UNIONTOWN — Dennis Frazier said he’s pleased with the way Gerstell has wrestled so far this season, but the Falcons coach wants to get more matches and mat time before his team of 11 can solidify its resume.
Friday’s Jeff Yingling Memorial Wrestling Tournament at Francis Scott Key High School gave Gerstell its first non-duals experience of the winter, and the Falcons performed well amid a field that contained 10 public schools and another private school.
Milford Mill claimed the team championship with 167.5 points, holding off host FSK (153.5). The Millers had one champ in heavyweight Ayo Tifase, but added a runner-up and fourth third-place finishers. The Eagles had three runners-up and one champion in Wyatte Johns (220).
Fourth-place Century added an individual winner in Alex Ellis (182) along with one runner-up and one third-place finisher.
Gerstell took sixth with 121 points but had a repeat champ in senior Rami Tadros, who led the Falcons’ seven placewinners on the day. The 145-pounder won his finals bout by forfeit (Century’s Stephen Hurst reached the finals but left the event early because of an illness, coach Steve Willingham said).
“The team is pretty solid right now,” Tadros said. “We have almost all the weight classes full, so it’s looking good. As of now we’re 4-0 match-wise.”
Gerstell has regular-season wins over St. John’s Catholic Prep, Friends, Glenelg Country, and Bishop McNamara, and that’s without three spots filled in its lineup. Tadros is 7-0 on the season. And he got help Friday from two other finalists, sophomore Rocco Ruppert (152) and junior David Martinez (160).
“I think they’re wrestling pretty well. We need more matches and more experience,” Frazier said. “Three finalists is good. Of course [two of them] got hammered in the finals, but the kids they wrestled against were good wrestlers. It wasn’t like they just went out there and got beat ... it happens.”
The annual Jeff Yingling tourney, now in its 54th year, attracted a large crowd that mostly stuck around until the end of the finals. Those who did saw some thrilling finishes.
Ellis improved to 14-0 with a pair of wins Friday, capped by his 3-2 victory over Brunswick’s Eston Connor. Thomas Johnson’s Josh Wulff (195) trailed Milford Mill’s Jason Baughman in the second period before Wulff turned Baughman on his back and snagged a pin that got a rise from the spectators.
Johns, a senior who won a title at his home tournament a year ago, added another one with a 33-second pin against Frederick’s Daniel Buchanan — the fastest of the finals.
Johns improved to 12-3 with three wins Friday.
FSK’s Dustin Burgett battled Tifase in the tournament finale, and trailed 10-6 in the third period before scoring a flurry of points down the stretch. Burgett tried to get Tifase in position for a takedown just as time expired, and the Millers’ big man survived 10-9.
Burgett left the mat somewhat dejected, but many of his Eagles teammates came down from the bleachers to congratulate the junior for a strong finish.
Gerstell gets back into dual-meet action Thursday with a tri-meet against Carroll County foes Liberty and Westminster before competing at another tournament, this time at Winters Mill, on Jan. 11. The Falcons also face WM on Jan. 13 in a duals clash.
Tadros said his team is coming together, and he has goals in sight for himself this season after placing seventh at the Maryland Independent Schools State Tournament and just missing out on a spot at National Preps.
“I’ve just been spending a lot more time going over my previous matches,” Tadros said. “I’m figuring out what I can do better.”
1. Milford Mill 167.5, 2. Francis Scott Key 153.5, 3. Tuscarora 135.5, 4. Century 123.5, Overlea 123.5, 6. Gerstell 121, 7. Frederick 119, 8. Smithsburg 112.5, 9. Brunswick 90, 10. Walkersville 81, 11. Thomas Johnson 44.5, 12. Silver Oak 7.