After River Hill watched Glenelg raise the county tournament trophy at Oakland Mills High two weeks ago, the defending state tournament champion Hawks were eager to get some swagger back.
By winning the 3A/4A East regional tournament title Feb. 23 at Wilde Lake, River Hill got just what it was looking for.
“This region is unbelievably difficult. The depth at every single weight class is just amazing. We only have six guys going to states, but they’re six of our best wrestlers,” said River Hill wrestling coach Brandon Lauer, whose team held off second-place South River, 141.5-111.5, and had clinched the title before the final round even began.
Michael Beck (106), Taariq Mohammed (113), Cory Daniel (195) and Logan Kirby (220) all won regional titles on Saturday evening, while Brian Kirby (182) was a finalist and Justin Nestor (285) placed third.
The top four wrestlers at each weight class advance to this weekend’s state tournament at the University of Maryland (Check High School Wrap-Up for complete regional results).
Beck, Daniel and Logan Kirby are a combined 104-0 this season.
“Our outstanding wrestlers have been outstanding whether its dual meets or tournaments or whatever,” Lauer said. “So we’re going to lean on them next week and hopefully put some points up.”
South River, which knocked River Hill out of the regional dual tournament earlier this month, crowned only one champion: Austin Alley (126).
Daniel defeated South River’s Anthony Rossi in the 195-pound championship. Earlier this month Rossi bumped up two weight classes and defeated River Hill heavyweight Justin Nestor.
“I knew he was definitely a tough kid, I wrestled him a few times in the room before, I’ve beat him before,” Daniel said. “I knew, Lauer knew, the whole team knew that the toughest tournament was going to be countys. We didn’t pull it off, but we got a win here at regionals and thats going to boost us going into states.”
River Hill was the only school with multiple champions.
“That’s part of how we did so well here is we wanted to get that bad taste (from the county tournament) out,” Mohammed said. “Losing a tournament title is pretty tough, so we had a solid week of training and came in here ready to go.”
The tournament’s marquee match came at 170, where Wilde Lake’s Tola Morakinyo and Bel Air’s William Holder-Moore met in a showdown between undefeated wrestlers.
Morakinyo came out on top, 8-5, to hand Holder-Moore his first loss of the season.
“It feels so good to know you’re wrestling someone quality, probably just as good as you are, and it’s just about who has that day where they’re just on,” said Morakinyo, who improved to 36-0. “I just needed that win. Sometimes you just want to win, and then there are those times where something in you needs to win.”
Centennial freshman Austin Kraisser won the 138-pound title over Annapolis’ Stanley Proctor, and has not lost since the first weekend of the season at the War on the Shore tournament.
“After War on the Shore I started working harder than I had been, I just wanted to win a little bit more,” said Kraisser, whose older brother Nathan won four state titles between 2008 and 2012. “I have a positive outlook but I don’t want to be too confident because there are a lot of really good wrestlers still there.”
The most bizarre moment of the tournament came in the 160-pound championship match.
Hammond’s Bryan Overton had his Stephen Decatur opponent on his back early in the first period when the Stephen Decatur coaches threw in the towel, ending the match just over a minute in.
“I had him in the cradle and he screamed and cursed ... and the coach took him out. He was fine,” Overton said. “I’ll take a win when I can get it. I wanted to wrestle the full match ... but I came out on top.”
Mt. Hebron’s Jeff Hayden (106) and Ryan Hassan (220), Wilde Lake’s Jordan Trinh (126) and Malik Jackson (145), and Reservoir’s Mason Kilcarr (132) all made it to the finals but placed second.
Glenelg won the 1A/2A South title, 225-175.5, over runner-up Oakland Mills at Marriotts Ridge.
The Gladiators crowned five champions — Tim Null (106), Zack Shackelford (126), Mike Budock (132), Troy Walter (152) and Sean Twigg (285) — and had 12 wrestlers place top three to qualify for states.
Oakland Mills’ Zach Hensley (120) and Jaron Smith (160), and Long Reach’s Ronald Hindman (113) also won 1A/2A South regional titles.
3A/4A East championship finals
106: Michael Beck (River Hill) dec. Jeff Hayden (Mt. Hebron), 3-1.
113: Taariq Mohammed (River Hill) dec. Nate Rosenblatt (Stephen Decatur), 7-5.
120: Tanner Chaplain (Arundel) pin Noel Rodriguez (North County), 5:43.
126: Austin Alley (South River) dec. Jordan Trinh (Wilde Lake), 8-4.
132: Cameron Harrell (Broadneck) dec. Mason Kilcarr (Reservoir), 5-2.
138: Austin Kraisser (Centennial) dec. Stanley Proctor (Annapolis), 9-2.
145: Ben Swanson (C. Milton Wright) dec. Malik Jackson (Wilde Lake), 7-3.
152: Sam Ziff (Severna Park) dec. John Cross (Bel Air), 3-0.
160: Bryan Overton (Hammond) inj. def. Andrew Borradaile (Stephen Decatur), 1:06.
170: Akintola Morakinyo (Wilde Lake) dec. William Holder-Moore (Bel Air), 8-5.
182: Malik Smith (North County) dec. Brian Kirby (River Hill), 9-3.
195: Cory Daniel (River Hill) dec. Anthony Rossi (South River), 5-0.
220: Logan Kirby (River Hill) pin Ryan Hassan (Mt. Hebron), 2:54.
285: Ryan Kail (Stephen Decatur) pin Landon Reecher (Broadneck), 1:03.
3A/4A East team standings
1. River Hill, 145.5
2. South River, 111.5
3. Wilde Lake, 82.5
4. Stephen Decatur, 78
5. Reservoir, 74.5
6. Bel Air, 64
7. Mt. Hebron, 62.5
8. Aberdeen, 56
9. Arundel, 53
9. Broadneck, 53
11. North County, 51.5
12. C. Milton Wright, 39
13. Hammond, 35
14. Severna Park, 34
15. Annapolis, 24
15. Centennial, 24
17. Meade, 22
18. Old Mill, 20
19. NorthEast AA, 17
20. Howard, 14
21. Atholton, 13
21. North Harford, 13
23. Glen Burnie, 8
24. Cheaspeake, 0
24. James M. Bennett, 0