After three dominating semifinal performances from Sparrows Point, Glenelg and Mt. Hebron, all three fell in their respective state finals matches on Saturday at the MPSSAA state dual meet championships at North Point High School.
The Pointers fell in the championship for the second straight year to Southern Garrett, 47-20, in the 1A final, the Gladiators lost to Damascus, 49-16, in the 2A championship in a rematch of last year’s 4A/3A final, and the Vikings dropped the 3A final to Huntingtown, 46-18. Urbana of Frederick County won the 4A title with a 41-27 win against Montgomery County’s Winston Churchill.
Patterson Mill (1A), Owings Mills (2A), Bel Air (3A) and Old Mill (4A) lost in the semifinals.
Previously undefeated Glenelg, the area’s top-ranked public school, entered the year with its sights set on taking down the Hornets and their historic winning streak. The third-seeded Gladiators (22-1) started the tournament off strong, knocking off second-seeded North Caroline, 59-17, in the semifinals, but coach Matt Bichner knew everything needed to go their way to have any chance to defeat five-time defending state champions Damascus.
He made moves to shift his lineup from top to bottom in an effort to gain an advantage anywhere he could, but what transpired was the total opposite.
Nothing went Glenelg’s way and the Hornets piled up one big win after another, eventually building a 49-3 lead after 11 matches in a dominating performance. It’s their 152nd consecutive dual-meet victory, which includes six straight undefeated seasons, each capped by a dual meet state title.
“We knew it would take us wrestling perfect and them having a little bit of an off day,” Bichner said. “We had some matchups that I thought we got ... and we had a lot of close matches. I think the dual meet score doesn’t really reflect how close some of them were, but obviously it’s tough when you lose all those close ones to compete.
“They’re obviously a tough team. Losing to them isn’t terrible.”
Already up 16-3, the Hornets took control of the match starting at 160 pounds. Glenelg senior Max Sotka wrestled at 160 for the first time all season, but Damascus’ John Allan Furgeson beat last year’s state finalist, 5-1. Timothy Furgeson followed with a 5-2 victory at 170 against Gladiators junior Jacob Jones, the state’s top-ranked 1A/2A wrestler at 160 pounds, and Ben Lokos won a 3-2 overtime decision at 182 against Sam Alsheimer, who placed fourth at the state tournament last season for Glenelg.
Those victories pushed the lead to 25-3, and the Hornets followed with four straight pins to turn the match into a rout. Coach John Furgeson said “without a doubt” this was the best his team wrestled all season.
“It started with the coin flip. We were surprised they dropped some guys; that really threw us for a loop,” he said. “We had to re-strategize our lineup, but at the end of the day we just went out and there and wrestled and answered the bell. It was really impressive.”
As well as third-seeded Mt. Hebron (23-4) fared in its 42-30 victory over second-seeded Bel Air (31-1) in its 3A semifinal, it fell just as flat against top-seeded Huntingtown in the championship match.
The Vikings won three straight bouts at 220, heavyweight and 106 to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to three, 21-18, but they failed to win any of the last six bouts to fall in their first state duals appearance since winning the 4A/3A state title in 2002.
“I definitely credit them. They’re a tough team and they came out ready to wrestle,” Mt. Hebron coach Dan Harman said. “A couple of things could’ve gone our way that didn’t.”
Even during their three-match winning streak, the Vikings struggled to score enough bonus points to keep the pressure on. Ali Pender (152) and Cassy Lopez (106) both secured pins by Isa Pender (220) and Nick Nordhausen (heavyweight) only managed to win by decision.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, finished with five falls and 10 overall victories to win their first-ever state championship after falling in the semifinals in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“With the new format, we thought this could be the year we were able to prevail because we didn’t have Damascus staring us in the face,” Huntingtown coach Steve Gilligan said. “I knew Mt. Hebron was tough. I was talking to my assistant coaches for weeks and we were like, it’s going to be Hebron, it’s going to be Hebron. ... We knew were going to be in for a tough match. I told my guys if we wrestle our A-game, we should be fine, but anything but our A-game we could be in trouble.”
