A points system new to this year in determining a Carroll County Athletic League wrestling champion had plenty of people crunching numbers Saturday afternoon at Westminster High School.
The finals featured seven wrestlers each from Manchester Valley and South Carroll, the top two teams in the county championship chase. The Cavaliers had six points toward the scoring going into the tourney, for their 6-0 record in CCAL dual meets. The Mavericks, meanwhile, trailed by one point (five for their county duals victories) entering the annual county tournament.
Order of finish meant more than ever this winter — the tourney champ earned seven points, the runner-up got six, and so on down to one point for seventh place. So when Man Valley edged SC for the tourney title, the Mavs and Cavs were tied with 12 points in the scoring system.
South Carroll’s win over Man Valley in the regular season stood as the tiebreaker, and the Cavaliers claimed their first county title in three years.
“I couldn’t be happier for these guys,” said SC coach Matt Thomas. “The guys have been putting the work in all year. It felt nice coming in here 6-0 in the county, and then the guys just had to go out and take [care of] business to get this county title.”
Thomas referred to all 11 of his wrestlers that competed, but a big nod went to his seven finalists that all won individual titles — freshman Michael Pizzuto (106 pounds), sophomore Ryan Athey (113), freshman Gage Owen (120), freshman AJ Rodrigues (126), freshman Rylan Moose (138), junior Antonio Bradford (160), and senior Richie Summerlin (285).
Athey and Bradford were the lone grapplers to repeat as county champions in 2020, and they both pinned their opponents in the first period.
Manchester Valley crowned three champs in senior Thomas Chenoweth (152), senior Adam Mattson (170), and junior Grant Warner (220) en route to its first county tournament title. The Mavericks collected 190.5 team points and edged SC by three for first place.
“This has been on our radar all season,” said Mattson (37-2), who won his county crown with a first-period pin. “This is something that we wanted to do.”
Winter stats and standings for Carroll County high school sports through Wednesday’s games
Third-place Winters Mill (136 points) got a county championship from senior Colby Unkart at 132, while Century senior Stephen Hurst (145), Liberty senior McClain Butler (182), and Westminster junior Kaden Bryan (195).
Rodrigues (43-1) gave South Carroll its fourth county winner in as many bouts, and it came in thrilling fashion.
Kirby scored first, an early escape in the second period, before Rodrigues tied things up with an escape to begin the third. The match went to overtime, and later Rodrigues grabbed a 2-1 lead in the first of two 30-second periods with another escape. He held Kirby (32-2) down in the second extra frame to secure the championship.
SC’s Pizzuto (43-0) and Owen (40-3) each won by major decision, and Moose (35-9) also won by pin. Summerlin (24-17) won by decision for his first county title.
“I’ve been wrestling for a while, so I just try to keep my nerves low,” Pizzuto said about his first county tournament experience. “Just wrestle my match.”
South Carroll won three county team titles in a row, from 2015-17, before Winters Mill won the last two. The Cavaliers were pleased to be back on top of the CCAL, while Man Valley had its own team history to celebrate.
“We knew a lot of those matchups were not going to be cake walks,” Thomas said about SC’s finalists. “Underdogs in some of them. But I mean, 7-for-7 is awesome in the finals. We grow from this, go on to next week and try to punch that ticket to the state tournament.”
NOTE: Man Valley also crowned two girls county champions Saturday. Summer Shackelford won at 127 pounds, and Katie Martin took first at 132. Each girl won via pin in their respective brackets.
1. Man Valley 190.5, 2. South Carroll 187.5, 3. Winters Mill 136, 4. Westminster 86, 5. Liberty 78.5, 6. Francis Scott Key 75, 7. Century 31.