A year ago, the River Hill wrestling team had what coach Brandon Lauer called "an unprecedented meltdown" in the 4A-3A East regional finals. This year, the Hawks were determined not to let it happen again.
"Coach told us we could win," sophomore Corey Daniel said after collecting his regional championship certificate at 160 pounds. "Our coach said it, so we knew we could. It feels great. For me, it felt great to get that pin in the second period. I've never won the region title before, never, never."
No. 7 River Hill scored 155 points at Wilde Lake, nearly twice that of second-place finisher No. 10 Meade (84.5). It was the second week in a row River Hill has exploded on the mat. At the Howard County tournament, it broke a 44-year-old county record by recording 264.5 points.
"We knew River Hill would be the beast," Meade coach Chad Vosburg said. "We knew after Friday night that we were wrestling for second. But we won our county [Anne Arundel] for the first time in our history last week, and for us to take second here is really good."
Arundel finished third with 80.0 points, followed by No. 15 North County (78.5) and Broadneck (74.0).
While River Hill had quite a night in winning a regional crown for the first time since 2009, it didn't take all the individual championships.
Chesapeake-AA's Jeremy Morrow (106) won with a major decision, and Wilde Lake's Alex Polonsky (113) came out fast and won with a pin. Broadneck freshman Cameron Harrell, the No. 1 seed at 120, shut out his opponent, 5-0.
Centennial's Nathan Kraisser (126), the senior who is one of two public school wrestlers going for a rare fourth state title, methodically worked his way to a 17-1 technical fall just as the second period was about to end.
Oakland Mills senior Tony Farace (120), who is also going for a fourth state crown, won his regional title in the 2A-1A South final at Marriotts Ridge on Saturday.
Arundel's Tyler Goodwin continued his drive toward a second state title Saturday with a 16-1 technical fall at 132. Goodwin literally leaped like a frog to get around his Bel Air opponent early in the third period to end the match. Chesapeake's Alex Rice (145), Bel Air's William Holden-Moore (170), North County's Brandon Ballard (195), River Hill's Jacob Benedict (220) and North County's Lorenzo Madden (285) won by decision.
At 138, Reservoir's Sam Rowell produced one of five pins in the finals, joining River Hill's Cory Daniel (160) and Omar Messallam (182) and Polonky. But the match and pin that brought the loudest cheers and created the most suspense were at 152, when Meade's Lance Alderman played a brave game against River Hill's Jack Noonan.
Alderman came from behind to tie with 42 seconds left in the match but let his opponent go, giving away a point in hopes of getting a takedown in the closing seconds to win. He did that, but there was an escape and another takedown, too, and the two tied at 10. In overtime, Alderman got the pin with 7.8 seconds left.
"I was pretty confident in my moves," said Alderman, a senior who won his first regional title.