Catonsville’s sixth straight dual meet triumph on Jan. 16 was bittersweet for the entire Comets wrestling program and fans.
The 42-27 victory over Perry Hall ended pre-maturely after Catonsville senior tri-captain Michael Bowers (160 pounds) suffered an elbow dislocation that left his left arm immobilized on the center of the mat.
He is out for the season and will be evaluated in a few weeks.
Perry Hall’s Joseph Young was awarded a win by injury default, and the final match of the night, scheduled between Catonsville’ Brandon Hull and Perry Hall’s Isiah Billy, was ruled a double forfeit as Bowers was taken away by ambulance.
Bowers, a standout linebacker on the football team, is a tri-captain on the wrestling team, along with Ewan Hemmis and Tye Perry, both who won with pins against Perry Hall.
“He (Bowers) is one of our best wrestlers,” Catonsville coach Eric Warm said. “He, Ewan and Tye are the leaders of this team every day, so it’s a big loss to lose a guy of that caliber, with his work ethic in the room.”
Bowers, who finished third in a tournament in the New Year’s Brawl at Easton High over the weekend, where the Comets were fourth, is also a role model.
“The younger kids look up to him, it’s a big loss when something like that happens, especially to one of your top guys,” Warm said.
Getting their sixth straight win since a season-opening loss to Owings Mills wasn’t easy because they had to come back from an early 12-3 deficit after pins by Perry Hall’s Dimitri Koutsantonis (182) and Jeremy Kreiger (220) sandwiched a 6-2 decision by Catonsville’s Grant Nyland (195).
Senior Mateen Kareem (285) accepted a forfeit to pull the Comets within three, 12-9 and a pin by sophomore Josh Sampson (106) gave them a lead, 15-12, and they would never relinquish it.
But the Gators did make it interesting after Catonsville’s Danny Perez-Herenandez (113) won by forfeit, pushing the lead to 21-12.
Damen Tiller (120) scored a major decision over Mason Ritter and Connor Meadows (126) survived a hard-fought 13-9 decision over Ismael Diaz, making it 21-19.
That left it up to senior Ewan Hemmis (132) to get it back on track and the senior, who just notched his 100th career victory in a tournament at Easton over the weekend, did just that.
Hemmis scored a takedown 47 seconds into the match against Perry Hall’s Avante Hughley, but Hughley got an escape while tilted sideways with what look like a chance to get the reversal.
Hemmis had other ideas.
“He just clamped on my elbow and rolled,” Hemmis said. “I just kept my hips up, kept my head in there, didn’t panic and just stayed in the game.”
He added a takedown with three seconds left in the first period for a 4-1 lead and finished his 103rd career victory with a fall 24 seconds into the second period.
“I hit a sharp two-ankle pick, got a nice takedown and in the second period hit the switch and just pinned him,” said Hemmis, who has loftier goals then 100 victories.
“I had two goals at the beginning of the year — I wanted to get 116 wins, that would put me second in my school’s history and I want to place at states, that’s my goal,” Hemmis said. “Freshman year, I made it to states, sophomore and junior year I missed it, but I worked real hard this summer and I want to come back. I want to place at states this year, top six.”
No matter what happens the rest of the way, he’ll always remember the historic 100th win against a grappler from St. Michaels.
“I was definitely thinking about it (100 wins) when I was going out there,” Hemmis said. “I took a shot, I took him down, got, I think it was a bar and just ran it and put him to his back and pinned him in the first period. I came out and the whole team was there and I was happy, it was a good time.”
Against Perry Hall, his triumph was the first of four straight for the Comets that put the match away.
Sophomore Tomas Grap (138) won a 15-10 decision and Eric Grap (145) won with a first-period pin and Perry (152) captured a third-period pin.
“All those matches were real hard-fought matches and they all wrestled really well,” said Warm, who had a message for his team after the match. “I told them this was a game-changer with Michael, but I was actually quite pleased with the way we wrestled as a whole today.”
182 Dimitri Koutsantonis (PH) fall Ethan Shifflett (C), 1:40
195 Grant Nyland (C) dec. Zdzerio (PH), 6-2
220 Jeremy Kreiger (PH) fall (C) Querell Montague, 4:42
285 Mateen Kareem (C) won by forfeit
106 Josh Sampson (C) fall Victoria Willick (PH), 1:23
113 Danny Perez-Herenandez (C) won by forfeit
120 Damen Tiller (PH) maj. dec. Mason Ritter (C), 9-1
126 Connor Meadows (PH) dec. Ismael Diaz (C), 13-9
132 Ewan Hemmis (C) fall Avante Hughley (PH), 2:24
138 Tomas Grap (C) dec. James Demonte (PH), 15-10
145 Eric Grap (C) fall Michael Brockington (PH), 1:12
152 Tye Perry (C) fall Caleb Sistrunk (PH), 5:05
160 Joseph Young (PH) won by injury default over Mike Bowers (C)
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171 Isaiah Billy (PH) and Brandon Hull (C), double forfeit, match was called after injury to Bowers