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Wrestling: DeMatha back on top

A week before the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament, the DeMatha wrestlers placed an enlarged copy of a story from the 2009 tournament on poster board in their locker room.

The headline that read “O’Connell Halts Stags’ Title Run” was one final reminder of the trophy missing from the DeMatha halls after O’Connell ended the Stags’ string of 23-consecutive WCAC titles.

“Ever since last year we’ve been very hungry to get the title back,” junior 135-pounder Kevin Lashley said. The trophy case has been a little empty, missing the one thing that we own.”

On Monday at McNamara, the Stags reclaimed their place atop the WCAC by accumulating 234.5 team points in a performance that left no doubt of their resolve to take home the crown for the 24th time in 29 years.

Eleven Stags placed in the top three of their weight class, while seven took home titles including Lashley (135), Tito Onyekweli (112), Pat Prada (125), Tobe Onyekweli (130), Josh Couto (140), Shane Cockerille (171) and Dylan Devine (275).

For Prada, who is ranked No. 13 in the nation by InterMat and already has a laundry list of well-documented wrestling accomplishments, the tournament held his final shot at the elusive WCAC title. After finishing second as a sophomore and junior, Prada was anxious to add a league title to his resume.

By pinning Paul VI’s Dan Carlton 4 minutes and 31 seconds into the 125-pound championship, he succeeded.

“A WCAC title means a lot to me,” said Prada, who now boasts a 55-2 record. “I had pneumonia last year and knee problems the year before. I’m glad I had this opportunity.”

Also among those capturing their first WCAC crowns for the Stags was freshman 171-pounder Shane Cockerille, who has quickly made a name for himself this season.

After a tentative first period against Paul VI’s Chuck Carlton, who won the pair’s previous meeting this season, 4-3, Cockerille worked to a 2-2 tie at the end of the second. But it wasn’t until the beginning of the third when he earned a reversal in the first four seconds of the frame that Cockerille took the lead in the match.

“After the first time we wrestled, I knew I could beat him but I came out flat,” said Cockerille, who was the first Stag to win a WCAC title as a freshman since Tobe Onyekweli did in 2007. “I wanted to step it up this time, I knew I had to attack and couldn’t just go for single leg shots. This one feels good, hopefully I can win here three more times.”

DeMatha Coach Dick Messier has said Cockerille is one of the most pleasant surprises for the Stags this season. It can be difficult for freshman to step into a starting spot in the upper weights and face opponents who typically have more experience on the mat. But although Cockerille (42-10) has lost to notable opponents this year like North County’s Pat Downey, Spalding’s K.K. Smith, Mount St. Joseph’s Bobby Bowman, and nationally ranked Kenny Courts from Central Dauphin (Pa.) he has been competitive in every match.

As for Cockerille, who also plays football, he likes the extra challenge of competing in an upper weight class at a young age and relishes the chance to show older wrestlers what he can do.

“A lot of times this year guys have seemed to think they can beat me pretty bad just because they see I’m a freshman,” Cockerille said. “They come out light and realize what I can do and then they start trying. Sometimes I catch them by surprise, but I want everyone to know what I can do.”

Results from the WCAC finals:
103: Aaron Jackson (MCN) inj. Default Elliott Mondragon (BI)
112: Tito Onyekweli (DEM) maj. dec. 20-10 Zak Thompson (ZAG)
119: Paul O’Neill (ZAG) dec. 8-2 Shane Arechiga (GC)
125: Pat Prada (DEM) fall 4:31 Dan Carlton (PVI)
130: Tobe Onyekweli (DEM) tech. fall 22-6 Dale Mullane (DJO)
135: Kevin Lashley (DEM) fall 1:50 Jack Lawrence (ZAG)
140: Josh Couto (DEM) dec. 6-3 Joe Dassing (GC)
145: Ben Pfotenhauer (PVI) dec. 3-2 Joe Vitale (BI)
152: Daien Ashley (PVI) dec. 4-3 Josh Crockett (MCN)
160: Zach Griffitt (RYK) fall 0:57 Sean-Patrick Meehan (DEM)
171: Shane Cockerille (DEM) dec. 6-5 Chuck Carlton (PVI)
189: Andrew Lutterloh (BI) fall 5:59 Ray Geier (PVI)
215: Sammy Ojjeh (PVI) overtime 3-1 Kahri Brown (MCN)
275: Dylan Devine (DEM) fall 2:52 David Greene (ZAG)

Team scores:
1. DeMatha, 234.5
2. Paul VI, 158.0
3. Gonzaga, 141.5
4. Bishop Ireton, 120.5
5. Good Counsel, 101.0
6. McNamara, 67.0
7. O’Connell, 60.0
8. St. Mary’s Ryken, 57.0
9. St. John’s (DC) 32.0

By Katie Carrera  |  February 16, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Bishop Ireton , Bishop McNamara , DeMatha , Gonzaga , Good Counsel , O'Connell , St. John's , St. Mary's Ryken , WCAC , Wrestling  
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