There was a lot of anticipation and buildup leading into the early season MIAA A Conference wrestling showdown that pitted Mount St. Joseph against St. Paul’s, Wednesday night in Brooklandville, and the hype was justified as the two rivals battled down to the final match before the visiting Gaels pulled out a 32-28 victory.

In fact, the packed house at St. Paul’s was treated to one of the best MIAA Matches in recent years, on a night that was filled with competition and drama.

“We realized going into the St. Paul’s match that it was going to be a battle,” Gaels head coach Harry Barnabae said. “The separation between the two teams was going to be a matter of a few points.

“Two pins to begin the match by Jon Short and Neil Schuster were a big boost for our team. Keagan Rill and Shawn Orem also secured pins for the team. I was very proud of our entire squad particularly our wrestlers that went down in defeat. Every one of them battled with a great deal of heart and intensity. David Schultz also had a big win against rival Jack Parr.”

Short (152) and Schuster (160) pushed Mt. St. Joe out to a 12-0 lead after both collected falls to kick off the dual meet. Short built a big lead before finally securing the fall midway through the third period against Connor Slain.

“I wanted to go out with at least a win, but the thing I wanted most was a pin,” Short added. “I was like let’s get it. I knew that pin was huge. As soon as I got off the mat everybody was like that’s huge, that’s huge. And later in the match I saw how huge it was.”

Schuster, a private school state runner-up last season, wasted little time in his bout, flattening Dom Piazza in 54 seconds.

“I knew we just had to get that momentum rolling,” said Schuster. “I went out there and knew what I had to do. Just do what the coaches have trained us to do really. That was huge for the team getting two sixes back-to-back. It made the team real excited which was good.”

Private school state champion Dale Tiongson got St. Paul’s on the board with a 14-5 major decision over Justin Henry.

Public school state runner-up, David Schultz, who transferred to St. Joe from Linganore High School in Frederick County, stepped on the mat and looked across at his new rival, Jack Parr, who was second in the private school state tournament last year. The battle of state runner-ups did not disappoint as both wrestlers went at it, full throttle, for six minutes. When the buzzer sounded, Schultz was the victor, picking up a 5-2 decision to make the score 15-4 in favor of the Gaels.

“I needed to respect his style of wrestling and just go do my own thing out there,” Schultz continued. “Make him adapt to my style of wrestling instead of me adapting to his. It’s a lot of fun (being on a competitive team). There’s a lot of adrenaline. Down here it’s really a lot of fun. It’s not what I’m used to and I like it a lot.”

St. Paul’s won the next two matches at 195 and 220 to close the gap to five, 15-10. Noah Kalishman, the state’s top ranked 195lber in the latest rankings by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, downed Austin Stith, 7-0. State runner-up John Urban defeated the Gaels’ Paul Warner, 5-0.
Keagan Rill made quick work of Logan Johnson to get Mt. St. Joe back in the win column at 285 and push the Gaels’ lead to 21-10.

The Crusaders went on a run after Cadet World Champion Kurt McHenry (106) registered a major-decision over Chris Barnabae, 20-12. Freshman Will Guida (113) added a major-decision of his own, 14-2, against Griffith Dean. Jacob Crenshaw (120), another St. Paul’s freshman, picked off St. Joe’s two-time state placer Pat Langeluttig, 4-0, to keep the roll going for the Crusaders. Three-time state champion Daniel Planta stepped on the mat at 126, and his 6-2 win over Nathan Porter gave St. Paul’s their first lead of the day, 24-21.

With three matches remaining the gym was electric. Fans for both squads were cheering at a fever pitch. Senior, defending state champion, Shawn Orem, the state’s No.1 132lber delivered a big pin for the Gaels, dropping Logan King at the 2:52 mark of the second period. The Gaels were back out-front, 27-24.

“We just had to get back in our groove,” Orem said. “Start getting rolling. I just wanted to wrestle. Wrestle my match. I figured it (the pin) would come once I got there. It was awesome. I really wanted to get these guys grounded though. Keep rallying, keep them calm, not overreact to anything or do anything stupid. Just go out and wrestle, have fun, and stay calm.”

Imran Heard (138), who transferred from St. John’s in Washington D.C., put the Crusaders back in the lead, 28-27, with a major-decision, 14-5, over Chris Roybal.

