Gonzaga finished fourth in the field of 10 at the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference wrestling championships earlier this month, the program’s best result in eight years.
Coach Milton Yates said the Eagles’ results at the WCAC meet, which St. John’s won to capture its third straight conference title, is a testament to Gonzaga’s growth as a team over the course of the season. The Eagles suffered a number of key injuries, forcing them to rely on younger depth wrestlers to fill gaps in the lineup.
“I’ve been telling the kids all along we’re contenders, but they didn’t start to believe until our starters and our stars started getting injured and guys had to step up," Yates said. “To finish fourth in the conference with a trick bag of athletes is pretty good for us.”
Now Gonzaga is starting to get healthy at the right time, with the D.C. championships looming Saturday at the school’s Carmody Center and the program looking for a repeat title in that event. The Eagles received a boost with the return of 152-pound junior Billy Turner, who won an individual title at the WCAC meet after sitting out most of December and January with a concussion.
“[For him] to sit out that entire time, stay in tune and win the conference championship after two weeks of practice, [you] say, ‘Wow, what if you had the entire time to prepare for these moments,'" Yates said.
Here are this week’s Top 10 rankings, with teams' dual meet records through Tuesday.
1. Damascus (18-0) Last ranked: 1
The Swarmin’ Hornets captured their seventh consecutive state title at the Maryland 2A dual meet championships Saturday.
2. Battlefield (8-2) LR: 4
The Bobcats claimed their eighth consecutive district-level championship with its Cedar Run title.
3. Robinson (9-1) LR: 2
The Rams captured the team title at the Patriot District championships with a score of 257.5 and nine individual champions.
4. Springbrook (17-1) LR: 7
The Blue Devils captured their first state title at the Maryland 4A dual meet championships.
5. Glenelg (17-1) LR: 3
The Gladiators fell to Damascus, 45-16, in the Maryland 2A dual meet state final.
6. St. John’s (20-3) LR: 6
In addition to their team win, the Cadets had six individual champions at the WCAC championships.
7. Spalding (33-2) LR: 5
The Cavaliers finished fourth at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament and crowned one individual champion.
8. Landon (18-5) LR: 8
The Bears were narrowly edged by Bullis at the Interstate Athletic Conference championships this past weekend, taking second place with a score of 173.
9. St. Mary’s Ryken (19-5) LR: 9
The Knights had 13 place winners at the WCAC Championships, including freshman 120-pound champion Evan Eldridge.
10. Leonardtown (27-2) LR: 10
The Raiders fell in the Maryland 4A East region dual meet final against South River.
On the bubble: Woodbridge, Churchill, Gonzaga