Landon led by 24 points after the consolation finals and needed one of its two championship-round wrestlers to win to keep Interstate Athletic Conference co-champion Bullis at bay. Rob Sands emerged the 112-pound champion and the Bears won the 43rd annual St. Albans Invitational with 188 points last night before 500 at Martins Gymnasium.
Bullis took second in the 34-team tournament with 174.
St. Albans's tournament is the last stop on the road to the prep nationals at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Six of the last eight St. Albans tournament champion teams have gone on to win the nationals.
Defending St. Albans champion DeMatha finshed third at 163.
The championship pairings read like a Who's Who of area champions: Mynor Herrera, the top Maryland wrestler at 103 pounds; Mike Cothran (130), defending Virginia state champion; Khalil Abdul-Malik (140), three-time All-Met wrestler.
Landon and Bullis were head to head in team scoring until the semifinals of the consolations, when Landon started pulling away, 172 to 158. Bullis had to record a fall in each of its matches to tie the Bears.
"We were pretty confident going into the finals," said Landon Coach Doug Lagarde. "I think the more balanced team won. And Bobby's win let all us breathe easier."
Sands (112) got the Bears' only championship by edging out Bishop O'Connell's Paul Loconti, 3-2, but it was an important victory.
Loconti (34-5) scored a two-point takedown 21 seconds into the match, but Sands (26-4) came back 19 seconds later tying the score.
Loconti's mat tactics backfired when he gave away a one-point escape to Sands that turned out to be the clincher. Gonzaga's Melvin Yates (145) downed Landon's Todd Boehly 4-2 and denied Landon any more team points.
At the end of the 140-pound match, the crowd stood on its feet and applauded both wrestlers for what proved to be the most exciting and best display of wrestling that night.
St. Stephen's Abdul-Malik (32-0) pulled off a 12-11 cliffhanger over Bullis's Tom Bristow. Both wrestlers traded takedowns early in the first period; Abdul-Malik with a minute left and Bristow at the 1:25 mark.
Abdul-Malik gave up two one-point escapes in order to shoot on Bristow.
Trailing by 9-6 in the closing minutes of the last period, Malik scored an escape by spinning on his head in break dancer fashion to score a two-point reversal for a 9-8 score.
Abdul-Malik whittled Bristow's lead down to 10-10 before giving up a one-point escape. Abdul-Malik threw Bristow down at the mat's edge, scoring a two-point takedown with 11 seconds left to win the match.
Abdul-Malik's victory earned him tournament MVP honors.
Riverdale Baptist's Dwight Cooke (130) recorded one of the three finalist falls in a long and grueling match against Virginia State Champ Cothran.
Cooke's pin with 1:29 left improved his record to 32-6 and handed Cothran (22-1) his first defeat.
Prince George's Championships: Douglass senior Troy Charney received the Joseph Murphy Award at the county championships at Douglass. The award goes to the senior who has scored the most career points at the championships.
Charney decisioned Chris Kluckhuhn of Laurel, 5-2, to gain his second straight title at 145 pounds. He scored 25 points at this year's meet to bring his career total to 72.
Suitland, which has three county champions, won the title with 203 points. Douglass was second with 138.