In a sense, it was the changing of the guard at the 3A/4A East regional wrestling tournament at Northeast High School Saturday night.
After all was said and done, it was fitting that former River Hill coach Brandon Lauer, who led the Hawks to the last four region tournament crowns, handed the tournament trophy over to Glenelg coach Matt Bichner and his team in just their third year in the 3A/4A classification.
The Gladiators outscored Old Mill, 136 points to 113, to add a region tournament championship to their regional dual title in early February and county tournament title a week ago.
“Coming from the 1A/2A South, which was a little bit of a weaker region back then, to now being in what’s considered one of the toughest regions in the state, it’s always great to see that we’re getting better,” Glenelg coach Matt Bichner said. “It’s always nice to keep the region title in county too, because River Hill won it four years in a row. Keeping it in the county is awesome.”
Though the Gladiators failed to crown a single individual champion, all 11 wrestlers that qualified won at least one match, and seven placed in the top-four to advance to next week’s 3A/4A state tournament at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.
“We won some close matches, we won some bonus points in a lot of matches, and I think that all adds up,” Bichner said. “Everybody wrestled tough and came back.”
Bel Air finished third with 109.5 points, while Centennial (105) and South River (100) finished in the top five. Full team scores can be found below.
Though the Gators finished just outside the top five in sixth, they and Arundel (seventh place) each had three individual champions.
Reservoir’s Todd Del Tufo admitted that he was tired of coming up one match short of capturing a postseason tournament title. The sophomore finished runner-up at counties and regionals a year ago, and last weekend he fell in overtime in the semifinals at the county tournament and finished third.
On Saturday, though, Del Tufo – who has won more than a handful of tight, low-scoring bouts this year – saved his best for last. He broke a 1-1 tie and sealed a takedown with five seconds remaining to beat Glenelg’s Parker Griffie, 3-2.
“That’s about every single match this year,” he said with a laugh. “I knew his offense is that low single, so I really worked on my defense, and that snap down and spin is something I’ve been working on all week just for that. ... After losing in so many postseason tournament, to finally win one feels amazing.”
Del Tufo’s teammate, AJ Strott, won arguably the toughest weight class of the tournament by handing C.M. Wright’s Wyatt Graham his first loss of the year, 2-1, with a late reversal in the semifinals, and then followed that up by sticking Severna Park’s Kyle Craven in the final in just 1 minute, 30 seconds using an arm bar. It’s the second straight postseason title for Strott (35-2), who pinned his county championship opponent as well.
“I’m pretty confident in scrambles. I’m really good at getting my hips high and capitalizing and catching a lot of guys,” said Strott, who earned his first takedown and two nearfall points after winning a scramble. “(Winning the toughest weight class) shows that I have a great chance at doing well at states. I feel this region, it could be just as powerful as states because I feel the other three guys are also going to place at the state tournament.”
The Gators’ Shawn Hamilton must have learned a lot from both of his teammates, considering he stepped on the mat after Strott and locked up a cradle and the fall in 1:53 over Meade’s Chris Bonilla. Like Del Tufo, it’s the first major tournament victory for Hamilton.
“It was exhilarating because it’s the first finals match that I’ve actually won in high school,” said Hamilton, who avenged his county finals loss to Mt. Hebron’s Nick Nordhausen with a 5-3 win in the semifinals. “The last two years, I made it to the finals at the Springbrook tournament, and at counties the last two years I lost in the finals. This time, on the biggest stage so far this season, I get a win with a first-period pin. It’s the best.”
Centennial’s Kraisser brothers put the show in the championship finals, much like they did at the county tournament.
Eagles freshman Jason Kraisser made his tournament run look easy. He scored a first-period fall and a 10-0 major decision to reach the 132-pound finals, where he pinned North Harford’s Will Sadowski in 2:40.
Kraisser, who lost all three of his matches on the year at Mount Mat Madness, says he has his eyes set on winning a state title next week, and that this weekend helped him prepare for the final stretch by figuring out what he needs to improve on.
“It feels good. I just have to keep it up for one more week before reaching my goals for the year,” he said. “He got bad positioning, and I capitalized on that. ... I still feel like I need to prove myself, and that will be next week at states.”
Older brother Austin Kraisser added another achievement to his already outstanding career by winning his fourth region title to go with his four county championships. He earned pins in 3:14, 2:41 and 3:08 en route to capturing win No. 150 and the 160-pound regional title over South River’s Chase Lunsford.
Kraisser admitted after the victory that four regional titles doesn’t feel as special as four county tournament titles, but starting to sense the end of his illustrious high school career is only one week away, he’s taking it all in.
“It’s starting to feel like everywhere I go it will be the last time I’ll be there,” said Kraisser, who ran his record to 36-0. “But really, it just gets me that much more excited for college (at Campbell University in North Carolina).”
River Hill senior Sean Guthier overcame a sluggish semifinal bout to win the 182-pound championship by defeating Bel Air’s Tom Gomez, 4-0. Guthier said he just trying to focus on what he could control, though he admitted it was a little upsetting the team couldn’t capture a fifth-straight regional championship.
