Entering the last day of competition at the USA Wrestling Junior & Cadet National Championships in Fargo, N.D., Team Maryland was in excellent position to break its record for All-Americans (21) set last year.
At that point, Team Maryland had 17 All-Americans (top-8 in a weight class), and 10 more wrestlers would compete for All-American status.
But there was one bug. A cold virus spread among the team on the last few days of the tournament, and all 10 of thise wrestlers still competing for All-American honors got sick. Though none of the 10 wrestlers won, leaving the state's All-American count at 17, Maryland State Wrestling Association chairman and head coach Jay LaValley was still happy with how the team fared during the week-long event.
“We came up a little bit short of what we wanted to achieve, but I was happy,” LaValley said. “I wasn’t completely satisfied, but I was happy with the results based on where the kids were in their mindset and their training. It was tough to see, but I think the kids getting sick had a little bit to do with it.”
Aside from the bump at the end of the tournament, Team Maryland saw some great individual and team successes at the event. In his first trip to Fargo, John Carroll rising junior Hunter Ritter was one of two double All-Americans for Maryland, as he was the national champion in the 182-pound Cadet Greco class while finishing third in the Cadet freestyle class.
The other double All-American — Austin Kraisser — impressed LaValley with his charge to the finals of the 152-pound Cadet freestyle class.
“Hunter Ritter rally stood out,” LaValley said. “He was just short of being a double champion — ended up taking 3rd in freestyle — and he showed how good he is at Greco despite him not even liking Greco. I keep emphasizing it’s good to have this background to be a better overall wrestler, and he’s slowly agreeing with me.”
The de facto captain for Team Maryland and Archbishop Spalding rising senior Logan Breitenbach received his first All-American honor, placing fourth in the 152-pound junior Cadet class and Mount St. Joseph’s Dan Hawkins was an All-American for the second consecutive year in the 182-pound junior Greco class, placing second and falling just short of a national championship.
In addition to the individual successes, the Maryland junior Greco team placed fifth overall at the tournament, up from eighth just a year ago. LaValley said the team’s mindset and hard work over the course of the training camps before the tournament was the reason for the successes in Fargo.
“That was by far the highest placing ever by a Maryland team,” LaValley said. “We were fifth out of 47 states that were represented. We were behind California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and those four states are huge relative to Maryland. Representative to geographic area, we’re doing pretty damn good against big states. That was probably the biggest highlight for me.”
Name School Wt. Class Place
Joe Thomas Warhawks Wrestling 88 8th Cadet FS
Marty Margolis La Plata 126 7th Cadet Greco
Cameron Harrell Broadneck 138 4th Cadet FS
Hunter Ritter John Carroll 182 Nat’l Champ Cadet Greco; 3rd Cadet FS
Austin Kraisser Centennial 152 4th Cadet Greco; 2nd Cadet FS
Chris Almony John Carroll 152 5th Cadet Greco
Mike Smith McDonogh 220 2nd Cadet FS
Olivia Devine North County 143 3rd Women’s Cadet FS
Adam Whitesell Good Counsel 113 7th Jr Greco
Ryan Friedman St. Paul’s 113 6th Jr Greco
Jack Mutchnik St. Paul’s 132 4th Jr Greco
Logan Breitenbach Archbishop Spalding 152 4th Jr Greco
Troy Murtha Georgetown Prep 182 7th Jr Greco Dan Hawkins Mount St. Joseph 182 2nd Jr Greco
Cory Daniels River Hill 220 3rd Jr Greco