Glenelg wrestling coach Matt Bichner sensed complacency from his team at last year’s Maryland Public School Athletic Association state duals. He felt his team was satisfied with just making the trip to the final four at North Point High School, and the result was a decisive semifinal defeat.
The message leading up to Saturday’s 3A/4A competition was much different.
“Last year we got here and got beat up by Oakdale,” Bichner said. “We wanted to come here and compete and work hard. If you compete in all 14 weight classes and you lose, you can’t complain.”
The No. 2 seed Gladiators (27-3) started tight but came from behind to win a dramatic semifinal, 30-25, against No. 3 Leonardtown on a pin from Dylan Istre in the final bout to reach the final for the first time since 2013. There, however, they fell victim to No. 1 seed Damascus, the state’s most dominant public school wrestling force that extended it’s dual winning streak to 127 and captured its fifth straight title and seventh overall with a 47-18 victory.
Top-seeded Sparrows Point (35-5), which knocked off No. 4 Oakland Mills (17-8), 56-19, in a 1A/2A semifinal, reached the final for the first time in school history but ultimately fell to defending champion Middletown, 56-19. But the day was about the Hornets, who beat No. 4 seed North Hagerstown, 49-17, in the other semifinal, and their record streak of dominance.
“Holy smokes, it’s amazing,” said Hornets coach John A. Furgeson after hearing his team’s winning streak is the eighth longest winning streak of all-time, according to the National Federation of State High School Association’s record book. “It hasn’t hit us yet. Someone threw out some Take 5 candy bars. I just can’t believe this kind of run we’ve had.”
The Gladiators took a nine-point lead after Max Sotka (160 pounds) won a decision and Garrett Murray (170) and Sam Alshiemer (195) won by fall, but Damascus followed with five straight victories to take a 30-15 lead and won nine of the final 10 bouts. Only a decision from Jared Thomas at 126 pounds slowed the bleeding.
“We knew it was an uphill battle against Damascus,” Bichner said. “We knew we had to really pull an upset to make it close, and we battled. Some kids wrestled better than others but overall I’m proud of my guys. State runner-up isn’t too bad, especially losing to Damascus.”
Sparrows Point coach Mike Whisner echoed a similar sentiment to Bichner’s. The Pointers were blown out by eventual champion Oakland Mills two years ago in the semifinal, and Whisner made sure his team was prepared to exact some revenge and have a shot at winning the title against a team they lost to earlier this season.
“It was our first time ever winning regional duals. I think that team, their mission, their whole goal was to get here. Once they got here they got a little content,” he said. “This year’s team is a little different. They have higher expectations.”
Sparrows Point (35-5) trailed No. 2 Middletown, 15-0, after three matches but climbed back into the dual with three consecutive wins of its own at 120, 126 and 132 pounds to make it 15-12. Like Damascus, however, the Knights, who dominated No. 3 North Caroline, 55-15, to reach the final, hit their stride and pulled away with five straight wins and victories in seven of the last eight bouts.
Middletown coach Jim Schartner, whose team was in the final for the third straight season, said winning the first three matches at 285, 106 and 113 pounds gave his team a big enough cushion, especially with how tough his team’s middleweight grapplers are.
“Those were critical matches that we [ended] up winning ... and we got the early momentum and that was really important for us. It was really important for us to set the tone of the match,” he said. “Sparrows Point has an excellent team. If you’re in the state final, you have an excellent team. We know how tough it is to get here. We knew they were going to be a tough opponent.”
Whisner agreed that losing the first three matches were critical.
“We knew if we were going to pull an upset we needed to get some of those lower weights and we didn’t get it,” he said. “This was our first opportunity here, and today we kind of took that next step. Now we’ve got the feeling of what it’s like to be in the finals so hopefully next year we can take another step.”
In the semifinal, Glenelg trailed Leonardtown for the majority of the dual. The Raiders led, 22-9, before the Gladiators’ Tino Campanile ended a five-match skid with a 4-2 decision at 120 pounds. Jared Thomas followed with a 56-second pin at 126 pounds to cut the deficit to 22-18, but Leonardtown’s Jonathan Shin’s 7-2 win over Ian Gwin (132) meant Glenelg needed to win the final two matches to advance.
Freshman Drew Sotka (138) broke a scoreless match in the second period by putting Andy Hor on his back to secured the fall, and, in a winner-take-all match at 145 pounds, Glenelg senior Dylan Istre overcame a 4-1 deficit and pinned Leonardtown’s Ben Ciancio in 3:12 to seal the victory.
“It felt pretty good. Everything fell into place,” Istre said. “I stayed calm the whole time, I never really doubted that I would come out on top, I just didn’t think it would go like that. That was the second time he got the cradle. The first time I popped my arm out and he didn’t lock it, so the second time he did it I had my arm out, posted it and locked him up.”
Sparrows Point won 10 of 14 bouts, including eight by fall or forfeit, against Oakland Mills to win in convincing fashion. The Pointers blew things open after Max Hammond defeated two-time state runner-up Kyle Farace, 4-0, at 132 pounds to make it 27-9.
“Max Hammond beating the No. 1 ranked kid in the state in 1A/2A gave the team a whole new level of confidence,” Whisner said.
Scorpions coach Brad Howell, whose team was competing at the state duals for the third straight season, thought his team lost a little composure after watching Farace go down.
