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Seniors enjoy unique ceremony before Liberty wrestling tops Century

Anthony Marsico and his four fellow Liberty High School senior teammates were recognized ahead of Thursday’s Carroll County Athletic League dual between the Lions and visiting Century.

It wasn’t the ceremony Marsico said he dreamed about when he first started competing at the varsity level, but the Lions’ 160-pounder accepted whatever brief accolades he and his mates received. Then he went out on the mat and posted a first-period pin en route to Liberty’s 55-12 victory.

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Marsico even got a chance while recording his pin to smile for the live-streaming video camera perched along the wall inside the gymnasium for those were following along on the internet.

Liberty (2-3) was set to host Francis Scott Key and Century on Thursday, but the Eagles opted not to compete because their lineup was thin. The Knights (1-5) were also dealing with depth issues and had to give up a pair of forfeits (two weight classes had double forfeits as well) in defeat.

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The shuffling did little to ruin Senior Night for Marsico, Luis Lopez, Ethan Plummer, Justin Richardson, and Jimmy Sleptzoff.

Liberty's Ryan Ohler tries to pin the shoulders of Century's Brian Fuentes in the 152 weight class during a wrestling match at Liberty High School on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.
Liberty's Ryan Ohler tries to pin the shoulders of Century's Brian Fuentes in the 152 weight class during a wrestling match at Liberty High School on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

“It was a lot of fun,” said Marsico, who improved to 5-0 with his individual victory. “It obviously wasn’t the season I had envisioned, just with my whole life wrestling. But ... I’m so thankful just for the opportunity to wrestle this year. Thankful for my coaches, thankful for my teammates for pushing me.”

All five seniors got matches Thursday night, something coach Joe Zaccagnini said was important for his team’s veterans. And all five wrestlers picked up wins — Lopez posted a major decision at 145, Marsico had his pin, Plummer (170) and Richardson (182) won by forfeit, and Sleptzoff won by decision at 195.

Century's Jake Hurst puts Liberty's Liam Conner onto his back as his tries for a pin in the 120 weight class during a wrestling match at Liberty High School on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.
Century's Jake Hurst puts Liberty's Liam Conner onto his back as his tries for a pin in the 120 weight class during a wrestling match at Liberty High School on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Century had five seniors recognized before the match as well in Bryce Ferguson, Carson Fitzgerald, Brian Fuentes, Hunter Harris, and Ben Johnston. Fitzgerald won by forfeit and Jake Hurst had a pin at 126, but coach Steve Willingham said being undermanned at the start proved costly.

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“Two kids don’t make weight, two kids come to me [Wednesday] and say they’re not feeling good,” Willingham said. “Not because of COVID, but injuries. It was tough from the get-go.”

Century and Liberty were both on pause earlier during the winter because of the coronavirus, but the southern Carroll rivals now turn their focus on next week’s county tournament at Westminster High School. Willingham said the Knights’ upperclassmen want to finish strong.

Zaccagnini said the same about his bunch.

“We only have two guys who aren’t going to go,” Liberty’s first-year coach said, referring to a freshman and sophomore who decided they needed more experience. In fact, Zaccagnini said he has a few wrestlers eager to compete in the championship even though they’ve been at the exhibition level for the last month.

For Marsico, it’s a chance to cap a varsity career.

“I’m very excited for it,” he said. “I’m super happy we’re having it, and to have the opportunity to do that as well.”

106: Adam Slicher (L) pin Hogan Harris 1:12

113: Kai Bailey (L) pin Caleb Barnhill 4:55

120: Jake Hurst (C) pin Liam Connor 2:47

126: Carson Fitzgerald (C) by forfeit

132: Double forfeit

138: Seth Pearl (L) pin Ben Johnston 2:40

145: Luis Lopez (L) m-dec. Joey Ellinger 12-2

152: Ryan Ohler (L) pin Brian Fuentes 0:49

160: Anthony Marsico (L) pin Jack Dahl 1:16

170: Ethan Plummer (L) by forfeit

182: Justin Richardson (L) by forfeit

195: Jimmy Sleptzoff (L) dec. Hunter Harris 4-2

220: Gavin Davies (L) by forfeit

285: Double forfeit

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