Last year as a freshman, Oakland Mills' Jaron Smith won an impressive 30 matches and placed fifth at the state tournament.
But as he prepared to face Atholton senior Pat Mullens in the finals of the 26th annual Snowverlea Invitational tournament Saturday evening at Overlea High School, all Smith could think about was two of his losses from last winter.
"I wrestled (Mullens) twice last year and one of the times was actually at this tournament, he beat me 7-4, he got me in a couple of bad moves," Smith said. "The other time was at countys. It was 8-8 in overtime and then he got a takedown at the last second."
Mullens went on to win the county championship, while Smith placed fifth.
"I was thinking back really hard to that specific match," Smith said. "I was really anticipating this match."
And Smith made the most of his opportunity, defeating Mullens, 6-2. Mullens briefly tied the match, 2-2, with a reversal early in the second period, but Smith quickly hit a reversal of his own to reclaim the lead. He then scored another reversal in the third period to expand his margin of victory.
"There is no definite key (to beating him) because he's a really great wrestler. I couldn't do any of my moves on top, that's where I'm really strong," Smith said. "I couldn't do much because we actually trained together for states last year ... we kind of have the same technique, which is why I kind of knew what he was going to do, but the same could be said for him, too."
Smith, who wears knee-high orange and black striped socks while he wrestles, is especially dangerous with his legs.
"My coach (Brad Howell) says it's better for me because I have long legs. That's what I like doing, it actually helps me keep myself more stable because I'm not as balanced as I could be, so that helps me stay more in control," he said.
Smith was joined by seniors Zach Hensley (120) and Dominick Clarke (182) in Oakland Mills' circle of champions, but it wasn't enough to give the Scorpions the team title.
Oakland Mills — which won three straight Snowverlea championships from 2009-2011 — finished with 182 points, just one point behind tournament champion Hereford (183). Atholton placed ninth (91.5).
The Bulls collected only one championship — from heavyweight Mike Swiger — but had seven wrestlers place in the top four of the 25-team tournament.
Oakland Mills, meanwhile, had eight top-four wrestlers.
Hensley's championship win was especially important to keeping the Scorpions in the race, because it came against Hereford's Anthony Genco. Hensley scored an important first period takedown, and then escaped early in the second period to go up 3-0. But in the third period, Genco scored a takedown with just over 30 seconds left. Genco released Hensley to try to force overtime with another takedown, but Hensley withstood a deep takedown attempt by Genco to hold on for the win.
"Keeping on the head, and then my low post, I had to make sure that he couldn't get any more of those low shots," said Hensley, who lost to Perry Hall's Zeke Salvo in the finals of the tournament last year. "He wrestled really good, I just wrestled a little better."
Hensley has had to adjust this season to not having a state champion as a practice partner. Tony Farace, who won three state titles for Oakland Mills from 2009 to 2011, graduated after last season.
"It was cool at the beginning but now it's really stressful because I have a lot of people looking at me," Hensley said. "I really miss Tony, I miss having him as my partner ... during winter break he came down and practiced with us, which was really fun. He refreshed me on my skills that I lost a little technique of over the summer."
Clarke represented the Scorpions' powerful upperweights by bringing home the 182-pound title. But it took an overtime takedown against Fallston's Austin Rutkowski to clinch the championship.
"I've never been to overtime this season for some reason. Last year I went to overtime a lot, but I never won. (This season) I usually get the win in the third period somehow," Clarke said. "I just had to take more risks, and so I did."
Clarke recently dropped down to 182 pounds after wrestling most of the season at 195.
"I was bumping up a lot for our team's sake. (182) is my actual weight. I usually bump up to 195, sometimes take on a 220 match, depending on what the team needs," he said. "I feel like I need to start peaking. I've been wrestling great but I don't think I'm at that top level yet where I could really burst through countys, regions and states like I want to, so its going to take a lot of work."
Along with Smith, Dylan Juskus (170, fourth), Robby Happy (195, fourth), and heavyweight Roy Kadje (third), Clarke gives Oakland Mills one of the best groups of upperweights in the area.
"Our upperweights usually get it done. I think it has a lot to do with how we drill in practice ... we just learn how to face different types of defenses and offenses," he said.
Kadje won a Snowverlea Invitational championship last year, but slipped in the semifinals of this year's tournament and was pinned by Dundalk's Wayne Maddox. Kadje rebounded to defeat Kenwood's Stephan Burden in overtime for third place.
Oakland Mills' Bradley Montecino (145) also placed third, battling back from a 5-0 first period deficit to defeat Digital Harbor's Eli Winston, 8-5.
