- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Four of the county’s six wrestling teams were on hand Saturday at Lackey to clash in two separate matches, each involving the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference co-leading North Point Eagles.
And North Point continued its winning foray through the league, disposing of the overmatched McDonough Rams, 71-3, in a makeup of a Jan. 17 postponement. Then, North Point downed the Thomas Stone Cougars, 47-12, and the host Chargers, 40-29, in a tri-match that had been postponed from Thursday due to inclement weather.
Stone knocked off Lackey by a 48-32 outcome in the other clash of the tri-match.
McDonough did not wrestle Lackey or Stone; North Point was its only opponent on the day.
“We were a little tired versus Lackey, but that is to be expected seeing we have not had a regular practice schedule in three days and then went and wrestled three straight matches,” North Point head coach Rich Pauole said, his club being the only one Saturday to wrestle against that many opponents, capping its victorious efforts against a feisty Lackey squad that has steadily improved throughout the season. “We wrestled as well as we needed to during the last match.”
North Point (25-3, 9-1 SMAC) has not lost a regular season duals match since opening night on Dec. 5 in a 34-22 setback to La Plata, and was favored to keep that streak intact Tuesday against visiting Chopticon in a match that finished too late for inclusion into this edition.
The Eagles later avenged that loss by edging La Plata, 35-30, in the Warrior duals right before Christmas. The tournament saw the Eagles suffer their only other two duals losses this season, coming against South River of Anne Arundel County, ranked 10th in the state as of last week, and Great Bridge (Va.).
North Point was a SMAC-best 13th in the state rankings as of last week.
“We are working on getting to that peak [every team wants when the postseason arrives], so hopefully we can have some decent weather to make it a little easier to stay on schedule,” Pauole added, desirous of inclement-free weather to keep North Point’s practices and matches from being postponed this final full week of the regular season and beyond. “The team is wrestling well, as we only dropped three individual matches to Thomas Stone and [three individual matches to] Leonardtown earlier in the week.
“Only the regional duals will tell if we are wrestling with the same intensity as we were last year.”
Regional duals tournaments kick off the postseason next Wednesday. Only the top four teams in each region make their respective regional duals tournaments.
Entering Tuesday’s action, North Point led the Class 4A-3A South Region field of nine SMAC teams and 15 Prince George’s County squads gunning for a coveted berth into regional duals.
Should North Point win its final two matches this week as expected, it would host the South Region duals as the top seed looking to win the tournament for a second straight year. North Point is already the repeat host of the state duals tournament.
Though Lackey (11-18, 5-5) was swept by its Waldorf opponents, it tested North Point the most Saturday by claiming six of the 14 bouts in a rather unconventional match when it came to how the scoring unfolded.
North Point took advantage of a favorable draw to start the match at heavyweight and raced out to a 39-0 lead by taking the first seven bouts, the latter six via pin.
Lackey did not throw in the towel easily, winning six of the final seven bouts, which included a marquee match-up at 152 pounds with senior Connor Welch outlasting North Point senior Andrew Lohr, 5-3.
Welch used two takedowns in the opening period to take control of the showdown, only yielding three escapes to Lohr.
Lackey closed the match by winning the final four bouts via a pair of major decisions and two pins. North Point lost three team points due to unsportsmanlike conduct, and the outcome was just by 11 points.
“Before the match against North Point, I told my guys that I thought that we could win seven [individual] matches,” Lackey head coach Stephen Gilligan said. “They all kind of looked at me like I was nuts. I knew that after weigh-ins, the way the two teams matched up, that splitting the [individual] matches, 7-7, was very possible. North Point definitely has more firepower than we do, and I knew that they would win the battle of bonus points.
“In the end, we won six of the eight matches, and I feel that we gave a worthy effort against one of the top teams in the state.”
Pauole added of Lackey, “They are improving, but again, we were a bit tired from the school cancellations and not having a set schedule.”
Welch also edged another state-placing hopeful Saturday in Stone sophomore Ryan Sharp in a dramatic finish, capturing a 6-4 overtime win.
Five straight pins from Stone before that tight tussle had all but doomed Lackey’s chances for a victory.
“I thought that overall, our team wrestled well,” Gilligan said about Saturday. “Against Thomas Stone, we were missing one of our varsity starters because he was taking the SAT, and I made a decision to bump my 113-pound wrestler up to 120 and that backfired on us. So, I think the match could have been closer than what it was, but hats off to Stone. They have a tough team.”