This set the stage for a winner take all final bout. Mt. St. Joe’s Seth Fillers (145) squared off with Everett McDuffie in a match that had both teams on their feet. Fillers jumped out to an early lead, almost closing the deal with a pin multiple times, but McDuffie kept fighting back. Fillers’ big moves proved to be too much in the end as the sophomore earned a technical-fall, 22-7, and with it the team win, 32-28.

“I was just trying to go out there and get a win for the team,” Fillers added. “It’s all about the team. I just went out there and wrestled and do what I normally do. If I lost that, I would have a rough few weeks. I was very excited. I looked over at the team and they were all cheering. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget.”

“I couldn’t have been more proud of not only the kids that competed, but the whole team,” St. Paul’s Head Coach Rob Eiter said. “The excitement and energy on the bench was everything I was hoping for. For this being my first match not only in the MIAA, but as a high school coach, I could not have been happier. Even though we came out on the short end of the team score, I felt we wrestled very well.  Obviously, we need to work on a few positions, but every day we are getting better and as long as we build, it will be an exciting year.”

“I have the upmost respect for Coach Barnabae and the Mt. St. Joe’s wrestlers.  They are very well coached and are solid up and down the line-up.  I look forward to seeing them throughout the year at various competitions.”

In the opening match of the tri-meet with Boys’ Latin, St. Paul’s beat the Lakers 72-6. Mt. St. Joe squared off with Boys’ Latin in the next match and walked away with a 78-12 victory. Heavyweight Alec Blume pinned both of his opponents for the Lakers.

(Match started at 152)
152-Jonathan Short (MSJ) pinned Connor Slain, 4:46
160-Neil Schuster (MSJ) pinned Dom Piazza, :54
170-Dale Tiongson (St.P) maj-dec Justin Henry, 14-5
182-David Schultz (MSJ) dec Jack Parr, 5-2
195-Noah Kalishman (St.P) dec Austin Stith, 7-0
220-John Urban (St.P) dec Paul Warner, 5-0
285-Keagan Rill (MSJ) pinned Logan Johnson, :36
106-Kurt McHenry (St.P) maj-dec Chris Barnabae, 20-12
113-Will Guida (St.P) maj-dec Griffith Dean, 14-2
120-Jacob Crenshaw (St.P) dec Pat Langeluttig, 4-0
126-Daniel Planta (St.P) dec Nathan Porter, 6-2
132-Shawn Orem (MSJ) pinned Logan King, 2:52
138-Imran Heard (St.P) maj-dec Chris Roybal, 14-5
145-Seth Fillers (MSJ) tech-fall Everett McDuffie, 22-7

(Match started at 145)
145-Ethan Stern (MSJ) won by forfeit
152-Jonathan Short (MSJ) pinned Evan Gaines, 3:21
160-Neil Schuster (MSJ) pinned Walker Santos, 1:04
170-Justin Henry (MSJ) pinned Ryan Trupia, 5:04
182-David Schultz (MSJ) pinned Joey Short, 1;00
195-Austin Stith (MSJ) pinned JT Morgan, 1:05
220-Keagan Rill (MSJ) won by forfeit
285-Alec Blume (BL) pinned William Ballinger, 1:20
106-Chris Barnabae (MSJ) won by forfeit
113-Eli Schilling (BL) won by forfeit
120-Matthew Jun (MSJ) pinned Luke Fowler, :55
126-Nathan Porter (MSJ) won by forfeit
132-Shawn Orem (MSJ) pinned Zach Dudley, :28
138-Seth Fillers (MSJ) pinned Justin Waters, :15

(Match started at 138)
138-Imran Heard (St.P) pinned Justin Waters, :25
145-Connor Slain (St.P) won by forfeit
152-Everett McDuffie (St.P) dec Evan Gaines, 12-5
160-Dom Piazza (St.P) maj-dec Walker Santos, 8-0
170-Dale Tiongson (St.P) tech-fall Ryan Trupia, 17-0
182-Jack Parr (St.P) pinned Joey Short, 1:24
195-Noah Kalishman (St.P) pinned JT Morgan, :19
220-John Urban (St.P) pinned Mac Alban, 1:23
285-Alec Blume (BL) pinned Logan Johnson, :55
106-Will Guida (St.P) won by forfeit
113-Kurt McHenry (St.P) pinned Eli Schilling, 1:06