The Glenelg wrestling team entered the 2A South region duals having won two consecutive regional titles, but the Gladiators appeared to be in danger of falling to Hammond in the semifinal bout on Thursday night.
The teams traded pins throughout the bout, but the latest fall came from Tyler Williams in 21 seconds of the 145-pound match. The result brought the Golden Bears even with the Gladiators at 30. Only three matches remained.
But as quickly as Hammond was able to draw even, Glenelg sealed the victory minutes later. First came a pin from 152-pound Drew Sotka in 1:46, followed by Jacob Jones’ pin at 1:33 in the 160-pound bout. The top-seeded Gladiators elected to wrestle the 170-pound match with a junior varsity wrestler, who lost by fall, but they still were able to celebrate a 42-36 victory over a league competitor and advance to the finals against No. 2-seed La Plata.
Coach Matt Bichner thought his team matched up better with the Warriors because “we haven’t seen them in a while,” and the 49-26 triumph backed up that claim.
The Gladiators have now won three straight regional dual titles, the first two coming at the 3A/4A East region duals and the latest occurring in the 2A South region dual in their home gym on Thursday night.
“We came out pretty slow against Hammond,” said Sotka, who pinned his two opponents in a combined 3:10. “When we went up against La Plata, we were more energized and I feel like we wanted it more that match. And I mean we had to beat them to achieve our goal of winning states.”
Glenelg will return to the state semifinals for the third time in as many years when it travels to North Point on Saturday to compete with North Caroline (2A East), Owings Mills (2A North) and Damascus (2A West). Last season, the Gladiators suffered a 47-18 in the 3A/4A state dual finals to Damascus, which has won the past five state dual championships and more than 140 straight dual meets overall.
But Sotka and Bichner both believe this team has the pieces to snap the Swarmin' Hornets’ three-digit winning streak.
“I have a lot of confidence in our guys,” Bichner said. “They work hard. I think they work harder than anyone in the state. It’s going to take our full good day to knock them off, but I think we have the team that can do it.”
But before Glenelg could even think about knocking off Damascus, it had to figure out a way to beat a motivated Hammond team that was making its first regional duals appearance since 2011. Golden Bears wrestlers pinned four of their opponents and beat six Gladiators overall as the bout played out much like when the two teams faced off on Jan. 9. Glenelg won that dual, 36-33.
On Thursday, with the match starting at 182 pounds, Hammond was able to secure a few early wins and build some momentum entering the lower weights. But there — coach Will Yeo pointed to matches at 113, 120 and 138 pounds — his wrestlers competed but could not avoid getting pinned. Those matches gave the Gladiators necessary bonus points they would build off of once more of their top wrestlers, such as Sotka and Jones, took the mat at the end of the dual.
After the loss, Yeo said he was proud of his team’s performance and believes this experience will be crucial for the program going forward.
“There were some matches where we were up and we ended up getting pinned,” Yeo said. “And it’s not because they weren’t working. We just have a lack of experience, and we do a lot of work in the offseason to try and catch up, but it’s a catching up game. And we’re almost there, so that’s encouraging.”
In the other semifinal, Marriotts Ridge was making its first regional dual appearance since 2016 when it suffered a 50-27 loss to La Plata. The Mustangs again faced off against the Warriors, and while the result wasn’t as lopsided this time around, coach Jason Conley thought his group looked “flat” and “out of shape” in their 42-33 loss on Thursday night.
The teams traded pins for the first six matches, and after La Plata secured a tech fall at 120 pounds, Ethan Bohan pinned his opponent in less than a minute to put Marriotts Ridge back in front, 24-23.
But the match unraveled from there for the Mustangs, starting when they had to forfeit at 138 pounds after their wrestler suffered an injury in the middle of the match.
With a comfortable lead, La Plata then won bouts by major decision and pin to put the dual out of reach.
“Being off Monday and Wednesday definitely didn’t help,” Conley said. “Just clearly, we looked out of shape, and they didn’t. They looked like they were ready, and we came up short.”
