Glenelg, South River, Sparrows Point fall in MPSSAA wrestling state dual championships

Tim Schwartz
Contact ReporterBaltimore Sun wrestling reporter

For the second straight season, no Baltimore-area wrestling teams will leave North Point High School in Waldorf as state dual meet champions.

No. 3 Glenelg (2A) and No. 10 Sparrows Point (1A) fell in their respective championship matches for the third straight year, while No. 11 South River (4A) lost in its first trip to the finals.

The Gladiators (23-1) lost to Damascus, 45-16, the Pointers (33-2) fell to Southern Garrett, 36-30, and the Seahawks (30-4) battled Springbrook until the second to last bout but ultimately fell, 36-18.

No. 8 Bel Air (3A), No. 9 Owings Mills (2A) and Patterson Mill (1A) lost their semifinal matches.

Stephen Decatur beat Linganore, 28-27, to win the 3A state title.

The Gladiators, who beat Parkside, 57-12, in the semifinals, thought this was their year to take down Damascus and end one of the longest winning streaks the country has ever seen and their run at six straight state dual meet state championships.

The Swarmin’ Hornets heard the noise and watched Glenelg win their tournament in December and then place ahead of them at War on the Shore in January. They felt like underdogs all season, coach John Furgeson said, but didn’t wrestle like it with the title on the line.

“Everyone thought we were done after the first year, the second year, the third year, the fourth year and those guys graduated, then the fifth year, the sixth year,” Damascus coach John Furgeson said. “Every year it seemed like it could be the year and at some point it’s going to be the year, but not this year.”

The Swarmin’ Hornets took down the Gladiators, 45-16, for the third straight season in the 2A state championship to capture their seventh straight state title while extending their dual meet winning streak to 178, the third-longest streak all-time. Only Brandon of Florida (459 straight, 1974-2008) and Weaver of Alabama (221, 1991-99) had longer winning streaks, according to the National Federation of High School’s wrestling record book.

“They beat us at our tournament, they beat us at War on the Shore in the team points stuff,” Furgeson said, “but this was our time tonight. They answered the bell and it’s just an amazing thing.”

Glenelg, the No. 2 seed, started on the wrong foot, as Kevin Hansberger bumped up from 126 pounds to 132 but lost to Nick Biava, 3-2. Reigning state champion Jared Thomas (138) got a pin but the Gladiators lost two more swing matches at 145 and 152 pounds and trailed 11-6 after four bouts.

They expected to take a commanding lead in the heavier weight classes but it didn’t come to fruition. Jacob Jones (160) managed just a one-point victory, and although Drew Sotka (170) did his part with a technical fall, Damascus’ Timothy Furgeson (182) secured a major decision to make it 15-14 in favor of the top-seeded Swarmin’ Hornets. Glenelg reclaimed the lead after another one-point victory from Sam Alsheimer (195), but it would turn out to be its last win of the dual meet.

Elijah Baisden (220) earned a quick fall and the Gladiators were deducted a team point for misconduct, and the Damascus bench erupted when Michael Harris (285) pinned Massimo Conti in 56 seconds. Two more pins from Silas Patton (106) and Joe McKneely (113), as well as decisions from Colton DeValle (120) and Michael Emerick (126) turned it into yet another lopsided victory.

Glenelg coach Matt Bichner put the blame squarely on his shoulders after the loss.

“I didn’t get them ready. Damascus wrestled a heck of a match, they’re competitors,” he said. “We knew they were always going to step up and they shine in these big moments. It’s on me; I didn’t get the guys ready enough for it. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way today.”

In 1A, the second-seeded Pointers won half the bouts against the No. 1 Rams in a rematch of last year’s final, which Southern Garrett won handily, 47-20, but couldn’t match them in bonus point-victories.

The Rams’ Cole Sweitzer (285) and Aiden Schwab (106) started the dual with first-period falls to take a 12-0 advantage, but Sparrows Point, which beat Lackey, 51-26, in the semifinals, answered with five consecutive wins.

Wayne Brooks (113) earned a hard-fought 17-2 technical fall, Gage Carr (132) won by fall and Mike Fouts (138) controlled the match and won a 9-0 major decision, while Matt Fouts (120) and Richard Davis (126) earned decisions.

“We battled back,” Sparrows Point Mike Whisner said. “We’ve battled back all year. We knew once we got to 113 we could go on a little run there.”

Though the Pointers led by nine after that run, Southern Garrett quickly reclaimed the thanks to pins from Jake Sweitzer (145) and Jace Guy (152). Adding two consecutive decisions, including one in triple overtime at 170 pounds, made it 30-21 in favor of the Rams, and a fall from Hunter Park (195) sealed their third state championship.

