Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008

Prep wrestling is the favorite in IAC

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With one more win against Episcopal Wednesday, the Georgetown Prep wrestling team will secure at least a share of its fourth straight Interstate Athletic Conference title.

Not bad for a team that routinely resided in the cellar before its recent turnaround under nine-year coach Mike Kubic, whose squad had compiled records of 13-0 overall and 4-0 in the IAC heading into Wednesday’s contest with the Maroon, who hold a similar 4-0 league mark.

‘‘We’ve done a lot of good things,” Kubic said. ‘‘I thought we would be solid but it’s pretty neat how we’re pretty tough at every weight class. We don’t really have any holes at all. We have a lot of kids who have over 20 wins right now.”

The overall depth is highlighted by 217-pound senior Chancellor Gaffney (26-2 record) and 142-pound freshman Bobby Gribbin (30-4), and Kubic believes it could help land the Little Hoyas the tournament title despite other teams holding near sure champions at various weight classes, including Bullis senior Mattie Danielson, who will likely become the school’s all-time leader in wins at this Saturday’s Bullis-hosted Interstate Athletic Conference championship tournament.

‘‘I think if everybody just wrestles the way they can, we should have a decent shot,” Kubic said. ‘‘I think our depth is going to give other teams fits. Just about every kid has a chance to make it to the final. I don’t know how many champions we’ll have [but] we had 11 kids place at the Perry Hall tournament [resulting in a tournament victory]. I don’t think we have any overwhelming kids but they’ve all placed in a tournament this year.”

Conversely, Landon, which tied for the 2006 IAC crown, had its depth depleted by injury. But the squad does have some wrestlers who will likely vie for IAC crowns, including Mike Kelly (162), Cullen Cassidy (173), Nick Vassos (191) and Trey Smith (217).

‘‘We have more potential champions than we’ve had in the past,” said Bears coach Andy Katz, whose team lost starters Gus Umanzor and Brian Kelly to injury leading to records of 4-7 overall and 2-2 in the IAC with a match against Bullis remaining. ‘‘We’ve been struggling with a lot of guys out of the lineup. We lost Gus Umanzor, who shattered his ankle. He probably would have won the IACs at heavyweight.

‘‘Prep is pretty strong. They’re just looking good up and down the lineup. We’ll have a lot of final matches with Prep kids. It’s more of a fight for second place [in the league].”

Danielson, who is 32-0 this season, leads a youthful Bullis squad that has compiled an 8-18 overall mark and a 0-4 record in IAC play this season. A three-year IAC champion, Danielson, who is headed to Gettysburg College (Pa.), enters Wednesday’s match with Landon with 147 career wins, placing him one behind all-time leader Tanner Cerrand, a 2000 graduate, who compiled a 148-51 record.

Danielson, the third-ranked wrestler in the state at 137 pounds, is the 27th Bullis wrestler to reach 100 career wins and he’s already surpassed former Bullis stars in Andre Kelley (143-20-1), Max Meltzer (143-12) and Chris Eig (142-43).

‘‘It’s a big deal, but in reality some of the kids that I’m passing on wins, they are better than me,” said Danielson, who hopes to avert last year’s disappointing finish at states and National Preps that was fueled by a late-season illness. ‘‘Hopefully, I’ll win my fourth IAC and break the record. That will be a good day.”

As a team, Bullis coach Ali Elias said his Bulldogs has ‘‘too many holes this season” to compete for the title.

‘‘We’re a better team than last year but we don’t have four weight classes,” he said. ‘‘We’ll have the kids do their best and be positive about the team.”