Oakland Mills continued its clean sweep of the postseason in dominating fashion at the 1A/2A South regional wrestling tournament at Southern (AA) High School Feb. 27-28, taking the title with 211 points, 71 more than Kent Island.
The Scorpions entered the tournament with 12 wrestlers battling for a chance to continue their season at the MPSSAA state tournament March 6-7 at University of Marylan's Cole Field House, and 10 of those grapplers achieved the goal. Among the 10 to qualify, three were crowned regional champions – Dakota Thompson (120 pounds), Sidique Furet (170) and Jaron Smith (182).
"I think the tournament went well for us. I think Howard County looked pretty effective," Scorpions coach Brad Howell said. "We wrestled in our game, and our boys continue to show growth through the weekend. ... We're pretty happy with the results."
Marriotts Ridge finished in fourth place with 112.5 points behind Easton (126.5) and qualified six wrestlers to the state tournament, including 106-pounder Chris Spano, who shutout Oakland Mills freshman Kyle Farace, 6-0, for the title.
Howell said Thompson looked extremely impressive and dominated his weight class. He who his title with a 11-2 major decision over Southern's , while Smith continued his push for a second straight state title by pinning Marriotts Ridge's Ben Switlick in only 57 seconds.
"Dakota looked sharp. I was really happy about him," Howell said. "His skill level is constantly increasing. ... And Jaron looked dominating like he did through counties. His fundamentals keep getting better and better."
Furet had his hands full in the finals match against Easton's Nolan Muganda. Muganda dropped down from 182 after the regular season, while Furet bumped up from wrestling 160. The weight difference, however, didn't matter in the end, as Furet earned a takedown in overtime to take the regional championship.
"I thought Sidique wrestled really smart," Howell said. "His wrestling IQ is constantly rising. He really shut down Muganda's big stuff and was smart enough to pick and choose his assaults on him."
Oakland Mills had five other wrestlers in the finals – Farace, Johnny Rynn (113), Julian Capino (126), Matt Claxton (145) and Zach Vincent (220) – but all fell short. Justin Gatewood (132, 3rd) and Antonio Rozier (285, 4th) also qualified for the state tournament.
In addition to Spano and Switlick, the Mustangs qualified Jacob Hebeeju (113, 4th), Kyle Wiggins (120, 4th), Romtin Habibi (126, 3rd) and Will Parks (132, 4th) for the state tournament.
Howell expects the state tournament title to be a hard-fought battle among several teams, including South Carroll, Middletown and Kent Island, which expect to crown a few state champions each. Oakland Mills, however, hopes to capture the title by using numbers to its advantage and sprinkling state placers in multiple weight classes.