“It feels great. Coming off a great win in the finals last week, it feels good to keep moving forward and win a tough tournament and show what I’ve got,” said Guthier, who improved to 36-2 this season. “We’ve got a lot of young kids on the team, a lot of kids not come back for the team and a lot of seniors graduate, so I’m not too disappointed we didn’t come out on top as a team. It was kind of expected.”
Bel Air freshman Brent Lorin entered the tournament as the top seed at 106 pounds and proved why as he breezed through the weight class. He pinned South River’s Calvin Brumfield in 4:13 to improve his record to 40-0.
“It feels great. As a freshman, winning a region as tough as this,” he said. “It’s not common, so it feels good to be one of those guys that does it.”
South River’s Brendan Woody also kept his undefeated record in tact (41-0) and secured the heavyweight title with an 8-4 decision over Long Reach’s Phil Watters in the championship bout.
Old Mill put two atop the podium, as Robbie Fleming defeated Glenelg’s Sam Kraus, 3-1, to win the 126-pound championship, and Chase Pennell pinned Edgewood’s Ariq Dixon in 5:09 to take home the 138-pound title.
Arundel’s Nathan Gainey, a region and state tournament runner-up to River Hill’s Matt Shealy a year ago, dominated the 113-pound weight class with two major decisions and a pin to improve his season record to 39-1. He capped it off with a 19-9 major decision of North County’s Chris Kirchner in the championship.
Gainey’s teammate Nathan LaBille beat South River’s Ryan Castro, 8-7, in a semifinal before edging Centennial’s Jacob Blyukher, 5-2, to capture the 120-pound championship.
Anthony Gamble edged Glenelg’s Garrett Murray, 3-2, to win the 152-pound title and give the Wildcats three champions.
Aberdeen’s Ethan Smith, who was a match away from placing at the Pennsylvania state tournament a year ago, dominated the 170-pound bracket. He won by fall in the quarterfinals, than earned two technical falls – the last of which was a 23-7 victory over Annapolis’ Jon Proctor in the final – to take home his first Maryland regional title and keep his record undefeated at 29-0.
In total, Howard County advances 22 wrestlers to the 3A/4A state tournament March 4-5 at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro. See complete 3A/4A East regional tournament results below:
106 pounds: Finals: Brent Lorin (Bel Air) pinned Calvin Brumfield (South River), 4:13
Semifinals: No. 1 seed Brent Lorin (Bel Air) major dec. No. 4 seed Logan Gwin (Glenelg), 11-0
No. 2 Calvin Brumfield (South River) pinned No. 6 Ryan Keeley (Howard), 2:26
3rd place match: No. 8 Nick Vila (Chesapeake) major dec. No. 4 Logan Gwin (Glenelg), 14-3
113 pounds: Finals: Nathan Gainey (Arundel) major dec. Chris Kirchner (North County), 19-9
Semifinals: No. 1 Nathan Gainey (Arundel) major dec. No. 5 Nicholas Schardt (Broadneck), 15-3
No. 2 Chris Kirchner (North County) major dec. No. 3 Casey Payne (Old Mill), 13-5
3rd place match: No. 3 Casey Payne (Old Mill) dec. No. 5 Nicholas Schardt (Broadneck), 8-4
120 pounds: Finals: Nathan LaBille (Arundel) dec. Jacob Blyukher (Centennial), 5-2
Semifinals: No. 4 Jacob Blyukher (Centennial) pinned No. 1 Willie Hampton (Atholton), 3:47
No. 3. Nathan LaBille (Arundel) dec. No. 2 Ryan Castro (South River), 8-7
3rd place match: No. 1 Willie Hampton (Atholton) dec. No. 2 Ryan Castro (South River), 6-1
126 pounds: Finals: Robbie Fleming (Old Mill) dec. Sam Kraus (Glenelg), 3-1
Semifinals: No. 1 Robbie Fleming (Old Mill) major dec. No. 5 Jacob Reed (Bel Air), 8-0
No. 2 Sam Kraus (Glenelg) major dec. No. 3 Dalton Kleinhen (Reservoir), 12-0
3rd place match: No. 5 Jacob Reed (Bel Air) dec. No. 4 Trenton Puccinelli (South River), 8-2
132 pounds: Finals: Jason Kraisser (Centennial) pinned Will Sadowski (North Harford), 2:40
