Alfred Bannister, Eric Hong and Michael Sprague win National Preps wrestling titles


Alfred Bannister of McNamara, shown last week at the Maryland Independent Schools championship, ended his high school career with his second National Preps title. (Photo by Doug Kapustin/For The Washington Post) (Doug Kapustin/For The Washington Post)
February 22

For the second time in less than a week, McNamara senior Alfred Bannister met McDonogh’s Cameron Harrell in a championship match at 145 pounds. And for the second time in less than a week, Harrell attempted a move appropriately dubbed the “flying squirrel” while trailing in the contest’s final moments.

Bannister narrowly dodged the flying squirrel last weekend to win his fourth consecutive Maryland Independent Schools state title. Saturday, he caught Harrell in mid-air and brought him to the mat for a definitive takedown.

With the 8-5 victory over Harrell, a former All-Met at Broadneck, Bannister won his second straight National Preps Tournament championship in Bethlehem, Pa. The Maryland signee ended his high school career with four MIS titles, two National Preps titles and a state-record 271 victories.

“It’s bittersweet,” Bannister said. “Sweet because I ended my high school career with a win, and a national title. That’s the good part. But you know, it’s still bad. No more of me and my family going to tournaments. Now it’s college.

“It’s just another step, but it’s a good step.”

No. 4 Georgetown Prep finished seventh in the team standings and crowned two individual champions. Freshman Eric Hong won his final match, 3-1, to capture the 120-pound title, and senior Michael Sprague squeaked out a 2-1 overtime victory to win at 138 pounds.

“We never had two National Prep champions, let alone two finalists, since I’ve been here,” Georgetown Prep Coach Mike Kubik said. “I’m pretty excited.”

Hong defeated top-seeded Charles Tucker of Blair Academy (N.J.) in the finals, recording an early takedown and riding him out for nearly two minutes. The freshman was nearly called for stalling but did just enough in the third period to hang on.

Sprague, who is also an accomplished diver at Georgetown Prep, won both his semifinal and final matches in a similarly tight fashion. Facing Good Counsel’s Matt Kelly in the semis, Sprague finished a takedown with two seconds left to win, 4-3. In the finals, he defeated Peter Tedesco of Belmont Hill School (Mass.) in overtime, quickly escaping to begin the extra period and then maintaining control the rest of the way.

“Mike ended up riding him out,” Kubik said. “If there were maybe two more seconds on the clock, he might have lost because he was in the crazy little scramble at the end, and the kid had his head. But Mike did just enough to come out on top.”

Good Counsel sophomore Kevin Budock (132 pounds) and St. Mary’s-Ryken senior Josh Llopez (170) finished second in their respective weight classes, while Archbishop Spalding had a pair of third-place finishers in Matt Pente (138) and Logan Breitenbach (160). St. Mary’s-Ryken junior Steven Simpson (120) also finished third.

No. 2 Good Counsel led all local teams by finishing fourth with 87.5 points.

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