In its final tournament before next weekend’s Maryland State Independent Championships, the Our Lady of Good Counsel High School wrestling team proved it can hang with the big boys.
Now, the question is: Will the Falcons be able to beat them?
Good Counsel recorded its best-ever finish Saturday at the prestigious St. Albans Tournament in Washington, D.C., placing second behind Wyoming Seminary. Good Counsel recorded 270 points, 36 behind the third-ranked team in the nation, and finished with five individual champions. Adam Whitesell (106 pounds), Kevin Budock (120), Jhared Simmons (126) Spencer Neff (195) and Kyle Snyder (220) all took home first place medals, while Matt Kelly (132) and second-year wrestler Donovan McAfee (160) both lost their championship matches.
“We wanted to come in and have a chance to win it,” Falcons coach Skylar Saar said. “It was good to get second. Our lower weights wrestled on top of their games today and then Spencer and Kyle were there to do their usual great things.”
While Saar was pleased with the result, his team’s sights are set on next weekend at McDonough High and trying to bring home the school’s first state title. With the upper-weight anchors of Neff and Snyder, and such strength in the lower weights, the Falcons could surprise.
“We want to win a state title. There’s no doubt about it. We’ve talked about it all year. I know we’re not the favorites, but we’re going to wrestle like we are,” Saar said. “If we wrestle like I know we can, I think we’ll have a shot. And that’s all you can ask for is to have a shot.”
Good Counsel finished fourth at St. Albans last season and third the year before. Meanwhile, Georgetown Prep (169) took fourth in this year’s tournament and DeMatha (108.5) finished eighth. The Hoyas had two individual champions in the 28-team tournament — Michael Sprague at 145 and Troy Murtha at 170 — while the Stags’ Clay Conaway was the only wrestler to reach the finals, losing to Wyoming Seminary’s Eric Morris. Landon School, Potomac School, Bullis and The Heights all had wrestlers place in the top eight.
“It’s a good test overall. One thing, I always tell them I want you to hold seed. I think everybody held seed,” Georgetown Prep coach Mike Kubik said. “We had two champs, so I was proud of them and we won 10 of our last 14 matches, so that’s exciting.”
Most exciting, or rather outstanding, however, was Bishop McNamara’s Alfred Bannister. The remarkably talented 138-pounder won his weight class for the third consecutive year, this time in dominant fashion. Bannister pinned Wyoming Seminary’s Jesse Holton in just 18 seconds, one of two wrestlers to record a fall in the finals. Snyder notched a technical fall against his opponent, but other than those two and Wyoming Seminary heavyweight Michael Johnson, every other championship match was decided by regular decision.
For his efforts in the finals and throughout the tournament, Bannister was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler.
“I feel great,” said Bannister, a junior. “I went from having a triple-overtime match my freshman year to a major [decision] last year to a pin in the first period this year. I’m definitely proud of my progress.
“Everything’s good right now and I’m just waiting for the National Preps’ finals match. That’s where my head’s at.”
Before that, of course, Bannister will have an opportunity to win his third straight Independent State title next weekend. Then he will attempt to claim first at National Preps after finishing second last year.
St. Albans Tournament
106: Adam Whitesell (Good Counsel) d. Joey Prata (St. Christopher’s), 4-3
113: Steven Simpson (St. Mary’s Ryken) d. Danny Boychuck (Wyoming Seminary), 7-1
120: Kevin Budock (Good Counsel) d. Jeremy Schwartz (Wyoming Seminary), 3-0
126: Jhared Simmons (Good Counsel) d. Jawan Jones (St. Benedict’s), 8-2
132: Tyler Ponte (Wyoming Seminary) d. Matt Kelly (Good Counsel), 5-1
138: Alfred Bannister (Bishop McNamara) f. Jesse Holton (Wyoming Seminary), 0:18
145: Michael Sprague (Georgetown Prep) d. Jake Savoca (Wyoming Seminary), 3-1
152: Robert Janis (St. Christopher’s) d. Joey Nelson (Wyoming Seminary), 5-2
160: Josh Simon (St. Johns) d. Donovan McAfee (Good Counsel), 4-3
170: Troy Murtha (Georgetown Prep) d. Terrell Forbes (St. Benedict’s), 6-2
182: Eric Morris (Wyoming Seminary) d. Clay Conaway (DeMatha), 5-0
195: Spencer Neff (Good Counsel) d. Matt Doggett (Wyoming Seminary), 6-2
220: Kyle Snyder (Good Counsel) t.f. Ryan Garrett (Wyoming Seminary), 4:58
285: Michael Johnson (Wyoming Seminary) f. Miles Brown (Sidwell Friends), 0:31
1. Wyoming Seminary, 306
2. Good Counsel, 270
3. St. Christopher’s, 178.5
4. Georgetown Prep, 169
5. Benedictine, 168
6. St. Benedict’s, 138.5
7. St. John’s, 119
8. DeMatha, 108.5
9. St. Mary’s Ryken, 88
10. Woodberry Forest, 85