Winters Mill's Hunter Lowe wrestles Middletown's Mert Gulen during their 182-pound bout in the MPSSAA state wrestling tournament in Upper Marlboro Saturday, March 4, 2017.
Winters Mill's Hunter Lowe wrestles Middletown's Mert Gulen during their 182-pound bout in the MPSSAA state wrestling tournament in Upper Marlboro Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

There is no opponent that the Winters Mill wrestling team has faced this season with a resume quite like the one Damascus has built.

The Montgomery County powerhouse is the top seed in Class 2A West, and will meet the fourth-seeded Falcons in the regional dual-meet tournament Wednesday. Damascus hosts the four-team tourney, which begins at 5:30 with a pair of semifinal matchups.


The Hornets boast an outstanding program — loaded with wrestlers ranked by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, and five consecutive state dual-meet titles — that Winters Mill coach John Lowe said he’ll likely stress the underdog story of David vs. Goliath to get his team pumped up.

“There are countless stories or tales through the years of great individuals and teams who have gone down to a team or individuals they didn’t expect to lose to,” Lowe said. “We have aspirations of going to states and we are going to hit Damascus sometime. But this Damascus program is solid from top to bottom, and this is as good a team as they’ve had in any of those years when they have won state titles.”

Winters Mill assistant coach Zach Blessing vows his wrestlers won’t be intimidated.

The Falcons, who have a 11-3 record in regular-season duals, may have up picked up some confidence and swagger after winning their first county title since 2013 in late January.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to show what the kids at Winters Mill are made of,” Blessing said. “We have nothing to lose in this situation.”

Blessing feels Winters Mill matches up best with Hornets (14-0) in the lower weights

The Falcons boast junior Nico Vagnier (145 pounds, 18-6) and sophomores Colby Unkart (132, 21-11), Hunter Merson (113, 27-1), and Logan Konold (120, 23-7), and freshmen Zack Kirby (120, 26-7) and Garrett Dell (106, 27-5).

Damascus can also counter with freshman Michael Emerick (106), senior Josh Creegan (138), sophomore Silas Patton (113), and junior Johnny McLaughlin (126) in its lower weights.

In the upper and middle weights, Winters Mill is strong with junior Trevor Fawley (170, 27-4) and seniors Troy Blessing (160, 28-3), Hunter Lowe (195, 25-4), and Alex Miller (220, 25-6).

Middletown (13-1) and Williamsport (13-1) meet in the other 2A West semifinal, and the winners face off in the regional final that follows.

Manchester Valley (10-4) is the No. 2 seed in 3A West and squares off against No. 3 Linganore (10-4) in a semifinal at Tuscarora High School.

The Mavericks defeated the Lancers 41-35 early in the regular season. Manchester Valley — led by freshman Heathe Hernandez (103, 32-5) and senior Liam Pence (126, 31-3) — is making its first appearance there is school history.

Top-seeded Tuscarora (12-2) will clash with fourth-seeded South Hagerstown (9-4) in the other semifinal, and the winners meet at 7:30.

The Maverick wrestlers likely carry some confidence into the rematch with Linganore, but MV coach Dave Dodson cautioned the Lancers could be better this time around.


They’re certainly after revenge.

“I’m sure they are going to want to come back and knock us off,” Dodson said. “We have seen them and know them, but since the last time we’ve seen them, their coach has moved the lineup around. So there will be a couple of different matchups. It’s all about the matchup.”

Dodson said the key to beating Linganore again could be the Mavericks’ lower and middle weights.

That group includes Hernandez, sophomore Hunter Green (113, 23-14), senior Nick Robinson (120, 20-14), Pence, and sophomores Brayden Safely (132, 10-6) Tom Chenoweth (138, 23-3), Chad Schaffer (145, 31-6), and Adam Mattson (152, 21-16).

“We have to win the majority of the matches between 106 and 152 to win the match,” Dodson said. “I would say we have to win five or six of them.’