“We pulled the guys back together but we definitely wanted to regain our composure at that point,” he said. “I thought we lost a little bit and the bench was getting a little quiet. ... We put a couple guys out of their game, out of their element trying to come back in. But Kyle has been wrestling at a high level all year. He didn’t execute well in that match but that’s a good, quality kid he had to wrestle.”
Damascus — 47, Glenelg — 18
160: Max Sotka (G) dec. Timothy Furgeson (D), 7-4 [0-3]
170: Garrett Murray (G) pinned Aiden Beall (D), 3:09 [0-9]
182: Paul Evan Purkey (D) pinned Jake Arnone (G), 1:06 [6-9]
195: Sam Alsheimer (G) pinned Jevani Christian (D), 4:52 [6-15]
220: Elijah Baisden (D) fft. [12-15]
285: Michael Bradshaw (D) pinned Robbie Baxter (G), 2:49 [18-15]
106: Silas Patton (D) dec. Kevin Hansberger (G), 7-4 [21-15]
113: TJ Macklin (D) dec. Logan Gwin (G), 6-1 [24-15]
120: John McLaughlin (D) pinned Tino Campanile (G), 1:53 [30-15]
126: Jared Thomas (G) dec. Dyllan Ramirez (D), 10-5 [30-18]
132: Scott Obendorfer (D) tech fall Ian Gwin (G), 17-1 [35-18]
138: Collin Gallagher (D) dec. Drew Sotka (G), 3-2 [38-18]
145: Ryan Lawrence (D) pinned Dylan Istre (G), 1:30 [44-18]
152: John Allan Furgeson (D) dec. Jacob Jones (G), 8-1 [47-18]
Glenelg — 30, Leonardtown — 25
152: John Podsednik (L) dec. Jacob Jones (G), 6-3 [0-3]
160: Max Sotka (G) dec. Trevor Crowley (L), 13-11 [3-3]
170: Garrett Murray (G) dec. Steven Bieshelt (L), 5-0 [6-3]
182: Jake Arnone (G) dec. DeShawn Perkins (L), 7-5 OT [9-3]
195: Alex Green (L) major dec. Sam Alsheimer (G), 14-6 [9-7]
220: Alex Woodburn (L) fft. [9-13]
285: Robert Kelly (L) dec. Robbie Baxter (G), 8-4 [9-16]
106: Sean Vosburgh (L) dec. Kevin Hansberger (G), 7-2 [9-19]
113: Parker McDowell (L) dec. Logan Gwin (G), 10-3 [9-22]
120: Antonio Campanile (G) dec. Brian Bieshelt (L), 4-2 [12-22]
126: Jared Thomas (G) pinned Garrett Lee (L), 0:56 [18-22]
132: Jonathan Shin (L) dec. Ian Gwin (G), 7-2 [18-25]
138: Drew Sotka (G) pinned Andy Hor (L), 2:56 [24-25]
145: Dylan Istre (G) pinned Ben Ciancio (L), 3:12 [30-25]
Middletown — 56, Sparrows Point — 19
285: Sean Mullican (M) pinned Justin Rallo (SP), 1:01 [6-0]
106: Jeremy Farron (M) pinned Matt Fouts (SP), 5:28 [12-0]
113: Jason Guglielmini (M) major dec. Danny Davis (SP), 12-3 [16-0]
120: Mike Fouts (SP) pinned Ethan Grossnickle (M), 3:08 [16-6]
126: Skyler Minutelli (SP) major dec. Noah Grossnickle (M), 8-0 [16-10]
132: Max Hammond (SP) dec. Sean Farron (M), 5-2 [16-13]
138: Danny Bertoni (M) pinned John Harris (SP), 1:04 [22-13]
145: Josh Paige (M) major dec. Ethan Hoenig (SP), 18-4 [26-13]
152: Adam Bain (M) pinned Cortavious Carter (SP), 3:21 [32-13]
160: Nick Madden (M) pinned Quentin Hager (SP), 3:19 [38-13]
170: Cam Farrow (M) pinned Givoni Herring (SP), 1:47 [44-13]
182: Ethan Smith (SP) pinned Beau Herrmann (M), 3:21 [44-19]
195: Sean Herrmann (M) pinned Skyler Drzewiecki (SP), 0:58 [50-19]
220: Tyler Clemmer (M) pinned Josh Hux (SP), 3:31 [56-19]
Sparrows Point — 56, Oakland Mills — 19
220: Josh Hux (SP) pinned Khalil Abdul-Malik (OM), 3:05 [6-0]
285: Kyle Boothe (OM) pinned Justin Rallo (SP), 3:42 [6-6]
106: Daiquan Anderson (OM) dec. Matt Fouts (SP), 7-3 [6-9]
113: Danny Davis (SP) pinned Jalen Cornelius (OM), 1:59 [12-9]
120: Mike Fouts (SP) fft. [18-9]
126: Skyler Minutelli (SP) fft. [24-9]
132: Max Hammond (SP) dec. Kyle Farace (OM), 4-0 [27-9]
138: Ethan Hoenig (SP) tech fall James Pender (OM), 19-2 [32-9]
145: John Rynn (OM) pinned Cortavious Carter (SP), 3:07 [32-15]
152: Ronnie Brown (SP) pinned Benjamin Goldfein (OM), 4:48 [38-15]
160: Anthony Morales (OM) major dec. T.J. Saunders (SP), 17-6 [38-19]
170: Quentin Hager (SP) pinned Mulbah Kamara (OM), 5:56 [44-19]
182: Drew Gorsuch (SP) fft. [50-19]
195: Ethan Smith (SP) fft. [56-19]