Semifinals: No. 1 Jason Kraisser (Centennial) major dec. No. 4 Collin Silk (Glenelg), 10-0
No. 3 Will Sadowski (North Harford) DQ No. 7 McLean Linehan (Severna Park)
3rd place match: No. 8 Kerwin McLendon (Old Mill) dec. No. 4 Collin Silk (Glenelg), 4-3
138 pounds: Finals: Chase Pennell (Old Mill) pinned Ariq Nixon (Edgewood), 5:09
Semifinals: No. 1 Chase Pennell (Old Mill) dec. No. 5 Jimmy Hayden (Mt. Hebron), 5-3
No. 2 Ariq Nixon (Edgewood) pinned No. 3 Jacob Jones (Glenelg), 4:54
3rd place match: No. 5 Jimmy Hayden (Mt. Hebron) dec. No. 3 Jacob Jones (Glenelg), 5-3
145 pounds: Finals: Todd Del Tufo (Reservoir) dec. Parker Griffie (Glenelg), 3-2
Semifinals: No. 1 Todd Del Tufo (Reservoir) dec. No. 5 Avan Debow (Glen Burnie), 13-6
No. 3 Parker Griffie (Glenelg) dec. No. 2 Ammar Narmouq (Centennial), 6-5
3rd place match: No. 2 Ammar Narmouq (Centennial) dec. No. 5 Avan Debow (Glen Burnie), 11-9
152 pounds: Finals: Anthony Gamble (Arundel) dec. Garrett Murray (Glenelg), 3-2
Semifinals: No. 1 Anthony Gamble (Arundel) dec. No. 4 Sean Billups (Atholton), 9-5
No. 2 Garrett Murray (Glenelg) pinned No. 3 Scott Miser (Bel Air), 3:15
3rd place match: No. 3 Scott Miser (Bel Air) pinned No. 4 Sean Billups (Atholton), 2:26
160 pounds: Finals: Austin Kraisser (Centennial) pinned Chase Lunsford (South River), 3:08
Semifinals: No. 1 Austin Kraisser (Centennial) pinned No. 5 Trevor Proctor (Bel Air), 2:41
No. 2 Chase Lunsford (South River) dec. No. 6 Boris Beltran (Old Mill), 3-2
3rd place match: No. 3 Max Sotka (Glenelg) dec. No. 4 Jack Connolly (River Hill), 5-1
170 pounds: Finals: Ethan Smith (Aberdeen) tech fall Jon Proctor (Annapolis), 23-7
Semifinals: No. 1 Ethan Smith (Aberdeen) tech fall No. 5 Sam Queen (Bel Air), 26-11
No. 2 Jon Proctor (Annapolis) major dec. No. 3 Wyatt Thompson (Broadneck), 12-0
3rd place match: No. 3 Wyatt Thompson (Broadneck) dec. No. 5 Sam Queen (Bel Air), 2-1
182 pounds: Finals: Sean Guthier (River Hill) dec. Tom Gomez (Bel Air), 4-0
Semifinals: No. 1 Sean Guthier (River Hill) dec. No. 4 Nate Hammond (Old Mill), 2-1 2OT
No. 2 Tom Gomez (Bel Air) tech fall No. 3 Trevor Bellotte (Severna Park), 20-2
3rd place match: No. 4 Nate Hammond (Old Mill) pinned No. 3 Trevor Bellotte (Severna Park), 1:39
195 pounds: Finals: AJ Strott (Reservoir) pinned Kyle Craven (Severna Park), 1:30
Semifinals: No. 4 AJ Strott (Reservoir) dec. No. 1 Wyatt Graham (C.M. Wright), 2-1
No. 3 Kyle Craven (Severna Park) pinned No. 2 CJ Allen (Aberdeen), 4:31
3rd place match: No. 2 CJ Allen (Aberdeen) dec. No. 1 Wyatt Graham (C.M. Wright), 4-2
220 pounds: Finals: Shawn Hamilton (Reservoir) pinned Christopher Bonilla (Meade), 1:53
Semifinals: No. 5 Christopher Bonilla (Meade) pinned No. 1 Dakota Crawford (Bel Air), 5:14
No. 2 Shawn Hamilton (Reservoir) dec. No. 3 Nick Nordhausen (Mt. Hebron), 5-3
3rd place match: No. 1 Dakota Crawford (Bel Air) dec. No. 3 Nick Nordhausen (Mt. Hebron), 5-1
285 pounds: Finals: Brendan Woody (South River) dec. Phil Watters (Long Reach), 8-4
Semifinals: No. 1 Brendan Woody (South River) pinned No. 5 Jamie Cooch (Glenelg), 2:22
No. 2 Phil Watters (Long Reach) dec. No. 6 Tyler Ecker (Reservoir), 10-4
3rd place match: No. 3 Zach Acosta (Old Mill) dec. No. 6 Tyler Ecker (Reservoir), 5-2
Team scores: 1. Glenelg, 136 points; 2. Old Mill, 113; 3. Bel Air, 109.5; 4. Centennial, 105; 5. South River, 100; 6. Reservoir, 85; 7. Arundel, 70; 8. Aberdeen, 49; 9. Long Reach, 36; t10. North County, 35; t10. River Hill, 35; 12. Mt. Hebron, 32; 13. Atholton, 31.5; 14. Severna Park, 26; 15. Broadneck, 24; t16. C.M. Wright, 20; t16. Edgewood, 20; t16. North Harford, 20; 19. Annapolis, 19; 20. Meade, 18; 21. Chesapeake, 16; 22. Howard, 14; 23. Glen Burnie, 12; 24. Wilde Lake, 6; t25. Hammond, 0; t25. Northeast, 0