The South Carroll wrestling team win a fourth straight Class 2A-1A state tournament title?
Nah, It couldn't be.
Not unless South Carroll wrestles "perfect," Cavaliers coach Bryan Hamper says, with Middletown of Frederick County being a clear favorite. Well, the Cavs were pretty close to "perfect" Friday night at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.
South Carroll advanced seven of its eight wrestlers into Saturday's semifinals, and held a slim lead over Middletown, 73-66, after the first day of action.
That's the most the Cavaliers have put into the semifinals since they advance five in 2014 and went on to share the 2A-1A title, the first of their three consecutive team crowns.
Middletown has six wrestlers in the semifinals, which begin Saturday at 4 p.m.
"The message from the beginning was, 'You guys win your matches and the team score will take care of itself,'" said Hamper, whose team lost to Middletown by 37 points at the 2A-1A West Region tournament. "I really believe this thing will be decided by who wins the most final matches. I think it's going to come down to the wire. We know we are going against the giant, but we can slay the dragon."
South Carroll's Joey Thomas (126 pounds, 45-2), Jamar Williams (170, 46-0), Cam Werner (132, 35-8), Dakota Bowers (113, 44-4), Travis Crawford (120, 45-1), Tyler Harbison (138, 38-6) and Jake MacKenzie (152, 41-4) all advanced to the state semifinals.
Thomas and Williams are both pursuing their third state individual crown as another team title weighs on the mind of the Cavaliers.
"We are really stepping up and wrestling up to our potential," MacKenzie said. "What we are doing so far is awesome to have seven of us in the final."
Both MacKenzie and Williams, a two-time region and three-time county champion, recorded two pins on the first day. But the performance of Crawford might have impressed Hamper the most.
Crawford beat Hereford senior Jimmy Cavin 6-4 in the quarterfinals with a takedown in the final period.
"That was a really big win," the coach said. "Cavin is a region champion. Travis gutted it out and he got that takedown with about 30 seconds left."
Harbison was also impressive, recording a pin in the opening round and following a 15-4 major decision in the quarterfinals.
Century sent two wrestlers onto the semifinals: Seniors Jack Akers (220, 33-0) and Cody Davis (160, 35-2). Davis pinned Randallstown's Wise Allah in the quarterfinals in 5:25 while Akers decked Kent Island's Hayden Blanchard in 2:35.
"Coming out of the first period, Cody was down 2-1," Century coach Steve Willingham said. "We talked about winning each period, but he didn't win the first period. We had two more to go and he really capitalized on the opportunity."
Liberty's Evan Bliden (26-4) advanced to the semifinals at 160 with a pair of wins. The junior had a first-round pin, then beat Marriotts Ridge's Austin Cestone 8-0 in the quarterfinals.
Westminster's Garrett Vandervalk (182, 41-6) also reached the semifinals on the 4A-3A side. He edged Flowers' Austin Cole, 3-1.
Manchester Valley's Zach McAleer (132, 37-5) advanced into the semifinals after he scored a 12-7 decision over Northwestern's Steve Velasquez.
How Carroll Fared
Jack Akers (220, 2-0)
Cody Davis (160, 2-0)
Sam Rothstein (285, 1-1)
Francis Scott Key
Paul Hann (285, 0-2)
Gabe Mojica (132, 1-1)
Evan Bliden (160, 2-0)
Noah Wienclawski (182, 0-2)
Zach McAleer (132, 2-0)
Harrison Walsh (220, 0-2)
Dakota Bowers (113, 2-0)
Jagger Clapsadle (106, 1-1)
Travis Crawford (120, 2-0)
Tyler Harbison (138, 2-0)
Jake MacKenzie (152, 2-0)
Joey Thomas (126, 2-0)
Cam Werner (132, 2-0)
Jamar Williams (170, 2-0)
Troy Blessing (145, 1-1)
A.J. Holmes (220, 0-2)
Hunter Lowe (182, 1-1)
Jaime Rodriguez (285, 1-1)
Garrett Vandervalk (182, 2-0)
Brad Walsh (138, 1-1)