State wrestling championships

Nathan Kraisser of Centennial raises his hand in victory after defeating Collin Alley of South River in the 126-pound final. It was Kraisser's fourth career individual state championship. (Brian Krista, Patuxent Publishing / March 3, 2012)

River Hill's heavyweight Jason Johnson looked like a jumping jack as he hopped around the mat at the end of his championship match. The senior was exuberant, punching his hands in the air with both index fingers pointing to the sky.

He had just earned a 3-2 victory to win his first Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association title at Cole Field House, and No. 6 River Hill (91 points) had clinched the Class 4A-3A team title for the first time in school history, defeating runner-up Perry Hall (82).

Johnson then took a running leap into the air, landing in the outstretched arms of coach Brandon Lauer, who was a three-time individual champion as a wrestler but never the member of a title-winning team.


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"The team winning means as much to me if not more than me winning," Johnson said after catching his breath. "I worked so hard for this. I went to train with the national team in Fargo, [N.D.,last year]. I worked in the wrestling room every day since the end of football season. This was my goal."

No. 2 Winters Mill's goal was to repeat as the Class 2A-1A champion and complete a perfect season. Before the finals even started, the Falcons had achieved that. Winters Mill, 32-0 through the regular season and state dual meet championship, completes an incredible run having also snagged Carroll County, West region and state tournament titles.

The Falcons (115 points) outdistanced Parkside (92) and are the first Carroll County team to win both the state team and dual tournament titles in the same season.

"I'm kind of blown away by how well we've done," Winters Mill coach John Lowe said. "We put [4A-3A] teams on our schedule this season, and it has toughened us. To have seven of our eight guys place is amazing. But I take Lipitor. My heart will be OK."

Centennial's Nathan Kraisser also reached perfection Saturday night, becoming only the fifth high school wrestler in state history to win four titles in a high school career. Kraisser earned a major decision, 14-4, over South River's Collin Alley in the 4A-3A 126-pound final.

After winning, Kraisser did a black flip and came up smiling.

"It's a great feeling to win the fourth and I'm really excited," Kraisser said after completing his state tournament career by never winning by less than a major decision. "It's an honor to be with the other four four-time winners."

Kraisser joins a club that includes Matt Slutzky (Aberdeen, 1989-92), Steve Kessler (Owings Mills, 1994-97) Josh Asper (Hereford, 2005-08) and George Scheffel (Southern-Garrett, 2007-10).

"I'm happy with it," Kraisser said. "But I'm ready to move on to the international and college competition."

Before he does, the North Carolina-bound Kraisser (36-3) said he'll take part in the Maryland State Wrestling Association Senior All-Star meet Tuesday at McDaniel.

Oakland Mills senior Tony Farace, who was also trying to become a four-time state winner, lost in the 2A-1A 120-pound semifinals to Western tech sophomore Tejon Anthony, 5-4.

Farace (37-2) recovered to take third place with a 45 second pin of Century's Sean Donoghue, who had come in to the tournament as the No. 1 seed.

Anthony, meanwhile, made the most of his upset victory and won the 120-pound title with a 7-0 decision. The victory made him Western's first state champion. He is also the school's first regional champ and only its second county champ.

"Wrestling a three-time state champion should make you a little nervous," Anthony said. "All I did was wrestle my best. I stayed with my game plan and won. Once I got to the final, I didn't care how I got it done, I just wanted to win.

"I think my winning opens the doors for other kids at my school to try to wrestle. We're always forfeiting weight classes. Maybe this will encourage other kids to come out for the team, because this championship proves a Western kid can go to states and win."

LaPlata's Josh Llopez (152), Chesapeake's Alex Rice (145), Winston Churchill's Hunter Sutton (138), and Arundel's Tyler Goodwin (132) each won their second titles in 4A-3A.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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