Dominant was theonly word needed to describe the St. Rita wrestling team on Saturday.
The Mustangs turned the Class 3A MountCarmel Regional into its own personal dual meet. Rita placed all 14 grapplers into the finals and ran away with the team title with 252 total points. Host MountCarmel finished a distant second with 196 points.
The top three place winners in each weight class advance to the Shepard Sectional next weekend. By winning the team title, Rita will advance to the team sectional on Feb. 19.
“That’s always the goal, no matter what week you are in or what tournament,” St. Rita coach Dan Manzella said of advancing all 14 wrestlers to sectional. “You always want to see your guys continue. We had some favorable draws today and the kids took advantage of it.”
One grappler Manzella lauded was senior MikeO’Connor. The 132-pounder captured his third consecutive regional championship and according to his coach, has won at least 30 matches all four seasons.
“He has done a great job,” Manzella said. “He’s been one hell of a captain and I am going to hate to see him go.”
Other champions for the Mustangs were Tino Ortiz (113), Mike Falco (126), Ronnan Sullivan (138), Jack Sears (170), Ben Threloff (195), Keith McGee (220) and Tommy Schofield (285).
The tournament field featured two top-ranked individual wrestlers — neither disappointed.
MountCarmel junior Bryce Brill (41-0) picked up a pin in 3:27 to capture the 145 title. Brill, who lost a heart-breaking 3-2 decision in the state championship match last season, was pleased with his performance.
“Personally I felt really good today,” said Brill, who was a state champion at 135 as a freshman. “I am just excited to continue this state series.”
As for the loss last year?
“To be honest, I haven’t really thought about it,” he said. “I just have the mindset to score points and the score will take care of itself.”
The other No. 1 grappler in the field was 106 champion, Rudy Yates (34-0). The Brother Rice freshman defeated Jake Silzer of Rita, 8-3, the third time the two have met this season.
“This feels good,” Yates said. “But it’s just another tournament and I just need to keep on working and moving forward.”
MountCarmel advanced 11 of its 14 wrestlers onto the sectional level, while Brother Rice, who finished third with 136 points, will be represented with seven grapplers next weekend.
The most exciting match of the tournament came in the 160 title match. Rice’s Nuntreae Jackson hit a duck under and successful leg sweep for a takedown to score a 6-4 win over Rita’s Tyree Lee in overtime. Jackson registered an escape with 24 second left in regulation to force the extra period.
Other champions included MountCarmel’s Jake Tucker (120), Notay Jackson (152) and Jimmy Mickens (182).