After taking the past three-plus weeks to prepare for a new season, Manchester Valley and Winters Mill faced off in an anticipated clash that brought many wrestling enthusiasts to Westminster.
Several local coaches and their assistants watched, alongside fellow spectators, as two teams that qualified for regional duals in 2019 met for their Carroll County Athletic League opener. And the Mavericks might have turned a few heads.
They reeled off eight consecutive wins during Tuesday’s match and ran way from the reigning county champs. Man Valley’s 44-18 victory could be seen as a statement to the rest of its opponents for the coming year, but its wrestlers took a more progressive approach.
“It’s a big step forward in our process to show that hard work really does pay off,” said senior Chad Schaffer. “We’ve all been working really hard in the room. Going hard in practice every day, it will pay off. Even though this was a big win for us, and we’re not the team in the county that you’re going to roll over, we’re still going to get better and we’re still going to move forward from this.”
Schaffer started the match with a win at 138 pounds for the Mavericks, who raced to a 35-6 lead through 10 bouts. Man Valley got major decisions from senior Thomas Chenoweth (152) and Zach Brathuhn (285), and pins from junior Grant Warner (195) and freshmen Travis Green (106) and Jake Boog (113).
Green’s pin over WM’s Brady Forte in 32 seconds sealed the road win for the Mavs.
Schaffer and junior Heathe Hernandez each won county titles a year ago, and Chenoweth took second. That trio also guided Manchester Valley to a spot in the Class 3A West Region dual-meet tournament back in February after a 3-3 record in CCAL action. Winters Mill won both regular-season and county tournament titles last season, giving the Mavs a good starting point in 2019-20.
“We were a little bit more cautious going into this match, but the thing was is that we’ve still got to work hard no matter who it is,” Chenoweth said. “It could be the worst team in the county, we don’t care. We’re still going to have that same will and drive to be the best. Tonight we’ve proven that we have taken a huge step in terms of our wrestling.”
Winters Mill got pins from senior Hunter Merson (145) and juniors Garrett Dell (113) and Zach Kirby (132). But it wasn’t enough for the Falcons to give coach Eric Meszaros a win in his debut. Meszaros took over this season for John Lowe, who coached WM for the last 17 years.
Kirby is back this winter after a runner-up finish at the state tournament in March, and he won county and regional titles as well. Dell is a returning regional qualifier and a two-time runner-up at counties.
Winters Mill hosts a dual-meet tournament this coming weekend, while Man Valley takes part in the annual Bauerlein Duals at the same time at the former North Carroll High School. MV coach David Dodson said winning a match like Tuesday’s can go a long way toward more success in the new year.
“The team has done the right things to put them in a position to compete at the highest level,” Dodson said. “I think tonight, they showed that when putting things together, good things can happen.”
138: Chad Schaffer (MV) dec. Colby Unkart 5-3
145: Hunter Merson (WM) pin Kaleb Reid 0:43
152: Thomas Chenoweth (MV) m-dec. John Alcorn 17-7
160: Jason Colacioppo (MV) dec. Luke Chmar 12-5
170: Adam Mattson (MV) dec. Jake Stiff 10-4
182: Nathan Welsh (MV) dec. Alex Lowe 8-2
195: Grant Warner (MV) pin Noah Ocasio 3:06
220: Connor Livingston (MV) dec. Cian McCauley 5-3
285: Zach Brathuhn (MV) m-dec. Sebastian Springfield 9-1
106: Travis Green (MV) pin Brady Forte 0:32
113: Garrett Dell (WM) pin Lee Seipp 1:49
120: Jake Boog (MV) pin Alex Vagnier 1:51
126: Hunter Green (MV) dec. Logan Konold 6-1
132: Zach Kirby (WM) pin Heathe Hernandez 0:36