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C. Milton Wright’s James Riveira, Constantinos Gourgoulianis win state wrestling titles

C. Milton Wright junior James Riveira works Atholton junior David Panda into position for a pin in the final of the 3A-4A, 126-pound weight class during the state wrestling tournament at The Show Place Arena Saturday night.
C. Milton Wright junior James Riveira works Atholton junior David Panda into position for a pin in the final of the 3A-4A, 126-pound weight class during the state wrestling tournament at The Show Place Arena Saturday night.(Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A pair of C. Milton Wright junior wrestlers won Maryland State Wrestling Championship titles Saturday night at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.

James Riveira won his third straight state title, while Constantinos 'Staki’ Gourgoulianis picked up his first. The titles were won in back-to-back matches.

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Teammate Sawyer Graham, also a junior, was unable to make it three Mustangs with state titles as she was beaten in her final, a part of the first ever Maryland Girls Wrestling Championships.

In all, nine Harford County wrestlers placed sixth or better.

For Riveira, his run to the third state title as has been nothing short of amazing. He pinned every opponent he’s faced and all have come in the first period, except for one.

In Saturday’s final, it was 1:33 in the first period of the Class 3A-4A 126-pound state final. “I just like being dominant, I like leaving no doubt that I’m the winner every match,” Riveira said of his fast work.

In the final it took a few seconds for Riveira to take David Panda of Atholton down, but when he did, it was essentially over. Riveira slowly worked Panda to his back and then it was just a wait.

“I had to make it nice and tight so I could make sure he couldn’t kick out or try to like peek his head through,” Riveira said. “I had to make sure that once he was stuck on his back that he was stuck.”

Riveira (37-0) scored pins in 32, 55 and 28 seconds, respectively, in three matches leading to the final.

Gourgoulianis didn’t work quite as fast on his run to the 120-pound title, but he won his first title regardless.

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In the final, Gourgoulianis actually fell behind Frank Antonelli of Annapolis in the first period, but Gourgoulianis reversed very quickly and had Antonelli on his back for set of back points.

“WelI, I knew he was fast and shifty, if I got ahold of him and slowed him down, got what I wanted, he wasn’t gonna get anything," Gourgoulianis said.

With Gourgoulianis leading 4-2 after one period, Antonelli got an escape for the only point of the second period.

Gourgoulianis, now leading 4-3, started down in period three. He scored a reverse 50 seconds in and literally two seconds later, scored the pin and the state title.

“Me and James [Riveira] came here with one mission, the reason was to win states as a duo, best 1-2 punch in the state right now. We came here, we proved that,” Gourgoulianis said.

Like Riveira, Gourgoulianis (37-1) pinned all three opponents in his previous matches.

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Graham, competing in the girls 164-pound weight class, was locked in a 1-1 battle in the third period with Randallstown’s Jaylen Hyman.

Hyman was able to turn Graham in the final seconds and score the pin in 5:53.

“I think I definitely came on with the mentality of being nervous, slightly scared,” Graham said. “Wish I was not, but I did think it got in my head a little bit."

Graham fell behind 1-0 when Hyman escaped in period two, but the match evened in period three when Hyman was penalized for locking hands.

"I was looking good I think, looking pretty good and I think once she got me down, in third period when I took bottom, it was hard for me to get up and I think it just got to my head, Graham said. “I wouldn’t say I gave up, but I didn’t do my full potential.”

Mustangs head coach John Thornton, a state champ for CMW in the late 1980′s at 171 pounds, said, “James [Riveira], the run he’s had, really all year, but these last two weeks of the postseason, pinning everybody in the first period and obviously with every match in the postseason, the kids get better, better and better, and yet, you can’t tell, because of the way he wrestles. It’s impressive. Obviously, he’s made Staki [Gourgoulianis] better, not just wrestling, but giving him something to aspire to and go chase.”

Other place winners

Five more Harford wrestlers took top six place finishes, with four reaching the state semifinal round before losing for the first time.

North Harford senior Teddy Stinson lost just one match, but it was a state semifinal loss at 182 pounds in the Class 1A-2A tournament.

Stinson won two straight matches by pin before dropping a tough, 7-6, tie-breaker loss to Glenelg’s Drew Sotka in the semis.

Stinson rebounded from the loss to win 6-5 and 11-4 decisions and place third.

Joppatowne senior Chris Kalambihis followed the same route to place third at 220 pounds in 1A-2A.

Kalambihis won a major decision and 33-second period to get started, but he was pinned in the semifinal round.

Kalambihis then won his final two matches by pin to place third.

Havre de Grace junior Gavin Lloyd opened with a pin and a major decision at 152 pounds to reach the the 1A-2A semifinals, but a 10-4 loss to Owen Butler of La Plata dropped Lloyd into the consolation bracket.

Lloyd then dropped 4-1 and 5-4 decisions to place sixth.

North Harford freshman Cruz Cespedes opened with a win at 106 pounds in 1A-2A, but fell into the consolation bracket with a quarterfinal loss. Cespedes then won two straight to get into the placement rounds. Two losses, the second by injury default, gave Cespedes a sixth place finish.

Edgewood senior Tyreak Carey also took sixth place at 170 pounds in 3A-4A. Carey also opened with a win, before a loss put him in the consolation bracket. He wrestled to two wins to reach the placement rounds, but a loss put him in the fifth-sixth place match.

Carey was edged in overtime, 3-1, placing him sixth.

Aberdeen senior John Byers also placed sixth. Byers won twice by pin at 195 pounds in 3A-4A, before losing in the semifinals.

Byers dropped both matches in the consolation bracket, including a 5-2 loss to Saxx Redick of North Hagerstown in the fifth place match.

In all, 13 Harford wresters won opening matches, while 23 made it to the second day of action.

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