Sparrows Point (27-4) was competing in the state duals tournament for the third time in four years and advanced to the 1A final with a 57-18 win against Lackey, but the top-seeded Pointers were blown out in the championship match for the second straight season.
Second-seeded Southern Garrett won eight matches compared to Sparrows Points’ six, but the difference came in the bonus points. All eight of the Rams’ victories came via fall or forfeit, while the Pointers had four.
It’s the second state championship for Southern Garrett and first since winning the 1A/2A title in 2009.
“A few weight classes didn’t go our way. We wrestled hard; it wasn’t for a lack of effort. We just didn’t wrestle well today,” Sparrows Point coach Mike Whisner said. “They were solid one through 14 and they just kept coming at us, coming at us, and we didn’t have all the answers.”Also in the 1A tournament, third-seeded Patterson Mill (10-6) made its first-ever trip to the state duals but lost 11 straight matches to Southern Garrett after Huskies 220-pounder Sami Lameche won an overtime decision to kickoff the dual.
The Rams picked up six falls, an injury default and a forfeit during that stretch to build a 58-3 lead en route to a 58-15 victory.
Griffin Almes (182) and Hunter Crowley (195) earned forfeits for Patterson Mill to close out the match. Huskies coach Ryan Arist said he was proud of the way his team competed despite the lopsided score.
“I’m actually more than pleased with my kids,” he said. “We have a young team and we knew that coming into it. We pulled off a big win last week over Perryville, a team that beat us earlier in the year, so our team is improving every week. We have some young guys in the lineup and a couple JV kids in the lineup who have stepped up. I’m more than happy; I know Southern is a great team.”
Owings Mills ran into a juggernaut of its own — Damascus — in a 2A semifinal. The fourth-seeded Eagles hung tough with Hornets early and even led 6-3 after Phil Smith, the state’s top-ranked 120-pounder, bumped up to 126 to defeat state-place winner Johnny McLaughlin, 12-5, and Tyson McDuffy won a 2-0 decision at 138.
From there, however, Damascus did what they have done all season long and dominated. Nine straight Hornets victories, including six pins and two major decisions, turned into 50 unanswered points and eventually a 50-18 victory.
Alex DuFour won by fall at 113 and Damen Tiller won by forfeit at 120 for the Eagles, who were making their first trip to the final four since 2013.
“I never expect to lose, but they haven’t given up more than 18 points all season. We thought we’d be able to — if everything went right — to give them a run, but we knew it was going to be an uphill climb,” said Owings Mills coach Shawn Girch. “The kids wrestled well, it’s just that a few mistakes are capitalized on when you have a good team like that on the other end.”
Bel Air entered the tournament as one of two undefeated teams alongside Damascus, but things quickly unraveled for the Bobcats in the 3A semifinal against Mt. Hebron. The Vikings jumped out to a 27-0 lead with four pins and a decision by Ali Pender against Liam Bowers at 152 pounds and never looked back.
The advantage ballooned to 30 after Nordhausen won by fall at heavyweight and Mt. Hebron forfeited two of the final three matches in a 42-30 victory.
“I wouldn’t say that’s what I expected but I’m not surprised,” Bel Air coach Craig Reddish said. “They are well-coached, they wrestle hard and they’re in great shape, so win or loss their kids came out and were very physical and I felt like our kids didn’t quite match that intensity. We had some matches that I think we left out there; some matches where our kids beat their guys last year, so the credit goes to their kids.”
It was the Bobcats’ second appearance at the state duals tournament and first since winning the 1A/2A state championship in 2010.
In 4A, third-seeded Old Mill (17-2) fell flat in its semifinal against second-seeded Urbana. The Patriots lost the first seven bouts and nine of the first 10 with its only win in that span being a decision from Jason Smith at 182 pounds. The Hawks scored the first 32 points of the dual and closed the match with a forfeit and two pins en route to a 57-9 win.
“We just got our tails handed to us,” Old Mill coach Jim Grim said. “They’re a tough team and I think they’re the best team in the state.
“I’m proud of our guys. They never gave up and kept fighting. Our season is not over yet, but as far as our team stuff we have a lot to be proud of.”