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Wrestling: County title on line, but 'bigger' things in focus for SC, WM

Holding on after a third period injury, South Carroll's Travis Crawford (L) takes a 4-3 decision over Marriotts Ridge's Chris Spano in the 120 pound match. South Carroll defeats host, Marriotts Ridge in Saturday's dual meet in Marriottsville.
Holding on after a third period injury, South Carroll's Travis Crawford (L) takes a 4-3 decision over Marriotts Ridge's Chris Spano in the 120 pound match. South Carroll defeats host, Marriotts Ridge in Saturday's dual meet in Marriottsville. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

South Carroll wrestling coach Bryan Hamper downplays the importance of Wednesday night's match against Winters Mill, with the winner claiming the county dual-meet championship.

The visiting Cavaliers, he insists, have more important things on their minds.

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"For us, it's just another match," Hamper said. "We don't make it any bigger than the other ones. We make no mistake about it. We are competing for a state title and that's our focus."

But Hamper, whose team has won the past three Class 2A-1A state championships, said he understands why it's such a big deal for Winters Mill. The Falcons badly want to beat a team with such a sterling reputation.

Besides, South Carroll defeated Winters Mill for the last two county dual-meet titles, winning 42-30 last year and 49-30 in 2015.

"We feel it's going to be a great match and it would make their season to knock us off," Hamper said.

Winters Mill coach John Lowe won't argue that point. Going up against South Carroll might be a little intimidating for his some of his wrestlers.

South Carroll boasts senior and two-time state champion Joey Thomas (126 pounds, 36-1 record), sophomore Travis Crawford (120, 37-0) and freshmen Jagger Clapsadle (106 pounds, 35-2) and Dakota Bowers (113, 34-3) in the lower weights.

Each grappler has 28 pins.

The Falcons — who won the county dual-meet championship in 2012 and 2013 under Lowe — will likely counter with junior Zach King (113, 22-13) and freshmen Hunter Merson (106, 27-8), Colby Unkart (120, (26-10), and Logan Konold (126, 10-15), and sophomore Isaac Ousley (126, 4-5).

King and Unkart could flip flop weight classes, Lowe said.

"They are just about unbeatable from 106 to 126," Lowe said about South Carroll. "They have monsters in the lineup and they don't have people we can answer for. In those weights, we are just hoping to survive."

Despite his confidence, Hamper said he's well aware of how impressive Winters Mill has been since mid-January.

The Falcons have won eight dual meets in a row. That streak includes five blowout wins.

The Winters Mill wrestling team continues to build momentum.

"They are on this long winning streak and getting the attention," Hamper said. "We are going in there with the mindset that we are underdogs. We are going in there with a chip on our shoulder. We want to dominate."

That's what some of the Falcons most experienced and strongest wrestlers have done this season by recording double digits in pins.

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Senior A.J. Holmes (15, 220, 29-5) and juniors Kyle Shanholtz (12, 285, 25-11) and junior Hunter Lowe (15, 182, 30-5) lead the charge for Winters Mill. Junior Alex Miller (195, 25-9) is also standout in the upper weights.

Hamper points to one the middle weight bout at 152 between Falcons junior Troy Blessing (30-4, 17 pins) and South Carroll senior Jake MacKenzie (34-3, 21) could be a key one.

"It's potentially a marquee matchup," Lowe said. "They are both ranked in the state."

Added Lowe: "MacKenzie beat Blessing in the regionals fairly solidly, but Blessing has really come on."

Lowe also says the clash between two sophomores, South Carroll's Joey Judson (160, 7-5) and WM's Josh Burndley (160, 19-15), could be a swing bout.

"They are very similar athletes and that will be a big one," Lowe said.

South Carroll's dual-meet record has to jump out at Lowe. The Cavaliers are 30-3, including 5-0 in the county. Winters Mill is 15-5, 4-1.

"They are probably about a 10-point favorite," said Lowe, who coached Hamper for a season when he ran the program at McDaniel College. "But it's always like a one- or two-match swing. I think it will be pretty close again. We hope to steal an upset here or there, which we will have to do to win."

Projected lineups

Weight South Carroll Winters Mill
106 Jagger Clapsadle (35-2) Hunter Merson (27-8)
113 Dakota Bowers (34-3) Zach King (22-13)
120 Travis Crawford (37-0 Colby Unkart (26-10)
126 Joey Thomas (36-1) Logan Konold (10-15)
132 Cam Werner (28-7) Nico Vagnier (24-9)
138 Steven Dahl (29-7) Bailey Konold (21-9)
145 Tyler Harbison (32-5) Trevor Fawley (21-9)
152 Jake MacKenzie (34-3) Troy Blessing (30-4)
160 Joey Judson (7-5) Josh Burndley (19-15)
170 Jamar Williams (37-0) Case Rowe (23-12)
182 Matt Staley (17-20) Hunter Lowe (30-5)
195 Richie Summerlin (17-19) Alex Miller (25-9)
220 Mason Yeager (15-20) A.J. Holmes (29-5)
285 Pat Quinn (24-13) Kyle Shanholtz (25-11)


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