The tournament was aptly named this year, because Friday's opening round was snowed out. As a result, all rounds were completed on Saturday, with the action going until 10 p.m.
Final team standings
1. Hereford, 183
2. Oakland Mills, 182
3. Fallston, 164
4. Milford Mill, 131.5
5. Dulaney, 130.5
6. Aberdeen, 125
7. Boys' Latin, 122
8. Western Tech, 106
9. Atholton, 91.5
10. Dundalk, 85
11. Mervo, 66
12. Digital Harbor, 61.5
13. Kenwood, 59
14. Mt. Carmel, 52
15. Chesapeake, 51
16. Sparrows Point, 51
17. Parkville, 41
18. Overlea, 37
19. Woodlawn, 32
20. Patterson, 27
21. Southwestern, 24
22. National Academy Foundation, 19
23. Lansdowne, 14
24. Patapsco, 7
25. Edmondson, 6
1. Nick Malinowski, Boys' Latin
2. Dominic Percell, Kenwood
3. Colin McDonald, Fallston
4. Javier Hernandez, Milford Mill
5. Marcos Colon-Pappaterr, Aberdeen
6. Dakota Thompson, Oakland Mills
1. Eric Baranoski, Fallston
2. Chris Petrovia, Sparrows Point
3. Jessie Beall, Dulaney
4. Tyler Zimmerman, Mt. Carmel
5. Dylan Morris, Aberdeen
6. Kahlan Lee-Lermer, Boys' Latin
1. Zach Hensley, Oakland Mills
2. Anthony Genco, Hereford
3. Tony Arrington, MERVO
4. Dylan Ruiz, Dulaney
5. Hunter Cotsoradis, Boys' Latin
6. Joe Medicus, Fallston
1. Travis Hubler, Aberdeen
2. Evan Layrea, Milford Mill
3. Keon Wilds, Woodlawn
4. Josh Pickens, Atholton
5. Andrew Lopez, Hereford
6. Nathan Malinowski, Boys' Latin
1. Tejon Anthony, Western Tech
2. Alfred Martinez, Dundalk
3. Daniel Velez, Aberdeen
4. Matt Claxton, Oakland Mills
5. Rahiem Sewell, Patterson
6. Dan Matthews, Dulaney
1. Ibrahim Sidibe, Digital Harbor
2. Chris Banko, Aberdeen
3. Patrick Hoffman, Dulaney
4. Alex Kubala, Hereford
5. Montrease Tinson, Milford Mill
6. Will Shipley, Fallston
1. Jacob Asher, Dulaney
2. Grant Taylor, Mt. Carmel
3. Bradley Montacino, Oakland Mills
4. Eli Winston, Digital Harbor
5. Anthony Wyler, Boys' Latin
6. Philip Frazier, Atholton
1. C J Austin, Fallston
2. Sean Hoffman, Dulaney
3. Tony Simuel, Western Tech
4. Zach Smith, Atholton
5. Dylan Gray, Hereford
6. Nerio Bunn, Oakland Mills
1. Jaron Smith, Oakland Mills
2. Pat Mullens, Atholton
3. Nyonbou Farley --SAT, Kenwood
4. Austin Harrison, Western Tech
5. Stanley Ezem, National Academy Foundation
6. Earl Shipley, Overlea
1. Evan Dohler, Boys' Latin
2. Billy Hess, Hereford
3. Renard Vann, Parkville
4. Dylan Juskus, Oakland Mills
5. Kingsley Benard, Milford Mill
6. Miles Dunton, Woodlawn
1. Dominick Clarke, Oakland Mills
2. Austin Rutkowski, Fallston
3. Nathaneil Dunchie, Milford Mill
4. Joe Miller, Hereford
5. Jerome Cosby --SAT, Mt. Carmel
6. Brian Rodriquez, Atholton
1. Ridge Myers, Fallston
2. Payton Beechum, Western Tech
3. Brock Turnbaugh, Hereford
4. Robby Happy, Oakland Mills
5. Devin Fehsenfeld, Milford Mill
6. Kyle Byrd, Dundalk
1. Jordan Gale, Chesapeake
2. Bailey Hoesch, Overlea
3. Steven Gbale, Milford Mill
4. Patrick Anderson, Hereford
5. Rodney Jones, Dundalk
6. Necho Freeman, Western Tech
1. Mike Swiger, Hereford
2. Wayne Maddox, Dundalk
3. Roy Kadje, Oakland Mills
4. Stephan Burden, Kenwood
5. K. Lovitte, Southwestern
6. Delonte Jennifer, MERVO