“We were down two starters and our depth was tested today but we had some kids come through for us,” Whisner said. “I’m just so proud of this team. We tied the matches 7-7 but it came down to bonus points and they got the better end of it today.”

Whisner said they were happy just to make it to the state duals for the first time in 2015 despite getting blown out. Returning two years ago, they were happy just to reach the final, and last season they thought it could go either way. But this time, Whisner said, the goal was to win the title.

“We’re getting closer,” he said. “... This year our goal was to win it. It’s our third straight year coming back now and last year was the good-feel story, but we came here to win it. We just came up short.”

The second-seeded Seahawks rolled over Eleanor Roosevelt, 71-12, but couldn’t finish off the No. 1 seed Blue Devils, who won their first state championship in their first appearance.

Both teams won four of the first eight matches and were tied at 15 when Springbrook took control. Sayfore Sieh (132) won via technical fall and Dassaeve Jean (138) secured a 17-6 major decision, though a close 9-8 victory by Justin Richards cut the Blue Devils lead to 24-18. But a 5-3 victory by Jean Mehul (152) padded their lead and Sahid Antar (160) took down Trenton Puccinelli in overtime to clinch the victory.

“We had our opportunities to win matches. We just didn’t,” Seahawks coach John Klessinger said. “We lost some matches down low that I thought would be a lot more competitive. I kind of expected the stuff in the middle. Maybe the pressure of the match got to them but who knows. They’re good. ... Maybe in a year or two we’ll be back.”

Bel Air (28-4), the No. 3 seed, failed to reach the final for the second straight season and dropped its 3A semifinal against Stephen Decatur, 32-30. The Bobcats lost to the Seahawks 44-25 at the Iron Horse Duals at C. Milton Wright Jan. 4-5 and couldn’t climb out of a 23-0 hole on Saturday.

Though Bel Air won four of the next five matches, three came via decision. Both teams won seven bouts overall, though Stephen Decatur built a big enough lead to forfeit the last two matches.

“The first time we wrestled them we won at 220 and wrestled at the others close and this time they won 220 and bumped everyone up and it really paid off for them,” said Bobcats coach Craig Reddish, who added losing the 106-pound match, which gave the Seahawks a commanding 23-point lead through five matches, was tough to bounce back from. “Our kid [Kyle Heidel] beat their kid [Shamar Baines] before, so getting pinned there was hard.”

Among the individual highlights was 7-2 victory by two-time state champion Brent Lorin (120) over returning state finalist Jagger Clapsadle at 120 pounds.

Fourth-seeded Owings Mills (24-5) lost its 2A state semifinal rematch with Damascus, 42-32. Eagles hung tough early and trailed 18-14 at halfway point but the Hornets won the next four matches by fall to take a 42-14 advantage. Damascus, which beat Owings Mills 50-18 in last year’s semifinals, forfeited the final three bouts.

Eagles’ defending state champion Phil Smith (138) won by fall, Machiavelli Amaya (152) won a 15-3 major decision and Roell Ngounou (170) secured a 15-5 major decision, but losing six matches by fall was too much to overcome. Jaylon McDonald (106), Damen Tiller (113) and state champion Alex DuFour (120) won via forfeit.

Owings Mills coach Ryan Mackin said his team might not have understood the magnitude of the moment, though he added there are some positives to take into the Baltimore County tournament next weekend.

“It just wasn’t our day today. They were just a better team across the board: better coached, better prepared. I do feel like we gassed them out a little bit and were able to push the pace, so there’s bright spots,” he said. “... Maybe they don’t understand how important this is. A couple kids missed weight. But the only person to blame for that is me. If they don’t understand the importance of this then that’s my fault. I have to do a better job of communicating.”

In 1A, Patterson Mill fell to Southern Garrett, 63-9, in the semifinals. The fourth-seeded Huskies were making their second straight trip to the state final four after losing to the Rams 58-15 in last year’s semifinal but managed to win just three of 14 bouts this time around.

Patterson Mill led 3-0 after Connor Morton (220) won a 6-0 decision but lost the next five matches by fall or forfeit and the top-seeded Rams never relinquished their big lead. Ethan Harvey (132) and Brian Wheatley (138) also won decisions.

“I told our kids to take away something positive from your match and make yourself a better wrestler,” Huskies coach Ryan Artist said. “We had realistic expectations coming in. I was really proud of our team; we won back-to-back regional championships.”

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