It was a lot of pressure for anyone, but South Carroll senior Joey Thomas wanted it and he went out and handled it.
Thomas captured his fourth county championship with a pin over Francis Scott Key’s Dontae Smith in 5:33 at 126 pounds to help the Cavaliers to their third straight team title at Westminster High Saturday night.
South Carroll (183.50 points) won the event in convincing fashion, beating out runner-up Winters Mill (143) and Century (124).
The Cavaliers sent eight wrestlers to the finals and seven won championships, including Thomas (41-1), Jagger Clapsadle (106, 40-2), Dakota Bowers (113, 39-3), Travis Crawford (120, 42-0), Tyler Harbison (138, 36-5), Jake MacKenzie (152, 39-3), Jamar Williams (170, 42-0).
“The guys are wrestling the best when it means the most,” South Carroll coach Bryan Hamper said. “Carroll County wrestling is fantastic. To have seven champions and win the tournament by 40 points is making a statement.”
In four years at South Carroll, Thomas, a two-time state champion who won his other county titles at 106 and 113 pounds, has faced some of the fiercest wrestlers in Maryland.
And to have lost only five times during that span is a laudable feat.
Thomas is the state’s all-time leader in wins among public school wrestlers with 188.
Thomas will wrestle next season at the University of Pittsburgh on a scholarship.
“He’s wrestled for national titles and All-American status,” Hamper said. “Nothing ever mentally gets him out of his game. We call him ‘Smooth Joey T' because had that calm demeanor every time he walked out onto the mat.’”
Thomas was honored at the end of the county championships and received a standing ovation.
“It felt great to be only one of 10 wrestlers to be a four-time county champion,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ teammate, Williams, won his third county title with a pin of Francis Scott Key’s Nate Imes in 3:37.
Williams, a two-time state champion, recorded his 38th pin of the season and he now owns a career record of 130-3.
“It’s a great honor to win three in a row,” Williams said. “But I really want to win a third state title.”
MacKenzie, a senior, secured his second straight county title with a 9-4 decision over Liberty’s Jake Griffin. MacKenzie registered a second-period pin of Trevor Fawley in the semifinals.
Westminster senior heavyweight Jaime Rodriguez (41-1) also won his second county championship.
He decked Century senior Sam Rothstein (28-1) in 3:04.
Rodriguez beat Rothstein, 2-1, in the county final last year at 220, but this title probably means more to him since he came back from a 6-0 deficit and won his 100th career match.
“It’s a big dream,” Rodriguez said of winning his 100th match and second county title at the same time. “It’s definitely something special.
“Not many people will fight back and keep going,” he added. “A lot of people would just give up.”
Manchester Valley’s Zach McAleer (132, 32-5), Winters Mill’s Troy Blessing (145, 33-5), Century’s Cody Davis (160, 30-2), Wesminster’s Garrett Vandervalk (182, 36-6), Francis Scott Key’s Brett Rinehart (195, 29-4), and Century’s Jack Akers (220, 28-0) also won county titles.
132: Zach McAleer (MV) pin Cam Werner (SC) 1:21.
138: Tyler Harbison (SC) dec. Brad Walsh (W) 6-3.
145: Troy Blessing (WM) m. dec. Tyler Watkins (W) 10-0.
152: Jake MacKenzie (SC) dec Jake Griffin (L) 8-4.
160: Cody Davis (C) pin Evan Biden (L) 4:24.
170: Jamar Williams (SC) pin Nate Imes (FSK) 3:37.
182: Garrett Vandervalk (W) pin Hunter Lowe (WM) 1:47.
195: Brett Rinehart (FSK) pin Thomas Morey (C) 0:46.
220: Jack Akers (C) pin Harrison Walsh (MV) 3:56.
285: Jaime Rodriguez (W) pin Sam Rothstein (C) 3:04.
106: Jagger Clapsadle (SC) pin Jake Gaskin (L) 1:16.
113: Dakota Bowers (SC) pin Zach King (WM) 1:14.
120: Travis Crawford (SC) t-fall Brenden Cline (C) 15-0.
126: Joey Thomas (SC) pin Dontae Smith (FSK) 5:33.