On the biggest stage of the season so far, the Glenelg wrestling team stepped up to the challenge and put the 3A/4A East region on notice.
The Gladiators, competing in one of the toughest regions in the state, made their trek to Saturday’s state duals look easy, as they dominated Bel Air, 42-28, and South River, 37-33, to win the 3A/4A East region dual title for the second straight season.
“It’s real satisfying,” said Glenelg coach Matt Bichner. “We graduated seven guys from last year’s team, we were fortunate enough to get a few transfers in who have been big differences, but it just shows we’re headed in the right direction. Guys are buying into the system and working hard, pushing themselves these last couple weeks and months.”
Though the final scores were close, both victories were decisive. The Gladiators led the Bobcats, 39-10, before forfeiting three of the last four matches, and against the Seahawks they held a 37-9 lead before forfeiting the final four bouts.
South River coach John Klessinger said Glenelg was a better team than he anticipated.
“They’re good. They’re probably better than I thought. I think we could’ve been better,” said Klessinger, whose team held off Broadneck, 33-29, in the other semifinal. “I’m not making excuses — they were definitely the better team — but if we wrestled our best maybe it would be a more competitive match. But right now they have more horses. Their weak weights are still pretty good, and that’s the difference.”
Both teams won two matches in the first four bouts to make it 9-9, but Glenelg’s relentless lineup hit its stride after Drew Sotka won a 5-4 decision over the Seahawks’ Trenton Puccinelli at 138 pounds. His victory sparked a run where the Gladiators won six straight matches, including three by fall and another by major decision, to put the match out of reach with four matches remaining.
Klessinger said he knew the scouting report on Glenelg but his team simply couldn’t stop it.
“Cradles, that’s all it was,” he said. “We haven’t seen a team that was that relentless on top. ... Every kid was looking for a fall and my homework from here on out is to get our kids ready for that higher level because they were at that higher level.”
Of Glenelg’s 10 wrestlers to compete, nine won at least once while six won twice. Jared Thomas (126 pounds), a sophomore who transferred from Good Counsel, pinned both of his opponents to improve to 32-1, while Drew Sotka (138), Dylan Istre (145), Max Sotka (160), Garrett Murray (170) and Sam Alsheimer (182/195) also won twice with a pin each.
“This is our fourth years with the big schools and we’ve qualified for region duals every year and we’ve won the last two,” Bichner said. “We’re going down to 2A next year and I still consider us a smaller school against the big schools, so coming here and to compete and dominate is a good sign.”
Glenelg lost to Oakdale in the semifinals at state duals a year ago, and though Bichner doesn’t know which teams have qualified, he said the goal is to bring home a championship.
“We’re going to compete. All the teams that are at the final four deserve to be there and they’re the top dogs,” Bichner said. “We’re confident that if we work hard and push the action then good things happen. I’m not ruling us out against anybody.”
Bel Air, meanwhile, has been to the regional duals in each of the last seven seasons. But against Glenelg, it managed to win just three of the 10 matches wrestled, and only one earned bonus points. Reddish said there were several other matches they needed to win to knock off the defending regional champions but couldn’t pull through.
“I thought we could win a couple down low, but at 132, 138 and 145 were ones that I thought we had to win, and we were actually winning a few of those and got pinned, so that hurts,” he said. “But [Glenelg] doesn’t really have a weak spot. They have a pretty solid guy at every weight class, and we’re good up top but some of their guys were just a little bit better.”
In the other semifinal, Broadneck, which lost to South River, 48-20, on Dec. 20, made things interesting until the final match. The Bruins won four straight bouts from 170 to 220 pounds to cut their deficit from 30-12 to 30-29, but Seahawks heavyweight Brendan Woody (33-1) sealed his team’s 33-29 victory with a 4-0 decision over Ryan McNeal.
Broadneck coach Reid Bloomfield said what he saw from his team on Wednesday was night and day compared to early in the season.
“As far as the team effort, I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. Coming from where we were in December to where we are now, it’s almost like two different teams,” he said. “Guys are in their weight classes, they’re hitting their stuff and guys are really improving. My hats off to South River, they’re a great team. They were conditioned, they were ready to go and so were we, we just fell a little bit short.”
