While inclement weather may have greeted the visitors and various onlookers when they arrived at McDonough High School for Tuesday’s Southern Maryland Athletic Conference wrestling match, conditions proved markedly ideal inside the Rams’ gymnasium.
Then on the mat, it was visiting Northern which controlled the proceedings by prevailing 66-18.
Northern (17-5 overall) made quick work of McDonough as it recorded nine pins and won two other matches via forfeit. Each of the first four Northern wrestlers won via pin, three in the second period. Later, after the Rams dented the scoreboard with a pair of pins, five other Patriots posted first-period pins as none of the 14 bouts reached the third period.
“I thought a lot of the guys did well,” Northern assistant coach Mike Leadbeter said. “No matter who wins, I don’t like to single anyone out. They all have something they need to work on before the postseason starts. McDonough has a good team and their guys all wrestled tough. For us, a lot of guys have improved. But they each have to continue to get better.”
McDonough (7-7 after a 44-36 win over Gwynn Park of Prince George's County on Wednesday night) appeared on the verge of being swept until Darnell Payne won his 195-pound bout with Northern’s Vinnie Zanelotti via late first-period pin. McDonough’s Nolyn Hudler later posted a second-period pin of Northern’s Hayden Phillips at 120, then Byron Rodriguez (126) recorded a late second-period pin of the Patriots’ Joshua Shutt.
“One thing about this team is they have more heart than any other team I’ve coached,” McDonough head coach Josh Stewart said. “We’re young. A lot of the best guys are sophomores. Considering where we were just three years ago with only four wrestlers on the roster to over two dozen now, that shows a lot about the heart of the kids here at this school.”
Northern’s Hayden Cleary (152) opened the proceedings with a first-period pin of McDonough’s Elizabeth Heglar, who was named the top female wrestler at the Keaser Classic tournament at the University of Maryland Baltimore County last month. Conor Irving (160) then recorded a late second-period pin of the Rams’ Toby Goldsmith and Gavin Whittington (170) posted a second-period pin of Chris Evans.
After Northern’s Ty Fleming (182) posted a late second-period pin of the Rams’ Adnan Shabani, Payne pinned Zanelotti to end the Patriots’ bid for a complete sweep of the dual meet. One year ago, Payne was 2-11 during the SMAC schedule then placed fifth at the conference tournament and has continued to progress this winter.
“One year ago, Darnell was way under .500, but this year he’s one of our guys with a winning record,” Stewart said. “He’s one of those guys that hates to miss practice. We have a lot of guys that love to put in the time in the wrestling room.”
Northern’s Gannon Terrill (220), Jakob Getsinger (285) and Dylan Montgomery (106) all posted consecutive first-period pins, then Patriots’ Michael Bronk (113) won via forfeit. After Hudler and Rodriguez (126) won with pins, the Patriots’ Fynn Yankanich (132) and Owen Andriani (138) posted first-period pins and Kaleb Dolina (145) won the finale via forfeit.
The Patriots are scheduled to return to action at 5 p.m. Tuesday in a tri-match at La Plata that also includes Patuxent. McDonough’s next slated match is also at 5 p.m. Tuesday in a tri-match versus Calvert and host Leonardtown.