Wrestling: Saint James earns share of MAC title

January 25, 2013

WASHINGTON — While the Saint James wrestling team finished second to Potomac School at the Mid-Atlantic Conference tournament Friday at Sidwell Friends, the Saints still left with at least a share of the conference title.

The Saints won the MAC regular-season duals, finishing 5-0, while Potomac School, which lost 39-36 to Saint James in a December dual, most likely will finish second at 4-1. Potomac still has to wrestle St. Andrew’s Episcopal, a team Saint James crushed 72-9 earlier this month.

The combined tournament and dual-meet results likely will leave Saint James and Potomac as MAC co-champions with 11 points each. (Six points are awarded for first-place finishes, in each the duals and tourney, while five points are given for second.)

Potomac prevailed Friday with 134 points, while the Saints held off defending MAC champion Sidwell Friends 116-113 for second in the six-team field.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Saint James coach Steve Lachut, who was hoping to win the overall title outright. “But it doesn’t take away from what we did in the dual season, and it doesn’t take away from the hard work these guys have put in.”

Nine Saints placed in the top three in their weight classes Friday, led by champions Justin Pank (145 pounds) and Leighton Younger (182). Pank was the MAC champ at 132 last year.

“I’m real proud of Justin Pank,” Lachut said. “He was sick all week, but he battled through it and still went out and won all of his matches.

“And Leighton Younger, in the semifinals, wrestled his best match all season (defeating Sidwell Friends’ Isaiah Davis 8-5).”

Levi Schindel (126), Kevin Cooper (132), Henry Smith (160), John Stephens (170), Steven Hart (220) and Nico Gentile (285) each finished second for the Saints, while Will Smith (138) was third.

“We definitely left some points on the mat. We had some winnable matches in the finals that we didn’t win,” Lachut said. “But for the most part, we took care of the business we had to take care of.”

The Saints hadn’t won a MAC wrestling title since 2005, and they hadn’t won a MAC title in any sport since the boys lacrosse team was a co-champion in 2007.

“None of our current students had won a MAC championship in anything,” Lachut said. “I’m real proud of the kids for buying in and working hard toward this goal.”

— Andrew Mason

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