A major decision by Tim Costello (106) in the final bout turned a two-point deficit into a 34-32 victory for St. John’s over Good Counsel during a tri-meet at Bishop O’Connell in Arlington on Wednesday, ending the Falcons’ four-year winning streak in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference dual meets at 55.
Coached by Magruder graduate and three-time state champion Cam Watkins, the Cadets trailed, 32-30, after yielding forfeits at 285 and 220 pounds, the latter to private schools state champion Brady Daniel.
A 113-pound runner-up at December’s Magruder tournament, Costello switched lineup positions with teammate and county resident Luke Kowalski, a 106-pound Magruder champion whose 10-5 decision over Conor Lozupone gave St. John’s a 3-0 lead after the night’s first bout at 113.
“Their 106-pounder is pretty good, and so is ours, so we wanted them to meet,” said Watkins, whose Cadets won the Magruder tournament. “They had to send out first at 113, and they sent Lozupone out, and we followed him out by sending Luke.”
The maneuver paid off for Kowalski, an Olney resident whose father, John, was a state runner-up Magruder as a senior in 1978.
“I knew Conor from wrestling with the Outlaws in the beltway leagues. I was there for a while, and Conor joined a couple of years after,” said Kowalski, a freshman.
“We’re pretty good friends who were always around the same weight. I knew I could beat him, but the pressure was really on to wrestle well because a loss was could put the overall match into jeopardy.”
It was 9-6, Cadets, after pins in the next two bouts from Magruder champ Gavin Stoddard (120) of St. John’s and the Falcons’ Cord Richardson (126), and, 15-6, St. John’s after a fall from the Cadets’ Magruder title winner Aidan Rocha (132) and a decision from the Falcons’ Cole Robilotto (138).
“Going in we knew it was going to be close the whole way and come down to bonus points with us not having a full team and giving up forfeits,” said Rocha, a senior who lives in Olney. “I knew some of us had to step up and put our guys away with pins, and we were hoping the bonus points would take care of the rest.”
Senior Jack Cassidy (145), whose the Falcons’ Avery Miller in 33 seconds for the Magruder crown at 152, also decked his Good Counsel dual meet opponent while Miller decisioned his 152-pound St. John’s rival for an overall match score of, 21-12, Cadets.
Although the Falcons were within, 21-20, following a pin by private schools state champion Bailey Thomas (160) and a 16-14 overtime victory by Alwynn Taylor (170) over Steve Wentz, it was, 30-20, Cadets with three bouts left following a 7-3 decision by 182-pound Magruder champ Zach Wentz (182) over the Falcons’ 170-pound Magruder title winner Ryan Briggs and a pin by WCAC champion Brian Hennessy (195).
“There were times where we didn’t get bonus points I thought we should have, and a couple of tossup matches that were close like 170, where Steve Wentz hadn’t wrestled since the beginning of last year and lost to Alwynn Taylor,” said Watkins, whose Cadets are 4-0 in all WCAC matches.
“We almost had to default Steve’s match because we couldn’t stop his nose from bleeding, then Zach, Steven’s twin brother, stepped up and won against a tossup match against a tough kid in Briggs.”
The Cadets trailed, 32-30, after yielding the forfeits to the Falcons of coach Skyar Saar, who were undefeated spanning four seasons and 55 consecutive dual meets and who are winners of four consecutive WCAC tournaments and five of the past six.
“Everyone loses sometime,” said Sarr, whose Falcons won last year’s private schools state title after being a third behind host McDonogh of Baltimore and John Carroll of Harford county in 2015 and winning by half a point in 2014. “We will survive.”