St. Mary’s Ryken wrestling claims first-ever WCAC championship
Published by The Enterprise on February 4, 2020
By JOHN NISWANDER
History was made Saturday at St. Mary’s Ryken High School as the Knights wrestling team claimed the program’s first-ever Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament team championship.
“This was the first time in history that we’ve won this, so this is great,” St. Mary’s Ryken head coach Philip Brown said. “We couldn’t have done it without the support here of the school being phenomenal from the administration to the athletic department. We couldn’t have done it without them. It was a big team effort from everyone at the school.”
Inside the Donnie Williams Center, in its first year of existence, the Knights were able to host the event with all 10 WCAC schools competing in the one-day tournament on Saturday.
“This was huge [to be able to host the WCAC tournament here],” Brown said. “We had a great turnout and everyone loved the facility. It was a privilege to host it here.”
St. Mary’s Ryken, which finished the regular season at 19-2 overall and 8-0 in WCAC meets, claimed first place with 220.5 points. St. John’s of Washington, D.C., last year’s tournament champions, finished second this year with 198 points.
“Today went great. It was a great positive experience,” Brown said. “This was one of our goals that we set out to achieve at the beginning of the year. The guys pulled through and all of them wrestled hard.”
The Knights had nine wrestlers competing in the 14 championship matches, and five prevailed to place first.
“Today went well,” St. Mary’s Ryken senior captain Blake Jury said. “We told everyone at the beginning that this was going to be a team effort and we needed everyone to show out. We had nine kids in finals, and five ended up winning. That speaks for itself. We all showed up to wrestle. A few of our kids had matches they probably should have won, but regardless we wrestled well as a team.”
Jury, freshman Mason Buckler, junior Chris Albo, junior Tyriel Jefferson and sophomore Kaylen Perez all won championships in their respective brackets.
To start the championship matches, the hosts claimed the first three matches with Buckler (106 pounds), Albo (113) and Jefferson (120) earning titles.
Buckler won his title with an 11-2 decision over Keegan McMahon of Paul VI of Virginia. Albo pinned Ethan Vaughn of McNamara of Prince George’s County late in the second period. Jefferson won his title with an early second-period pin over Luke Kowalski of St. John’s.
At 132, Jury claimed his 181st career win for his high school career with a third-period pin of Bishop Ireton’s Finnian Sofield to claim the championship.
“I wrestled [Sofield] not too long ago and I beat him before, so I kind of already knew how he was going to wrestle in the match,” Jury said. “I kept my position well and rode hard on top, turned him and then that was that.”
St. Mary’s Ryken claimed its fifth individual championship at 220 when Perez was able to pin Ryan Luetjen of Gonzaga of Washington, D.C. with 22 seconds left in the third period.
Knights senior Rodney Jefferson (138), sophomore Ezekiel Gayle (170), junior Daniel Ollum (182) and junior Will Johnson (195) each earned second-place finishes and sophomore Jordan Scarbrough (152) claimed a fourth-place finish.
The Knights are slated to compete in the Melee on the Metro at Wilson High School in Washington, D.C. on Friday and Saturday.
“We have two tournaments left and then National Preps, which is the top six placers at states. Hopefully we can stay healthy,” Jury said. “Our 195 went down there kind of at the end of his last match. We need everyone healthy moving forward and we are just going to get ready for what’s left.”