BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. -- On the Friday of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, No. 1 Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) made the trip to face No. 2 Blair Academy (N.J.). In the annual showdown of National Prep powers, the host Buccaneers won eight of 14 bouts to upend the nation's top team 31-24.
The Blue Knights had ascended to the top position of the Fab 50 national team rankings after out-pointing Blair Academy at the Walsh Ironman five weeks ago. Wyoming Seminary was without the services of national No. 1 Nic Bouzakis (126) on Friday night, while national-caliber heavyweight wrestler Jacob Kaminski has yet wrestle this season. Absent for Blair Academy was No. 7 Domonic Mata (170), who has not competed since the Beast of the East for the Buccaneers.
The dual meet started at the traditional opening weight class, 106 pounds. It was a head-on battle of nationally ranked wrestlers, the first of five such matches on the evening. No. 2 Marc-Anthony McGowan secured an 8-5 win over No. 11 Brandon Cannon to give Blair Academy the opening 3-0 lead in the dual meet. However, by night's end, Wyoming Seminary won three of the five matches where ranked wrestlers faced one another. The first of four lead changes came in the next match, as No. 20 Brennen Cernus pinned Mason Stefanelli in 5:18, which gave the Blue Knights a 6-3 lead. The third match of the night yielded the second lead change, Blair Academy's Ryan Miller -- ranked No. 12 nationally -- secured the 11-3 major decision over Gregor McNeil to push the Buccaneers to a 7-6 lead in the dual meet.
Consecutive bonus points for nationally ranked Blair Academy wrestlers extended the lead to 17-6 through five bouts: No. 4 Trevor Mastrogiovanni pinned Mark Botello in 2:53 at 126 pounds, as Bouzakis was not available, while No. 1 Shayne van Ness secured the 19-5 major decision over No. 11 Drew Munch at 132. The next turn in the dual meet saw Wyoming Seminary win four consecutive matches, starting with a pin from No. 1 Beau Bartlett in 2:33 at 138 against Louis Colaiocco as the Buccaneers would bump starters to cover the next four weight classes in the absence of Mata. No. 1 Lachlan McNeil upended No. 14 (at 138) Lucas Chittum 6-3 at 145, two-time National Prep champion Connor Kievman beat freshman Lorenzo Norman 8-4 at 152, and finally No. 14 Gabe Arnold (only a freshman) knocked off No. 3 (at 152) Travis Mastrogiovanni 6-2 in the tiebreaker at 160.
With five matches left in the dual meet, the No. 1 team in the country had a 21-17 lead, with Blair Academy needing to turn it around. It happened in a battle of nationally elite sophomores as Cadet National freestyle champion Thomas Stewart knocked off Andrew Donahue 5-4. The second of three consecutive wins gave the Buccaneers a lead that would stand for the rest of the evening, as No. 8 Rylan Rogers upended Cole Rees 3-0 at 182 pounds; then it was No. 9 Peyton Craft earning a 16-1 technical fall over Wolfgang Frable at 195 pounds to give Blair Academy a 28-21 lead with two matches remaining.
In the penultimate match, Wyoming Seminary gave themselves a chance to win the dual meet, as No. 10 Kolby Franklin beat No. 12 Noah Pettigrew for the second time on the season, 6-4 in a showdown of elite sophomores. It came down to a winner-take-most match; Eli Anthony upended Nate Miller 5-0 to push the final score to 31-24 for No. 2 Blair Academy.