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St. John’s wrestling coaches reach milestone

January 21, 2019

Head coach Alan Paul and assistant coach Danny Henderson have been a fixture at St. John’s, guiding the wrestling team in their 13th season together. The duo gradually built the Mavericks into a conference and state powerhouse that captured its fifth Southwest Preparatory Conference championship in six years last winter.

Paul and Henderson can add another milestone to their shared credentials, achieving their 200th dual victory Jan. 10 while hosting the inaugural Houston Private School Duals Championship. Win No. 200 came against rival Kinkaid 66-17, while the Mavericks also defeated Bay Area Christian 78-6, Episcopal 60-12 and St. Thomas 48-30 for an undefeated showing.

St. John’s had an opportunity to add to its total Jan. 19 at home during the Texas State Prep Dual Wrestling Championship.

“It’s unique that a pair of coaches has won 200 duals together,” Paul said. “Yet it’s more about our program and the consistency of coaching we have built and sustained over time. It’s Danny and I and all of the coaches and wrestlers working together. Every year we get better.”

Paul wrestled in high school and Henderson officiated collegiate wrestling, both using their experience in the sport to help St. John’s achieve its spot as the SPC’s top program, as well as the Mavericks’ first Prep State title in 2017 and more than 50 all-state and all-SPC wrestlers through the years.

“Alan and I became friends through coaching together,” Henderson said. “He is such an inspiration. Our motto is ‘work made fun gets done.’”

The Mavericks were 14-3 in dual competition this season entering the Texas State Prep meet. Their only defeats were to UIL schools Klein and Cypress Ranch. They defeated A&M Consolidated and Cypress Lakes at the Big Horn Duals, finished second at the Doc Hess Classic behind Cinco Ranch and took fourth at the Big 12 Invitational behind Louisiana power Brother Martin, defending Region III-6A champion Katy and the Cougars. They also finished first at the TCA Invitational.

St. John’s returns five SPC champions from last winter in Ken Matsunaga (106-pound class), Michael Daichman (120), Sebastian Jimenez (126), Thomas Grannen (132) and Wesley Gow (220). Harrison Fernelius and Roman Lewis could be top contenders in their brackets after both finished in the top three at the Prep Slam in Atlanta.

Episcopal rising in national rankings

The Episcopal boys soccer team carried three consecutive SPC titles into this season. The Knights are likely the favorite for another, rising to No. 3 in the nation last week in the Top Drawer Soccer FAB 50.

Episcopal defeated previous national No. 1 San Antonio Central Catholic, 1-0, Jan. 11 at EHS to improve to 8-0-0. The win also moved the Knights from No. 6 in the state to No. 2 behind Flower Mound.

They have only allowed one goal, Dec. 29 in a 2-1 win at The Woodlands. They defeated Concordia Lutheran, British School of Houston, Emery/Weiner, Yes College Prep and Awty International by a combined 31-0 before opening SPC play with 1-0 win against John Cooper.

The Knights continued conference play Jan. 18-19 with a trip to Austin, taking on St. Andrew’s and St. Stephen’s.

Seeking another SPC sweep

The Houston area pulled off an impressive feat during the 2018 SPC championship season, winning all seven conference tournaments on home turf. This year’s SPC championships are set for Feb. 14-16 in Fort Worth and Keller.

Local defending champions include Kinkaid in girls basketball and girls swimming and Houston Christian boys basketball. St. John’s won both swimming championships, matching Kinkaid for the girls crown.

Houston Christian and Episcopal both cracked the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches top 10 among 6A private schools. The Mustangs were No. 6 with a 21-7 record in the Jan. 14 rankings, one spot above fellow SPC finalist Episcopal (17-6). HCHS opened SPC play with a 53-37 win against St. John’s, while the Knights defeated St. Andrew’s 61-29.

Kinkaid took a No. 4 ranking and a 16-4 record into the week. The Falcons were also 1-0 in SPC, off to a strong start along with 2-0 Episcopal and 1-0 Houston Christian.

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