It's a good thing that Centennial senior Nathan Kraisser is in his final year of high school, because at the rate that the 126-pounder is collecting trophies, shelf space is starting to run out.
"The mantle is getting a little crowded, especially with my little brother (Austin) doing well in the junior leagues," said Nathan Kraisser, whose latest conquest was being named the Outstanding Lowerweight at the Franklin Invitational Jan. 14.
Kraisser, the three-time county, region and state champion who was also named Outstanding Wrestler of the Arundel Invitational in December, pinned all of his opponents in the tournament in the first period, including Mt. Hebron's Connor Strunk in the championship round.
Despite the loss, Strunk has also been very impressive this season. Only a freshman, the loss to Kraisser was the first of his high school career.
"He was really quick on his feet and I can tell he's been wrestling for a long time. I really had to work hard to get in on his legs," Kraisser said of his young opponent. "I shot a double and took him down to his back and just squeezed."
Mt. Hebron freshman Jeff Hayden (106) and junior Joe Kendrick (145) each took third place for the Vikings.
Glenelg also represented Howard County well at the tournament, crowning a pair of champions — senior Tyler Asher (170) and junior Sean Twigg (285) — and placing fourth with 197 points, behind John Carroll (248.5), Archbishop Curley (207) and Owings Mills (198.5).
Twigg, who has been a force in his first year as a varsity wrestler, was also a finalist at the War on the Shore tournament, but this was Asher's first finals appearance.
"He's a first year varsity senior with a lot of talent. He came in with junior league experience, has worked hard for four years and it's paid off for him," coach Chris Rosas said. "He's a great leader and one of our captains. It's a nice confidence boost going into the final tournaments of the year and (I) look to see further improvement."
Also performing well for the Gladiators were Ryan Carter (138) and Glenn Lucas (195), who made it to the championship round, and Justin Jung (220), who won in the consolation finals to take third place.
Howard County was also represented in the tournament by Mount Airy Christian freshman captain Jesse Cherry, who placed fifth at 120.
Also this weekend, Howard, Long Reach and Reservoir took on a competitive field at the Grapple at the Brook tournament at Springbrook High School.
The county's only champion was Reservoir's Mason Kilcarr (113), who pinned Clarksburg's Eddie Kennedy in the finals. But with four other wrestlers in the finals — Joe Quattrone (106), Hans Wicklein (120), Sam Rowell (138) and Michael Sullivan (195) — the Gators placed a strong third place with 159 points, behind champion Cape Henlopen (234.5) and Springbrook (170). Wicklein was winning his finals match, 4-2, when he had to injury default at the end of the second period.
Howard's Nick Loiselle (182) also made it to the finals of the tournament, but after sustaining a concussion during a semifinal pin, he had to sit out the championship match.
Long Reach was represented on the podium by Ronald Hindman (113) in fifth.
River Hill had a strong showing at the Cavalier Duals at Archbishop Spalding, losing only one match, 42-27, to Georgetown Prep, and defeating Arundel, 47-29, in the third-place match.
"We were hoping to wrestle Spalding, but it didn't work out that way," coach Brandon Lauer said. "I thought our guys wrestled well and had a good experience at a tough tournament."
Hawks heavyweight Jason Johnson improved to 28-1 over the weekend, and scored a big win by pinning Georgetown Prep heavyweight Ryan Schneider in the second period.
In the tournament, Johnson was 7-0 with six pins and a tech fall. Four of his pins were in the first period and two of them came in less than 30 seconds.
Also leading the way for River Hill were Taariq Mohammed (113, 6-0, three pins), Cory Daniel (170, 6-1, four pins, tech fall), Omar Messallam (182, 7-0, five pins), Logan Kirby (195, 6-1, three pins) and Jacob Benedict (220, 7-0, four pins).
Wilde Lake struck a blow for Howard County at the Edgewood Invitational on Jan. 13 and 14, winning the team championship with 221 points, well ahead of runner-up Woodlawn (130), and crowning six champions, including senior Alex Polonsky (113), the 2010 state champion who improved to 25-0 with his performance and was named the Outstanding Lowerweight.
Jordan Trinh (120, 23-2), Malik Jackson (132, 18-4), Jode Faulkner (138, 11-8), Raheem Brown (145, 16-10) and Tola Morakinyo (160, 20-5) also won titles for the Wildecats at the seven-team tournament.