter

132-Kable vs J. Fisk

138-Couch vs Jun

145-Hammond vs Strong

152-G. Fisk vs Trahan

160-Phillips vs Blau

170-Solis vs Short

182-Henry vs Bonitz

195-Parr vs Wimmer

220-Kappes vs Hamilton

285-Righter vs Williams