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Top 15 wrestling roundup: Young South Carroll lightweights dominated December

South Carroll freshman Michael Pizzuto, seen on the right controlling the leg of Westminster's Ty Streib on Dec. 18, is 21-0 on the season and part of a dominant lightweight crew for the Cavs wrestling team.
South Carroll freshman Michael Pizzuto, seen on the right controlling the leg of Westminster's Ty Streib on Dec. 18, is 21-0 on the season and part of a dominant lightweight crew for the Cavs wrestling team. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Success is often contagious in wrestling, but the South Carroll lightweights have taken that mantra to a new level so far this season.

Freshmen Michael Pizzuto (106), Gage Owen (120) and AJ Rodrigues (126) and sophomore Ryan Athey (113) each won titles at the Damascus Holiday Tournament this weekend to cap a dominant December where the four grapplers combined for a record of 83-1 with 46 pins.

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“We’re very, very young but there’s a lot of talent and growth coming with those kids,” South Carroll coach Matt Thomas said. “… They brawl in the room back and forth and they push each other. They want to see each other succeed.”

Four local wrestlers claim titles at the 16th annual Mount Mat Madness tournament in Baltimore.

Pizzuto is 21-0 with 10 pins and cruised to the title at Damascus with notable wins against Williamsport’s Zaden Meyer, a senior who placed third at last year’s state tournament at 113 pounds and was ranked No. 2 in the state at 106, and Bullis’ Enzo Bell.

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“Michael’s not giving up many points,” Thomas said. “He’s been scored on maybe three times all year. He’s in a great position and he’s rolling right now.”

Athey, a returning state finalist who is 19-1 with 12 pins and the eldest of the group, took down Williamsport’s Zach Starr, a third-place finisher at last year’s state tournament, in overtime for the title. Athey beat his other two opponents via technical fall.

“Ryan came right off the mat and he went right to the drawing board, like I could have scored here, here and here,” Thomas said. “That’s a good mentality with him after taking a tough loss the weekend before.”

Mount Saint Joseph, McDonogh, Archbishop Spalding, Loyola Blakefield and C. Milton Wright remain the top-five teams this week.

Owen is 21-0 with 11 pins and also beat a higher-ranked opponent en route to his championship, as he defeated Williamsport’s Brandan Myers and two other out-of-state grapplers. Rodrigues is 22-0 with 13 falls and beat Williamsport’s Landen Harbaugh, a returning state finalist, 8-3, in the finals.

“It’s pretty cool as a coach, and I’m sure as a kid, too, in the big tournaments to have guys in the finals at these big tournaments and have 106 to 126 back-to-back-to-back-to-back,” Thomas said. “The kids are warming up as Michael goes out and he’s wrestling and you got Ryan, his drilling partner, warming up on the side of the mat. Michael wins, comes off, smacks Ryan and gives him a little encouragement and he just got out and he follows, and so do the other guys. It’s awesome seeing these kids at such a young age succeed. There’s big things coming for these kids and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Here’s how the top 15 Baltimore-area wrestling teams fared this past week:

1. Mount Saint Joseph, 2-0: Won Mount Mat Madness with three champs: Coleman Nogle (106), Chris Barnabae (126) and Clement Woods (138).

2. McDonogh, 1-0: Idle.

The South River Wrestling team remained unbeaten after finishing the South River Invitational with an 8-0 record, defeating Kent Island in the deciding match.

3. Archbishop Spalding, 1-0: Placed seventh at Mount Mat Madness with one champ: Brady Pruett (113).

4. Loyola Blakefield, 9-3: Idle.

5. C. Milton Wright, 3-0: Idle.

6. Sparrows Point, 15-0: Placed fourth in bracketed section of Damascus Holiday Tournament with two champs: Richard Davis (132) and Jake Rallo (170).

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7. South River, 21-0: Went 8-0 to win South River Duals. Beat Kent Island twice and Huntingtown.

8. Manchester Valley, 20-1: Went 10-0 to win Westminster Duals. Beat Dunbar and Hammond.

The Mavericks made another statement this weekend, putting together a dominant 10-0 performance to win the annual Duals at Westminster two-day event.

9. South Carroll, 4-0: Placed second in bracketed section of Damascus Holiday Tournament with four champs: Michael Pizzuto (106), Ryan Athey (113), Gage Owen (120) and AJ Rodrigues (126).

10. Dunbar, 12-1: Went 9-1 at Westminster Duals to finish second. Lost to Manchester Valley.

11. Winters Mill, 9-1: Idle.

12. Marriotts Ridge, 14-1: Idle.

13. Glenelg, 9-3: Placed ninth in bracketed section of Damascus Holiday Tournament with no champs.

14. Arundel, 11-1: Idle.

15. Mt. Hebron, 12-2: Idle.

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