McNamara senior Alfred Bannister is on the cusp of history.
With five more wins, the National Prep and two-time Beast of the East champion will reach 250 wins in his high school career, breaking the Maryland state record that has stood since 2007. He is expected to set the mark Monday afternoon during a tri-meet at McNamara.
Bannister, who has committed to wrestle at Maryland, is 40-1 this season and 188-3 dating back to the beginning of his sophomore year. All three of his losses have been by one point.
“The thing that makes it so impressive is just the long-term commitment of excellence. It’s unprecedented,” McNamara Coach Paul Wicks said. “He’s an incredible wrestler, and if he continues to work hard he has the ability to be a multiple national champion, and an Olympic champion.”
Bannister was in line to break the record Thursday before snow closed school and wiped out the week’s wrestling events. He is now on schedule to set the new mark on Monday afternoon, when McNamara will host Bishop Ireton and Paul VI Catholic in a tri-meet rescheduled from earlier this week. The athletics department has planned a ceremony to recognize the accomplishment in front of the home crowd.
Bannister, the Post’s top-ranked wrestler at 145 pounds, will break a record currently held by Michael Bressler of Progressive Christian, who got a head start by wrestling at the varsity level beginning in eighth grade. Bannister has already surpassed some of the top wrestlers in area history in wins, including his older brother, Andrew Bannister, two-time Wrestler of the Year Mike Rowe and Todd Beckerman, who is now the head coach at Brown.
“It means a lot just because of the great names that are on that list,” Bannister said. “You look at their accomplishments and what they went on to do. It’s a great honor to be mentioned in the same conversation as those guys, and to be the number one on top of that? It’s a blessing.”
With wrestling season quickly approaching last year, Lake Braddock Coach Scott Matheny pulled aside Dante and Darius Wiles.
He had at his disposal a pair of talented freshman twins, but a single starting spot to work with at 106 pounds.
Matheny suggested a wrestle-off, a common practice to finalize slots.
“They both kind of looked at each other, and Dante looked at Darius, and said, ‘Nope, he can have it,’” Matheny recalled. “That was the end of it.”
Dante, who weighed just 98 pounds at the time, wrestled mostly junior varsity bouts, while the slightly heftier Darius went on to win a district title and finish fifth in the Northern Region.
This year, the spotlight is bright enough for both brothers. The Wiles twins, now sophomores, are featured in The Post’s individual rankings this week.
Before matches, the brothers convene last-second walkthroughs, plotting takedowns and assuaging jitters.
“We like to talk to each other, because we get pretty nervous when we step on the mat,” said Dante, who has a 28-1 record at 106 pounds.
Darius, who has moved up to 113 for his second season, acknowledges that he occasionally peeks over toward his brother’s mat when the two are wrestling simultaneously.
“Seeing as they wrestle the exact same style, one of them can observe while the other one is wrestling,” Matheny said.
It makes for deadlocks when the two spar as practice partners.
“We’re pretty even,” said Darius, who claims to be the more defensive of the two stylistically. “It’s really hard to get better than my other half.”
Both have notched tournament wins this season, with Dante winning the finals of the Glenn Jones Charger Classic and Darius (27-2) sweeping the NOVA Classic. They attribute the success to a non-stop offseason circuit of wrestling camps.
But no matter how much success they’re enjoying, the twins endeavor to cut the sport out of dinner conversations.
“We don’t really talk about wrestling [outside of school],” Dante said. “We practice hard in the wrestling room and that’s about it.”
Rankings: Top 10 team and individual