River Hill improved to 9-0 in the county standings Tuesday night, defeating Howard, 73-0, and Reservoir, 49-18. Reservoir also defeated Howard, 61-9.
With the wins, the Hawks are only two matches away — home against Wilde Lake on Jan. 26 and at Long Reach on Jan. 31— from celebrating their first county dual meet title since 2009.
But in terms of its quest for a top seed in the 3A/4A East regional duals tournament, Tuesday night could have been considered a setback for River Hill, which is battling Stephen Decatur for home advantage.
Both teams are still undefeated (regular season dual meet tournaments do not factor into regional seeding), and if they finish that way, point differential against a common opponent would be used as the first tiebreaker.
Stephen Decatur defeated Reservoir by 37 points (52-15) on Jan. 7, and on Tuesday night, River Hill beat the Gators by 31, which could mean "three hours down to the beach," as River Hill coach Brandon Lauer put it, "and we're not sight-seeing."
Although River Hill was kicking itself for the missed opportunity, Reservoir is certainly not a pushover. The Gators, state dual meet and tournament champions in 2010, are now 7-3 on the season (13-7 overall) and actually held an 18-13 lead after six bouts on Tuesday.
"We knew that they graduated a lot, but obviously we knew that they were a very good program and they weren't just going to hand it over to us," said River Hill 182-pounder Omar Messallam. "We knew it was going to be tough."
The Hawks got off to a quick start when Jason Johnson (285, forfeit), Michael Beck (106, decision) and Taariq Mohammed (113, major) built a 13-0 lead. But defending regional champion Mason Kilcarr (120) nearly halved it with his second period pin, and then Hans Wicklein (126) and Paul Quattrone (132) chipped away further with hardfought decisions.
At 138, Reservoir's Sam Rowell defeated River Hill's Brian Kirby, 6-2, in a showdown between two of the county's best freshmen to give the Gators the lead, 15-13, and then sophomore Wesley Beattie extended it with a 12-6 win at 145.
Donovan Delore stopped the Reservoir win parade with a pin at 152 that gave the Hawks the lead back, and worse yet for the Gators, River Hill still had its best wrestlers coming up, the upperweights.
Between 160 and 195, Jack Noonan, Cory Daniel, Messallam and Logan Kirby recorded five straight pins, and at 220 Jacob Benedict had his raised in forfeit to account for the final points in the 49-18 victory.
"We're just trying to stay consistent with our wins, maintain consistency with what we do in the room and work hard everyday," Messallam said. "I had faith in the whole team executing all of the moves that we normally do."
The comeback still wasn't enough to give the Hawks the edge in the playoff seeding race, and the score might have been even closer if Reservoir hadn't been missing two of its starters: junior Brian Beach (152) and sophomore Michael Sullivan (195).
Beach should be back soon, but Sullivan — who is on crutches while recovering from a torn meniscus — is hoping to return for the county tournament Feb. 17 and 18, where he is expected to have the second seed behind Logan Kirby.
River Hill 73, Howard 0
220: Jacob Benedict (RH) wbf. [6-0]
285: Jason Johnson (RH) pin Michael Frazier (Ho), 3:05. [12-0]
106: Michael Beck (RH) pin Nicholas Williams (Ho), 3:05. [18-0]
113: Taariq Mohammed (RH) wbf. [24-0]
120: Michael Bishoff (RH) wbf. [30-0]
126: Lee Carter (RH) wbf. [36-0]
132: Patrick Linden (RH) dec. Robert Bruffey (Ho), 7-0. [39-0]
138: Brian Kirby (RH) tf. Chris Song (Ho), 0:00/16-1. [44-0]
145: Casey Guthier (RH) tf. Colin Hawes (Ho), 0:00/15-0. [49-0]
152: Donovan Delore (RH) dec. Ryan Stover (Ho), 7-0. [52-0]
160: Jack Noonan (RH) dec. Drew Williams (Ho), 6-4. [55-0]
170: Cory Daniel (RH) pin Christopher Loiselle (Ho), 1:41. [61-0]
182: Omar Messallam (RH) pin Jared Rodriguez (Ho), 1:06. [67-0]
195: Logan Kirby (RH) wbf. [73-0]
River Hill 49, Reservoir 18
285: Jason Johnson (RH) wbf. [6-0]
106: Michael Beck (RH) dec. Troy Kilcarr (Re), 9-2. [9-0]
113: Taariq Mohammed (RH) maj. Joe Quattrone (Re), 14-2. [13-0]
120: Mason Kilcarr (Re) pin Michael Bishoff (RH), 3:00. [13-6]
126: Hans Wicklein (Re) dec. Lee Carter (RH), 4-3. [13-9]
132: Paul Quattrone (Re) dec. Patrick Linden (RH), 8-2. [13-12]
138: Sam Rowell (Re) dec. Brian Kirby (RH), 6-2. [13-15]
145: Wesley Beattie (Re) dec. Casey Guthier (RH), 12-6. [13-18]
152: Donovan Delore (RH) pin Brian Lamm (Re), 5:27. [19-18]
160: Jack Noonan (RH) pin Brendan Herberger (Re), 1:56. [25-18]
170: Cory Daniel (RH) pin Brian Glueck (Re), 4:25. [31-18]
182: Omar Messallam (RH) pin Connor Davis (Re), 1:42. [37-18]
195: Logan Kirby (RH) pin Matias Arrazola (Re), 3:04. [43-18]
220: Jacob Benedict (RH) wbf. [49-18]
Reservoir 61, Howard 9
106: Troy Kilcarr (Re) pin Nicholas Williams (Ho), 1:06. [6-0]
113: Joe Quattrone (Re) wbf. [12-0]
120: Mason Kilcarr (Re) wbf. [18-0]
126: Hans Wicklein (Re) wbf. [24-0]
132: Paul Quattrone (Re) dec. Robert Bruffey (Ho), 8-4. [27-0]
138: Sam Rowell (Re) pin Chris Song (Ho), 1:44. [33-0]
145: Wesley Beattie (Re) dec. Collin Hawes (Ho), 4-2. [36-0]
152: Ryan Stover (Ho) dec. Brian Lamm (Re), 12-5. [36-3]
160: Brendan Herberger (Re) dec. Drew Williams (Ho), 4-3. [39-3]
170: Brian Glueck (Re) pin NA (Ho). [45-3]
182: Connor Davis (Re) maj. Jared Rodriguez (Ho), 15-4. [49-3]
195: Matias Arrazola (Re) wbf. [55-3]
220: Pedro Iriarte (Re) wbf. [61-3]
285: Michael Frazier (Ho) wbf. [61-9]
Around the league
Spectators at Tuesday night's tri-meet between Mt. Hebron and Oakland Mills at Centennial were treated to a rare experience usually reserved for postseason all-star exhibitions: a showdown between two three-time state champions.
The clash of titans happened when Oakland Mills senior Tony Farace bumped up from 120 pounds to square off with Centennial senior Nathan Kraisser at 126.