When Keith Watson accepted the head coaching position at the John Carroll School in 2003, he was taking on a challenge. The program was among the lowest ranks of the MIAA “B” Conference and even in-county opponents were passing the Patriots to face better private school talent.
But fast forward to 2011 and you will find the No. 3 Patriots are without a doubt the strongest they have been, being the premier team of Harford County and earning a first ever win over No. 7 Mount St. Joe, 34-27.
“What beating Mount St. Joe means to John Carroll wrestling is that it’s a validation of our effort,” Watson said. “It is another step up an ever changing ladder.”
The Pats claimed more than half of the bouts on the night, using every kind of individual win to capture the seven-point victory, including two falls by Mathew Miller (189) and Artie Millner (103).
Mount St. Joe opened the night with a 12-0 lead from pinner Tyler Rill (160) and decision winners Salmon (152) and Berlin (171), and added another nine team-points with a fall from Tyler Tippett (215) and decision by Keith Waddell (285) for a 21-6 lead nearly halfway through the meet.
But that’s when the John Carroll lineup came crashing back, using Miller’s fall at 189 to spark a seven-match winning streak, seeing four bonus-point wins to claim the eventual win.
Devin Davis and Dan Froehlich combined their major decisions at 112 and 135 with a Scott Strapelli tech fall at 119 to add bonus points to the Patriot score, and solid decisions by Josh Moscati (125), George Weber (130) and Joe Vitucci would round-out the 34-point score.
Gael wrestler Brady Massaro closed the night with a fall at 145, but the six-point win was not enough to cover the 13-point deficit, resulting in the John Carroll win, 34-27.
John Carroll has ascended its allegorical ladder rung by rung, as it started its 2003 campaign with losses to AACS, Spalding and St. Mary’s while trying to take hold of a “B” Conference title, but the team’s gradual success saw a move up to the “A” Conference.
At that time, and for most of the MIAA’s history, the conference had dealt with powerhouse teams like Mount St. Joe, McDonogh and Archbishop Curley, but John Carroll quickly threw its hat into the ring by starting to upset some of the said teams and ranking as high as second in the MIAA Conference Tournament in 2010.
“This year we beat Mount St. Joe and Curley, and won half of the matches against McDonogh in our dual meet,” Watson said. “I feel like we belong in the upper echelon of the state, and it shouldn’t be surprise anymore to see John Carroll ranked.
”Hopefully in the future, Harford County wrestlers, that in years past drove right by us to go to Curley, Loyola and Calvert Hall, will come to us.”
No. 3 John Carroll 34, No. 7 Mount St. Joe 27
152 Salmon (MSJ) wbd 5-2 Owens
160 Rill (MSJ) wbf 1:45 Etkins
171 Berlin (MSJ) wbd 12-7 Kelble
189 Miller (JC) wbf 3:25 Lucas
215 Tippett (MSJ) wbf 3:55 Grimm
285 Waddell (MSJ) wbd 5-3 Clingerman
103 Millner (JC) wbf 2:45 Jones
112 Davis (JC) wbmd 10-2 Proctor
119 Strappelli (JC) wbtf 17-2 (5:55) Matson
125 Moscati (JC) wbd 8-3 OT Klose
130 Weber (JC) wbd 2-0 Johnson
135 Froehlich (JC) wbmd 8-0 Parrish
140 Vitucci (JC) wbd 6-4 Sarbanes
145 Massaro (MSJ) wbf 1:56 Donato