Bass’s inability to win on the biggest stage crossed state lines and followed him from some 1,300 miles from Allen, Tex., where he was a state runner-up as a sophomore. In all, Bass took second three times in states — including twice for Robinson. He emphatically ended that drought Saturday and helped propel the Rams to their second straight state championship in front of their home crowd in Fairfax.
“Every year, I’ve overlooked the state tournament, and this year I had the focus and I just went out and won it,” Bass said. “Finally.”
The senior was one of four Rams who won an individual title, joining brothers Zak and Cole Depasquale and Jake Pinkston. After back-to-back wins by Bass (152) and Zak Depasquale (160), it became clear Robinson would fend off Colonial Forge (132.5) for its second consecutive team championship with a score of 152.5. Lake Braddock (77) was third.
“Warming up, I saw so many people from Robinson come out,” Zak Depasquale said. “It means so much, and I couldn’t let them down. A home crowd means I get to see all my friends and family tonight and celebrate our hard work.”
Lake Braddock’s Darius Wiles began his finals with a front-row seat to his brother Dante’s last-second, heartbreaking 15-14 loss in the 106-pound 6A bout. Moments later, he found himself locked in a tight 113-pound match with Cox’s Landon Loalbo.
“It was tough moment,” Wiles said. “My mind wasn’t right. I had to fight it, fight my mind, tell myself to move on and keep my mind on the match.”
He moved on by getting a late escape of his own. With eight seconds left in a 1-1 match, Wiles struggled to his feet and broke free of a hand lock with a pirouette. He rode out the last few seconds before sprinting to the middle of the mat and giving the crowd a leaping fist pump.
“It was all mental,” he said. “I knew there wasn’t much time, so I had to fight it, keep my mind going. I had to get up. Just do it. The Nike slogan.”
Westfield’s Justin Yorkdale notched a dominant 11-2 major decision over Washington-Lee’s Narankhuu Ganbaatar at 126 pounds. Yorkdale absorbed an early takedown, which he claimed woke him up a bit.
“I just thought, ‘Okay, I need to start wrestling now,” Yorkdale said. “This is my match. I can do this. It calmed me down and got my blood flowing.”
Individual 5A champions included Edison’s Brock Jacobson, who won 7-2 at 138 pounds, and Potomac Falls’s Omar Nezam, who avenged last week’s loss to Freedom-South Riding’s Bradley Nelson with a 3-2 win at 160. Matoaca won the 5A team title.
For Robinson and all the individual champions, the tournament marked the culmination of intense workouts and the rigors of making weight. And on the biggest stage, the pageantry loomed large. A NASA astronaut, set to take flight in the Expedition 44/45 missions in 2015, crowned the medalists.
“It’s just a dream come true,” Zak Depasquale said. “I’ve been working my entire life for this moment.”
Bannister leaves his mark
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.
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.
No. 2 Good Counsel placed fourth to lead all local teams.
Tom Schad contributed to this report.