Finals: Glenelg (26-2) — 37, South River (27-6) — 33
113: Calvin Brumfield (SR) dec. Logan Gwin (G), 5-4 [0-3]
120: Tino Campanile (G) dec. Tyler Larson (SR), 7-1 [3-3]
126: Jared Thomas (G) pinned Haden Mackowiak (SR), 3:03 [9-3]
132: Ryan Castro (SR) pinned Ian Gwin (G), 1:59 [9-9]
138: Drew Sotka (G) dec. Trenton Puccinelli (SR), 5-4 [12-9]
145: Dylan Istre (G) pinned Jonas Beardmore (SR), 3:26 [18-9]
152: Jacob Jones (G) pinned Gage Kinohi (SR), 2:16 [24-9]
160: Max Sotka (G) major dec. Zach Wasilewski (SR), 16-7 [38-9]
170: Garrett Murray (G) dec. Sam Savala (SR), 6-3 [31-9]
182: Sam Alsheimer (G) pinned Danny Cowan (SR), 2:52 [37-9]
195: Moses Savala (SR) fft. [37-15]
220: Zach Osborne (SR) fft. [37-21]
285: Brendan Woody (SR) fft. [37-27]
106: Isaac Barber (SR) fft. [37-33]
Semifinals: Glenelg — 42, Bel Air (28-3) — 28
106: Kevin Hansberger (G) pinned Troy Dureza (BA), 1:32 [6-0]
113: Brent Lorin (BA) major dec. Logan Gwin (G), 15-4 [6-4]
120: Jacob Reed (BA) dec. Tino Campanile (G), 3-2 [6-7]
126: Jared Thomas (G) pinned Dylan Paul (BA), 0:32 [12-7]
132: Ian Gwin (G) pinned Zach Alasio (BA), 1:58 [18-7]
138: Drew Sotka (G) pinned Grant Cole (BA), 3:41 [24-7]
145: Dylan Istre (G) dec. Liam Bowers (BA), 3-2 [27-7]
152: Scott Miser (BA) dec. Jacob Jones (G), 8-2 [27-10]
160: Max Sotka (G) pinned Dave Aboud (BA), 4:47 [33-10]
170: Garrett Murray (G) pinned Noah Beyers (BA), 1:40 [39-10]
182: Sam Queen (BA) fft. [39-16]
195: Sam Alsheimer (G) dec. Tommy Gomez (BA), 5-1 [42-16]
220: Jack Brink (BA) fft. [42-22]
285: Joe Cirillo (BA) fft. [42-28]
Semifinals: South River — 33, Broadneck (15-3) — 29
106: Isaac Barber (SR) pinned Justin Cassidy (B), 2:31 [6-0]
113: Calvin Brumfield (SR) pinned Ethan Kanetzsky (B), 3:59 [12-0]
120: Nick Shardt (B) pinned Tyler Larson (SR), 3:12 [12-6]
126: Haden Mackowiak (SR) major dec. Kyle Keller (B), 13-1 [16-6]
132: Ryan Castro (SR) pinned Joe Ward (B), 1:24 [22-6]
138: Owen Joyce (B) dec. Trenton Puccinelli (SR), 8-4 [22-9]
145: Mack Groah (B) dec. Jonas Beardmore (SR), 8-6 [22-12]
152: Gage Kinohi (SR) major dec. Justin Hartstuff (B), 9-1 [26-12]
160: Zack Wasilewski (SR) major dec. Drake Pollock (B), 11-2 [30-12]
170: Zach Doyle (B) pinned Sam Savala (SR), 2:45 [30-18]
182: Wyatt Thompson (B) major dec. Danny Cowan (SR), 19-9 [30-22]
195: Noah Genovese (B) major dec. Moses Savala (SR), 9-1 [30-26]
220: Vinny Facciponti (B) dec. Zach Osborne (SR), 3-1 UTB [30-29]
285: Brendan Woody (SR) dec. Ryan McNeal (B), 4-0 [33-29]