- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
What better way to take a hold of a dual wrestling match than to have three four-year seniors wrestle in back-to-back-to-back matches and each earn pinfall victories on senior night.
That Hollywood-script type scenario took place inside St. Mary’s Ryken High School on Thursday afternoon against the visiting Gonzaga Eagles.
Down 15-12 to Gonzaga of Washington, D.C., senior Jack Krall (145) earned a first-period pin, senior Daniel Murphy (152) earned a first-period pin and senior Dustin Whittles (160) earned a second-period pin.
And within a short amount of time, the Knights were up 30-15 and it paved the way for the eventual 42-30 victory.
“These last four years have meant the world to me,” Whittles said. “It has taught me a lot about life, like hard work does pay off, people don’t just say that, it actually does pay off. Once you wrestle, everything else in life is easy. It’s pretty sad it’s my last night, it’s bittersweet. I am going to miss the team. ... To finish up Ryken wrestling on senior night was a great feeling.”
In addition to winning, a different source of motivation was found amongst the seniors on their night of celebration.
“Well, it was senior night, so I had to impress my mom and my dad and my buddies,” Krall said, “so basically I was trying to take him down and get a quick pin.”
Murphy added, “In front of all my friends and family, this was one of the best opportunities and I’m just speechless. Four years of wrestling ... it was good to get this win under my belt in front of all my friends and family.”
And although Whittles, Krall and Murphy were the catalysts behind the momentum surge, senior Gerard Conkrite kept it going late in the match with his first-period pin in the 182-pound bout, giving Ryken a 36-21 lead.
Throughout the middle to late stages of the lineup is where second-year head coach Mike Myers admitted his strong points lie and those strong points flexed its muscle on Thursday thanks to the wrestling of his seniors.
“I’ve only had the privilege of coaching them two years,” Myers said, “and they come through big. That’s where the strong point of our lineup is. ... I know that’s where we’re strongest at. I mean, pin, pin, pin and that’s something that we needed to happen.”
Myers also took notice of two important bout that, in his opinion, led to the victory for the Knights, the 120 bout featuring a Derek Willis 6-4 decision and a Alfonso Nazzaro 2-0 win in overtime at 138.
“That’s a six-point swing on both of those matches,” Myers said. “Those two swing matches, we knew we had to win those two matches to make sure that the dual stayed close and we stayed in control. When we won those two matches, we knew coming into the middle of the lineup, we were going to be tough.”
The seniors also took notice of the coaching job Myers has done in just the start of his Ryken coaching career, coaching the Knights to a fifth-place team finish at the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships this past weekend at St. John’s in Washington, D.C.
“They have been pretty tough,” Murphy said of the coaching staff.. “They have taught us a lot of stuff, but I have to also give credit to the previous head coach, Gary Willis. I am thankful for both of these coaches for guiding me along the way.”
Ryken finished the regular season with a 7-5 overall record, 6-2 WCAC.
The last time the Knights were above .500 overall and in the conference to finish the regular season was in the 2006-07 campaign when they were 5-4 in both categories.
Ryken also pumped out two individual WCAC champions on Saturday at the WCAC tournament hosted by St. John’s.
Steven Simpson won the 113-pound championship and Josh Llopez won the 170-pound title.
For Llopez, that makes it three for three for the junior as far as conference tournament championship titles are concerned, winning his first two as a freshman and sophomore in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.
Simpson adds to his impressive season with a WCAC title to go along with a second-place finish at the Raymond B. Oliver Invitational in Owings Mills to start the season and first place overall at the Glenn Jones Charger Classic at Lackey two weeks later.
Ryken placed fifth overall with 95 points, with Good Counsel from Montgomery County taking the top prize with 251.5 points.