Antonio Bradford won 32 matches and claimed county and regional championships a year ago as a sophomore on South Carroll’s wrestling team, making him one of the Cavaliers’ upcoming stars.
Bradford is a junior now and a de facto veteran on a squad that features just two seniors and a host of underclassmen. But the 160-pounder said he knows the Cavs are poised for a breakout season.
Bradford registered one of South Carroll’s 10 pins in Wednesday’s 63-16 victory over host Westminster. The Cavaliers improved to 4-0 (1-0 in the Carroll County Athletic League), and already have a tournament win on their resume.
Last weekend they placed first at the 15-team Battle at the Boro tourney in Boonsboro, where Bradford earned one of SC’s four individual titles. He raised his record to 12-0 with Wednesday’s pin, and the Cavs turned a 16-15 deficit into a runaway with eight straight pins to close out the match.
“We’ve just been bringing in new people to challenge ourselves,” Bradford said about the team’s makeup. “Just go hard, and see what we’re capable of.”
Westminster (5-4, 0-1) won three of the first six bouts, with pins from Jack Gruenzinger (160) and Jack Conrad (220). Kyle Carrier added a major decision at 285 and the Owls grabbed a one-point lead.
Short-lived, as it turned out — Michael Pizzuto (106) started a run of pins, followed by reigning Times Wrestler of the Year Ryan Athey (113), Gage Owen (120), Antonio Rodrigues (126), Anthony Bond (132), Jake Rippeon (138), Rylan Moose (145), and Brandon Athey (152).
Pizzuto, Owen, Rodrigues, Moose, and Brandon Athey are freshmen; Ryan Athey (a Class 2A-1A state runner-up last season) and Bond are sophomores.
“It’s just the beginning of what we have coming,” said SC coach Matt Thomas. “We’re so, so young. Some kids aren’t even to weight yet, or fully healthy. There’s a lot of big things coming from this team.”
Bradford, Shane Allison (195), and Rippeon each had pins within the first minute of their bouts. Seven of South Carroll’s pins came in the first period.
Westminster, which went 5-3 at the Armed Forces Duals on Dec. 6-7 in Hagerstown, gets another CCAL clash Friday with a visit to Manchester Valley. Then it’s home during the holidays for the annual Duals at Westminster event, now in its seventh year.
Meanwhile, South Carroll has a nine-day break before participating in a holiday tourney at Damascus. Bradford said he thinks the Cavaliers have what it takes to contend for a state dual-meet championship this year (SC also has wins over Middletown and Urbana so far).
Thomas praised his wrestlers’ work ethic, and said the early success should bode well for next week and what lies ahead in 2020.
“We want to be very aggressive and get to the point, and [get] bonus, bonus, bonus [points],” Thomas said. “These guys have ... the talent to do it, so why not go out and get the job done?”