South Carroll wrestling coach Bryan Hamper talks about winning his fourth straight Class 2A-1A team title. (Tom Worgo/Carroll County Times)
Welcome to South Carroll High, home of three more individual Class 2A-1A state wrestling champions this season.
The 2017 champs are seniors Joey Thomas and Jamar Williams, who each won their third straight title, and sophomore Travis Crawford. Thomas, Williams and Crawford each won four bouts, as they took the 126, 170 and 120 weight classes, respectively.
They helped the Cavaliers steal a lot of the thunder at the state tournament Saturday at Show Place Arena. That's because South Carroll racked up 166 points and captured its fourth straight 2A-1A team championship.
The Cavaliers' reign seemed to be in jeopardy entering the tourney, said South Carroll coach Bryan Hamper, since Middletown (140) appeared as a clear favorite. The Knights had beaten South Carroll by 37 points in the 2A-1A West Region tournament the previous weekend.
"This one was special," Hamper said. "We were a heavy underdog in this one. Everybody had pretty much wrote us off. But our kids really stepped up when it mattered. We brought eight guys and all eight guys got on the podium (for a top-six finish)."
Tyler Harbison (138, 39-7), Jake MacKenzie (152, 42-5), and Dakota Bowers (113, 43-5) finished as runner-up for South Carroll.
Thomas ended his career with 195-4 record after he beat Owings Mills junior Tyson McDuffy in the final, 10-4. Thomas was simply dominant in the tournament, winning by major decision, pin and technical fall in his other matches.
"I was more nervous for this state final than any of the others because it was my last match," Thomas said. "But good things still happened."
Thomas is set to wrestle next season at the University of Pittsburgh.
"I may never had another kid like Joey Thomas at South Carroll again," said Hamper, who is in his eighth season as coach. "When guys wrestle Joey Thomas, their goal wasn't to beat Joey Thomas, but just slow him down. He was an offensive machine."
Crawford's match went down to the final period and he broke a 4-4 tie with a takedown with 1:04 remaining and he held on for a 6-5 conquest. Crawford (47-1) saw Williams and Thomas captured titles before him.
"Watching them win made me really want to win," said Crawford, a transfer from McDonogh. "I was feeling like, 'There was no way I could lose. I was feeling so great.'"
Williams' performance in the final was impressive. He beat Perryville's Eugene Zacerous, the reigning state champ at 170, 7-4. Williams (48-0) trailed 1-0 after the first period, but went ahead 5-1 in the second period on a takedown and back points. His takedown in the middle of the final period put him ahead 7-3.
Williams won his other titles at 138 and 160 and finished his three-year high school career with a 143-3 record.
"It means a lot since I was able to end my career with another state title," Williams said. "He was like 15 pounds bigger than me. But my coaches told me to stay calm and be patient and wrestle my match and that's what I did."
Century senior Jack Akers suffered his first loss of the season in the final at 220. Akers (34-1) was trailing 5-0 on the middle of the second period when Dunbar sophomore Jorden Pryor (44-1) won by injury default.
"It was the same thing that has plagued him for the last two years," said Century coach Steve Willingham, noting Akers' problems with fatigue that plagued him as an underclassman. "It just got re-aggravated tonight. It was unfortunate. I thought we had gotten through it."
Middletown senior Adam Bain (35-6) scored a 5-2 decision over MacKenzie, while Knights standout Danny Bertoni (138, 46-1) edged Harbison 2-0 to claim his fourth career state crown.
Bowers (43-5) dropped a 6-3 decision to Catoctin's Zach Bryant.
Cam Werner (6th, 132, 35-11) and Jagger Clapsadle (5th, 106, 45-5) also placed for South Carroll.
On the 4A-3A side, Westminster senior Garrett Vandervalk (182, 42-7) finished as runner-up after being pinned in the second period by Damascus' Paul Purkey in their championship bout. Vandervalk's teammate, Brad Walsh (138, 43-8) placed fifth
Also in 4A-3A, after getting pinned in the second period in the semifinals by Walter Johnson's JD FitzPatrick, Manchester Valley's Zach McAleer (132, 42-7) went 0-1 on the second day of the tourney.
Century senior Cody Davis (37-3) finished in third place at 160, beating Bliden. Fellow Knights senior Sam Rothstein, a county and region runner-up, lost in the first round of action Saturday at heavyweight. He finished the season 31-4.