Wrestling: Team-by-team preview capsules for 2018-19 season

Winters Mill's Hunter Merson pins South Carroll's Jake Rippeon during their 113-pound bout in the Carroll County wrestling tournament in Westminster Saturday, Feb 17, 2018.
Winters Mill's Hunter Merson pins South Carroll's Jake Rippeon during their 113-pound bout in the Carroll County wrestling tournament in Westminster Saturday, Feb 17, 2018. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)


Coach: Steve Willingham, 3rd year

Last year’s record: 9-19, 2-4 county


First match: Dec. 7 at North Hagerstown duals

Key losses: Connor Armstrong, Nick Dahl, Dylan Fitzgerald, Eli Freas


Key returners: Billy Bentley, senior 152; Stephen Hurst, junior 138; Tom Morey, senior 182

Outlook: Century has six seniors who should provide the leadership needed with a roster made up mostly of younger grapplers. And with 19 on the varsity squad, the Knights will get their chance to gain experience this season. Morey went 16-8 at 220 pounds last season. “As our team continues to rebuild, I think we will be competitive in the county,” Willingham said via email.

Francis Scott Key

Coach: Bill Hyson, 40th year

Last year’s record: 5-14, 0-6 county


Next match: Dec. 12 at Mountain Ridge (with Williamsport)

Key losses: Nate Imes, Ryan Owings, Kane Richardson

Key returners: Sam Kinloch, junior 160; Nathan Perry, junior 138; Blaine Robertson, senior 160; Dontae Smith, senior 145; Quinlan Stacy, junior 220/285

Outlook: FSK had first-team all-county picks last winter in Imes and Richardson; Imes graduated and Richardson sustained an injury during football season that is set to keep him out for the year. But the Eagles have their share of talent on the roster, led by Smith (28-7 at 126 pounds last winter). “We aim to overcome inexperience with quality mat time and practice,” Hyson said via email.


Coach: Jeff Kent, 1st year

Last year’s record: 14-23, 1-5 county

Next match: Dec. 19 at Brunswick

Key loss: Jake Griffin

Key returners: McClain Butler, junior; Jake Gaskin, senior; Noah Wienclawski, senior

Outlook: Losing Griffin (42-4) is big, Kent said via email, but the Lions bring back a reigning county champion in Wienclawski (36-9 at 195). Griffin won county and region titles, and finished with 129 career wins. Butler, Gaskin, and Jake Slicher are three guys gunning to advance at the state tourney after just missing out in 2018, Kent said. “Although the graduation of Griffin is as big a loss as one athlete can be, returning just about the rest of our starting lineup will show,” he said.

Manchester Valley

Coach: David Dodson, 2nd year

Last year’s record: 28-10, 4-2 county

First match: Dec. 10 vs. Aberdeen, Edgewood

Key losses: Kyle Mathias, Liam Pence, Troy Warner

Key returners: Hunter Green, junior; Heathe Hernandez, sophomore; Chad Schaffer, junior; Thomas Chenoweth, junior; Adam Mattson, junior; Nate Renfro, senior

Outlook: Losing Pence and Warner to graduation means losing a pair of first-team all-county performers, but Dodson — a Maryland chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 inductee — has a deep and talented junior class to try and fill the void. Hernandez won 35 matches last season, Green and Chenoweth each won 26, and Mattson won 23. Dodson said via email the Mavs are going to “compete at the highest level in each match.”

South Carroll

Coach: Matt Thomas, 2nd year

Last year’s record: 14-11, 3-3 county

Next match: Dec. 10 at Marriotts Ridge

Key losses: Dakota Bowers, Trent Brauer

Key returners: Antonio Bradford, sophomore 160; Steven Dahl, senior 160; Travis Crawford, senior 132; Tyler Harbison, senior 152; Jake Rippeon, sophomore 126; Pat Quinn, senior 285

Outlook: The Cavaliers won the county tournament last winter and crowned four individual champions. Dahl (35-7) and Werner (33-8) are back to try and add to their resumes — Werner is a three-time county champ. Crawford won a state crown in 2017, but Thomas said he and Harbison are trying to get healthy for now. “We expect to have our lineup/team at full strength come Christmastime,” Thomas said via email.


Coach: Mike Flemming, 4th year

Last year’s record: 17-24, 5-1 county

First match: Dec. 7 at Grindstone Duals (Winters Mill HS)

Key losses: Christian Haffuman, Parker Streib, Brad Walsh

Key returners: Chase Buckwalter, senior 138; Zach Caltrider, senior 138; Jack Conrad, junior 152; Josh Howard, senior 195; Nate Seibel, senior 170; Marley Warfield, senior 160

Outlook: Caltrider, Conrad, and Warfield return as regional qualifiers from a season ago, but the Owls look to replace the reigning Times Wrestler of the Year in Walsh (50-1). He placed third at the 4A-3A state tourney last winter, and won a county title along with Hauffman and Streib. “We are excited to see where we are this weekend and to build from there until our lineup is finalized,” Flemming said via email.

Winters Mill

Coach: John Lowe, 16th year

Last year’s record: 18-4, 6-0 county

First match: Dec. 7 at Grindstone Duals (Winters Mill HS)

Key losses: Blake Billings, Troy Blessing, Hunter Lowe, Alex Miller, Casey Rowe, Justin Toney, Nico Vagnier

Key returners: Josh Burndley, senior 160; Garrett Dell, sophomore 106/113; Trevor Fawley, senior 170/182; Zach Kirby, sophomore 126/132; Hunter Merson, junior 138/145; Colby Unkart, junior 132/128

Outlook: Blessing, Hunter Lowe, and Miller being gone means the Falcons open the year without three of their four first-team all-county picks from last year’s regular-season county championship campaign. Plus, John Lowe said Toney and Vagnier will both miss the winter because of injuries. But a solid returning core, led by Merson (32-4), gives Winters Mill its share of hope. “Hoping to defend [county] title and make postseason duals again,” Lowe said via email.

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