Most of the usual suspects advanced Friday night to the MPSSAA state wrestling tournament semifinals.
All nine Baltimore-area defending state champions competing in the tournament moved on to Saturday morning’s semifinals, including South Carroll’s two-time state champions Joey Thomas (126 pounds) and Jamar Williams (170) in the 1A/2A classification.
The Cavaliers, who are looking to win their fourth-straight 1A/2A state tournament title, had eight wrestlers in the tournament and seven are in the final four of their weight class.
Dakota Bowers (113), Travis Crawford (120), Cam Werner (132), Tyler Harbison (138) and Jake MacKenzie (152) join Thomas and Williams in the quest for titles, and South Carroll (73 points) held a nine-point lead over Middletown in the team race after the quarterfinal round.
“We felt like if we wrestled to our potential we could get all eight through today. Getting seven is a great first day,” said Cavaliers coach Bryan Hamper. “We got bonus points a lot of those matches too, so for us to keep up with a team like Middletown we’re going to have to get bonus points from our top guys. We’ve set ourselves up for a good Day 2."
Also in the small schools, Owings Mills defending state champion David Hollingsworth kept his undefeated record intact and picked up two technical-fall victories to advance to the 145-pound semifinals. Tyson McDuffy (126) is also in the semifinals for the Eagles.
Marriotts Ridge senior Chris Spano, who won the 106-pound title last year, is in the 120-pound semifinals and will square off with Crawford for a spot in the finals. Mustangs freshman Will Vaxmonsky (113) is also in the final four.
Perryville’s Eugene Zacerous (170) won a close decision to advance in the bracket that he won a year ago. He will face Kent Island’s Brady Loveless in the semifinals and could see Williams for the championship.
Sparrows Point senior Ethan Smith, who went 33-0 and won a 3A/4A state title at Aberdeen High School last year and is 39-0 this season, dominated his two opponents to move to the 182-pound semifinals. He will see Patterson Mill’s Hunter Crowley for a shot at the finals. Max Hammond (138) also moved on for the Pointers.
In the 3A/4A classification, Bel Air’s Brent Lorin (113), Arundel’s Nathan Gainey (120) and Centennial’s Jason Kraisser (138) — all defending state champions — cruised to the semifinals. Lorin won his 88th straight match to start his high school career and will face Walter Johnson’s Kemper Stearns for a spot in the championship, while Gainey picked up a major decision and pin to advance. Kraisser needed just 2 minutes, 32 seconds to win his two bouts.
A year after having no place-winners, Glenelg was in fifth-place in the big schools with 37 points after pushing four wrestlers into the finals, as Jared Thomas (126), Max Sotka (160), Garrett Murray (170) and Sam Alsheimer (195) all moved on.
Thomas won a major decision and by fall and will face two-time defending state champion Brian Stuart of North Hagerstown in the final four.
Three of Dunbar’s five grapplers in the tournament are in the semifinals, as Avery Thurman (152), Dwyane Johnson (170) and Jorden Pryor (220) scored at least one bonus-point victory to advance in 1A/2A. Western STES has four in the semifinals — Ike Kalu (170), Noah Johnson (195), Edmond Harrison (220) and Chukwudi Kalu (285).
Oakland Mills has two wrestlers in the semifinals, as defending state runners-up Daiquan Anderson (106) and Kyle Farace (132) won by fall in their respective quarterfinal matches. Rising Sun’s Matt Childs is also in the semifinal in Anderson’s bracket.
Century senior Jack Akers improved to 33-0 with two falls to move into the 220-pound semifinals in 1A/2A, and teammate Cody Davis (160) also advanced. Manchester Valley senior Zach McAleer (132) and Westminster’s Garrett Vandervalk (182) are in the semifinals in 3A/4A.
Old Mill regional champion Chase Pennell will face Stephen Decatur’s Andy McKahan in a 145-pound semifinal, and Edgewood’s Ariq Nixon won by major decision to advance to the final four at 152 pounds. C.M. Wright’s Wyatt Graham improved to 43-0 with two pins to move into the semifinals at 195 pounds.
South River’s Zach Osborne (220) and Brendan Woody (285) are in the semifinal round for the Seahawks, as is Mt. Hebron’s Nick Nordhausen (220).