Pins stole the spotlight on center mat at Dulaney High as 11 of the 14 wrestling matches ended with a mat slap and the host Lions (10-4) earned a majority of them and cruised to a 51-24 victory over Kenwood (5-3) on Thursday night.
The Bluebirds got on the board first when undefeated 106-pounder Ricky Figueroa (8-0) stopped Luis Ruano with a fall, just 29 seconds into the match for a 6-0 lead.
Dulaney sophomore Evan Cantemiry ignited the Lions with a 10-4 decision over Sulyvan Esparza.
At 120, Philip Bramucci gave the Lions a 9-6 lead with a third-period pin (4:57) over Jalen DeMauri and they would never relinquish it.
“He’s definitely got the moves and the strength and he just needs to get more confidence,” said Dulaney coach Scott Asher, noting Bramucci improved to 11-2 with the victory. “I think as the match goes on, he gets more confident and that’s why he does so well.”
One grappler not lacking confidence is senior Destiny Benjamin (11-3), who earned a fall (3:33) over Brooke Markell.
It was a rare meeting against another girl during the high school season and her first such matchup this year.
“I rarely see girls until states,” said the co-captain with Bramucci. “Usually, when I wrestle against girls in Maryland, I just dominate, the real competition is at the national level.”
Asher noted she is a seven-time Maryland state champion.
Benjamin also competed over the summer on the national level in Fargo, SD.
“I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to, but then I made up for it at a New Jersey national tournament,” she said. “I placed fifth there and took second in my weight class.”
She was also sixth, wrestling at 139 pounds, in a pre-season national tournament in North Carolina called the Super 32.
At Dulaney, she likes wrestling on the heels of Bramucci.
“Definitely when he wins, it pumps me up because he’s another captain alongside me, it just gets me going, but say if we are down and he comes up big, it motivates me to come up big to help the team out,” she said.
After her victory, she watched the Lions collect back-to-back two-point decisions from sophomore Ephrem Fitzsimmons (132) and his freshman brother James Fitzsimmons (138), extending the Lions’ lead to 21-6.
Kenwood’s Daylan Duncan got an instant 14-second pin at 145, before Dulaney’s Sam Bloch (152) and Noah Dow (160) got first-period pins and Zavion Woodard counted out Francis Bell (171) for an insurmountable 39-12 lead.
Bloch, a transfer from Iowa, improved to 13-0 for the Lions.
He has 10 pins, two technical falls and a forfeit.
“He’s almost a guaranteed six every time he gets out there,” Asher said.
The final four matches were split with first-period pins. Charles Huntley (5-0) and Kevin Aguilar got them for Kenwood at 182 and 220 and Tyren Hamilton (195, 12-1)) and Nick Schiefelbein (285) won quickly for Dulaney.
“They started getting pins and they got motivation,” Kenwood coach Will Richter said. “Our team came out flat and they came out ready to go.”
Kenwood came into the match having beat Dundalk, while the Lions lost to the Owls.
“We didn’t wrestle well overall (against Dundalk) and they took it to us and beat us, so we wanted to make a statement tonight, knowing that Dundalk was a fluke match and this is how we really wrestle,” Asher said.
The Lions improved to 3-3 in dual meets and were 7-1 at the Joppatowne Duals with the only loss coming to unbeaten Hammond (22-0).
Benjamin is eager to see more improvement as the season develops.
“We are not the same team as last year,” she said. “We have a bunch of athletic guys and we are still improving on technique and everything, but everything is finally starting to flow together to the point where once our guys get you down, you are not coming back up.”