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Seniors go out on top as Carroll County Athletic League wrestling tournament wraps up

The wrestling season usually ends with state tournament matches to determine placewinners, so those who come away with victories get to enjoy a win in their final bout of the winter.

Of course, anyone who isn’t in a state final doesn’t have quite the same feeling while battling for a top-six finish. Those who come in third or fifth get to celebrate, just not quite as much as a state champion.

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But when this year’s Carroll County season ended with its traditional county tournament, the competitors wanted nothing more than to finish with a win. Bragging rights, county titles, and for some a send-off in their final high school wrestling match.

Such was the case Wednesday at Winters Mill High School, where the county championships concluded after two days of action. Carroll completed its brackets for weight classes 152 through 285, and South Carroll added three more county champs to the four who won on Day 1.

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South Carroll's Justin Brister controls Manchester Valley's Jack Mueler in the final of the 285 weight class during the second day of the Carroll County Wrestling Championships at Winters Mill High School on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
South Carroll's Justin Brister controls Manchester Valley's Jack Mueler in the final of the 285 weight class during the second day of the Carroll County Wrestling Championships at Winters Mill High School on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Jake Rippeon (152), Rylan Moose (170), and Justin Brister (285) each earned county titles, with Moose securing a second in as many seasons. Rippeon, a senior, avenged a regular-season loss to Liberty’s Anthony Marsico by beating him 10-1 in the county final.

Rippeon lost 9-7 the first time he wrestled Marsico, and said he was out of sorts that day. Wanting to come out on top in his final match is what fueled Rippeon, he said.

“That was definitely some of it,” said Rippeon, who lost a big lead in that first bout but stayed aggressive to control the county final early on. “I didn’t want to go out like that. Yeah, it was just everything.”

There was no team scoring this year, and teams were allowed to enter more than one wrestler in each weight class. Manchester Valley, which placed first at the 2020 county tournament, crowned two champs Wednesday in seniors Heathe Hernandez (160) and Grant Warner (195).

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Manchester Valley's Grant Warner pins South Carroll's Jackson Moore in the final of the 195 weight class during the second day of the Carroll County Wrestling Championships at Winters Mill High School on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
Manchester Valley's Grant Warner pins South Carroll's Jackson Moore in the final of the 195 weight class during the second day of the Carroll County Wrestling Championships at Winters Mill High School on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Hernandez, who won a county title in 2019 but took fourth at last year’s tournament, faced South Carroll’s Brandon Athey in the final and applied an aggressive approach to grab an early lead. Athey fought back, however, and tied the score 8-8 with 4 seconds remaining in regulation behind a takedown along the edge of the circle.

The two grappled into overtime and both wrestlers went for points that resulted in a tussle to the mat. Athey looked poised for another takedown, but Hernandez turned him for one of his own plus a few back points to prevail 13-8.

“I was very motivated seeing as it was my last season,” Hernandez said. “Noticing it would be the last time I ever got to wrestle, I decided I had nothing to lose and just leave it all out on the mat.”

Westminster’s Connor Kolarek (182) and Kaden Bryan (220) also won county crowns, and Bryan repeated as an individual champ.

Westminster's Kaden Bryan attempts to pin Manchester Valley's Vinson Smith in a 220 weight class bout during the second day of the Carroll County Wrestling Championships at Winters Mill High School on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
Westminster's Kaden Bryan attempts to pin Manchester Valley's Vinson Smith in a 220 weight class bout during the second day of the Carroll County Wrestling Championships at Winters Mill High School on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

South Carroll had five finalists Wednesday after going 4-for-4 in finals Tuesday, with Ryan Athey, Michael Pizzuto, Gage Owen, and AJ Rodrigues collecting titles. Cavaliers coach Matt Thomas said he was proud of his team’s effort — nine wrestlers finished either first or second.

“A lot of placers, and a lot of placers competing,” Thomas said. “Nine finalists out of 11 weight classes is awesome. I mean, seven county champs. Very impressive.”

CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS

152: Jake Rippeon (SC) m-dec. Anthony Marsico (L) 10-1

160: Heathe Hernandez (MV) dec. Brandon Athey (SC) 13-8 OT

170: Rylan Moose (SC) dec. Justin Richardson (L) 7-4

182: Connor Kolarek (W) m-dec. Kobe Pennewell (MV) 8-0

195: Grant Warner (MV) pin Jackson Moore (SC) 3:04

220: Kaden Bryan (W) pin Vinson Smith (MV) 4:17

285: Justin Brister (SC) dec Jack Mueller (MV) 3-2

CONSOLATION FINALS

152: Harrison Reed (W) pin Logan Zeigenfuse (MV) 0:15

160: Won Cho (SC) dec. Dan Stephens (W) 7-2

170: Trevor Scott (W) pin Connor Ryan (MV) 3:32

182: Luke Chmar (WM) pin Jonathon Bolt (MV) 2:36

195: Hunter Harris (C) pin Dillon Hereth (W) 0:30

220: Round-robin bracket; Cian McCauley (WM) second, Vinson Smith (MV) third

285: Sebastian Springfield (WM) Ezekiel Durham (WM) 3:00

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