Finals: Glenelg (21-0) — 49, La Plata — 26
195: Sam Alsheimer (G) pinned Chase Altizer (LP), 0:34 [6-0]
220: Robbie Baxter (G) pinned Quentin Dibble (LP), 1:52 [12-0]
285: Colton Sciascia (LP) pinned Charlie Whitsett (G), 3:58 [12-6]
106: Andres Lopez-Campos (G) pinned Brandon Lee (LP), 0:47 [18-6]
113: Logan Gwin (G) pinned Austin Mattingly (LP), 1:07 [24-6]
120: Owen Butler (LP) major dec. Reed Kraemer (G), 14-6 [24-10]
126: Kevin Hansberger (G) major dec. Josh Roberts (LP), 9-0 [28-10]
132: Jared Thomas (G) dec. Marco Frederico (LP), 10-8 [31-10]
138: Alex Blake (LP) tech fall Ian Gwin (G), 20-5 [31-15]
145: Mike Bellerose (LP) tech fall Jake Durkin, 17-1 [31-20]
152: Drew Sotka (G) pinned Jack Chipps (LP), 1:46 [37-20]
160: Jacob Jones (G) pinned David Hayes (LP), 1:33 [43-20]
170: Ethan Mackey (G) pinned Jake Szalapski (LP), 3:35 [49-20]
182: Nate Lednum (LP) fft. [49-26]
Semifinals: Glenelg — 42, Hammond (32-6) — 36
182: Sam Alsheimer (G) pinned Isaiah Lindsay (Ha), 1:48 [6-0]
195: Tyler Walters (Ha) pinned Jake Arnone (G), 3:36 [6-6]
220: Donald St. Aubin (Ha) fft. [6-12]
285: Justin Andrews (Ha) dec. Robbie Baxter (G), 4-3 [6-15]
106: Shezhan Dahya (Ha) dec. Andres Lopez-Campos (G), 9-4 [6-18]
113: Logan Gwin (G) pinned Kenneth Rios (Ha), 2:37 [12-18]
120: Kevin Hansberger (G) pinned Bryan Rios (Ha), 2:27 [18-18]
126: John Lian (Ha) pinned Reed Kraemer (G), 4:49 [18-24]
132: Jared Thomas (G) pinned Nashawn Callands (Ha), 1:31 [24-24]
138: Ian Gwin (G) pinned Micah Nowlin (Ha), 3:12 [30-24]
145: Tyler Williams (Ha) pinned Jake Durkin (G), 0:21 [30-30]
152: Drew Sotka (G) pinned Shamar Laing (Ha), 1:24 [36-30]
160: Jacob Jones (G) pinned Kevin Childress (Ha), 1:08 [42-30]
172: Jordan Davis (Ha) pinned Ethan Mackey (G), 1:59 [42-36]
Semifinals: La Plata — 42, Marriotts Ridge (18-6) — 33
182: Jason Mohler (LP) pinned Stephen Alam (MR), 4:48 [6-0]
195: Austin Cestone (MR) pinned Chase Altizer (LP), 1:12 [6-6]
220: Jack Baxter (MR) pinned Eric Ward (LP), 4:23 [6-12]
285: Colton Sciascia (LP) pinned Tyler Vandenburge (MR), 2:53 [12-12]
106: Austin Manwiller (MR) pinned Brandon Lee (LP), 0:40 [12-18]
113: Brandon Lee (LP) pinned Joshua Wright (MR), 1:17 [18-18]
120: Owen Butler (LP) tech fall Brendan Glover (MR), 16-0 [23-18]
126: Ethan Bohan (MR) pinned Josh Roberts (LP), 0:53 [23-24]
132: Marco Frederico (LP) dec. Brett Gladstone (MR), 7-3 [26-24]
138: Alex Blake (LP) injury fft. Will Vaxmonsky (MR) [32-24]
145: Mike Bellerose (LP) major dec. Jake Fratta, 20-7 (MR) [36-24]
152: Jack Chipps (LP) pinned Ryan Reeling (MR), 3:09 [42-24]
160: Justin Hooper (MR) dec. Jake Szalapski (LP), 13-8 [42-27]
172: Colin McMurtray (MR) fft. [42-33]
Reach Kyle Stackpole at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @kylefstackpole