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Building toward future success, Howard County JV athletes shine during winter season

Like every athletic season, this winter was filled with plenty of wins and losses for Howard County’s junior varsity programs. But just as important as the results on the scoreboard were the less tangible areas of growth that each area team underwent to set the stage for future success on the varsity level.

In an effort to provide these athletes with some deserved recognition, we contacted each school through their athletic administration to find out about some of the highlights and top performers from the winter season. Here’s what we heard back:

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Boys basketball

Atholton's Zach Calendar, left, shoots over Hammond's Jason Robinson during the third quarter of a boys JV basketball game on Feb. 24.
Atholton's Zach Calendar, left, shoots over Hammond's Jason Robinson during the third quarter of a boys JV basketball game on Feb. 24.(Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

Atholton had a standout season, going 12-3 in county and 15-4 overall, with some standout individual and team performances along the way.

After missing the first six games of the season with a broken hand, Zach Callendar returned to lead the team in most statistical categories. He averaged 22 points, seven assists and five steals per game. His best game came in the team’s season finale against Hammond, where he scored 42 points, dished out 10 assists, grabbed four rebounds and also had four steals.

While Callendar missed time early, Micah Walton-Smith carried the load and helped lead the team to a 4-2 start that included a pair of losses by one point. Walton-Smith finished the season averaging 15 points, six rebounds and three steals a game.

The team’s biggest win of the season came against rival Reservoir, pulling out a 71-60 victory behind a balanced attack that was led by 15 points apiece from Callendar and Mason Murray.

“Coaching this group was a honor. From practice to the games, they gave 100 percent effort,” coach Anthony Carr said. “I am extremely proud of this group of young men.”

Centennial JV boys basketball coach Corey Eudell talks to his team during a timeout in the fourth quarter against Wilde Lake in January.
Centennial JV boys basketball coach Corey Eudell talks to his team during a timeout in the fourth quarter against Wilde Lake in January.(Brent Kennedy)

Corey Eudell took over as JV head coach for Centennial after six years as a program assistant and didn’t miss a beat while leading the team to records of 9-7 in county and 15-7 overall.

The team’s roster included just four returning players from last winter, but the team pulled together for a 12-2 start to the season. As illness cost four starters to miss game time late in the year, the team lost five of eight to close the season. Eudell said the tough circumstances were a great learning experience.

“This tough time allowed us as coaches to teach the kids about learning to fight through adversity, and adapting to things that our beyond our control in life,” Eudell said. “I was proud that this group stuck together and stayed committed to this team and program.”

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Freshmen Tyler Longwell and Ty Beck-Winters led the team in scoring, while the four returning sophomores — Min Ywang, Sammy Molz, Kedar Collier, and Jalen Eudell — kept the team together along the way.

The Chapelgate JV boys basketball team poses for a team photo.
The Chapelgate JV boys basketball team poses for a team photo.(Photo courtesy of Irving Simon Photographers)

Despite giving up a lot of height on the court to the opposition, Chapelgate put together a strong campaign that included a 4-10 record in MIAA play and an overall record of 8-16.

“Our JV this year was an undersized team that played with a lot of heart and determination. The starting five was all guards with 2-3 playing out of position to help the team,” coach Chris Tringali said.

Xavier Samuel (11.8 points per game), Julian Copeland (11.1), Julian Ludwig (10.4) and Austin Robertson (9.5) were the team’s leading scorers. Robertson was named the team’s Yellow Jacket Award winner, while Noh Fein was the team’s defensive specialist.

Among the biggest wins for Chapelgate was a 76-36 victory over Covenant Life late in the regular season.

Glenelg Country's Wyatt Olson gestures toward the bench during a JV boys basketball game.
Glenelg Country's Wyatt Olson gestures toward the bench during a JV boys basketball game.(Submitted photo)

Glenelg Country played its first MIAA A Conference schedule in three years and finished 10-9 in league play (10-13 overall), which was good for second place in the Black Division and a playoff berth.

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Sophomore captain Riley Reese was the team leader in practice and games, providing an emotional boost by taking an average of three charges a game. Freshmen Kamal Francis and Jaden French were the Dragons’ leading scorers.

“Even though the team lost to Mount St. Joe in the playoffs by 11 points, the season was one that makes every Dragon proud,” coach Aaron Tolentino said. “Every player on a roster of 18 was instrumental in the team’s success and we are already looking forward to next season.”

Hammond's Jason Robinson, center, shoots over Atholton's Tra Evans, left, and Mason Murray, right, during the first quarter of a boys JV basketball game on Feb. 24.
Hammond's Jason Robinson, center, shoots over Atholton's Tra Evans, left, and Mason Murray, right, during the first quarter of a boys JV basketball game on Feb. 24.(Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

While its final record of 2-18 may not have shown it, Hammond showed consistent growth over the course of the season.

“At the beginning of the season, the team struggled with understanding how to play and how hard to play. As the season went along and the team started to play other schools twice, they started to understand their ability which brought out their competitiveness,” coach David Patrick said. “They realized that they can play with anybody as long as they did the fundamental things in games. Overall, each player got more vocal as the season went along and held themselves accountable as well as their teammates.”

Sophomore John James was among the go-to-players for the Golden Bears with his experience and leadership. Sophomore Yufani Mundi, freshman Nick Wilk and Jordon Campbell — the team leader in rebounding — were also regular contributors.

Howard's Griffin Haberern, right, dribbles toward the basket during a JV boys basketball game against River Hill.
Howard's Griffin Haberern, right, dribbles toward the basket during a JV boys basketball game against River Hill.(photo courtesy of Lisa Zehring)

Howard finished the winter with a 15-5 record, succeeding behind a defense that held the opposition to an average points per game in the low 40s.

Connor Henderson (15.5 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game) and Ethan Maokhamphiou (15.3 ppg, 4.9 assists per game) were the scoring leaders. Other consistent contributors included Griffin Haberern (7.8 ppg, 4.7 apg), Michael Mahoney (4.8 ppg, 2.8 apg), Connor Hawkins (4.8 ppg), Tyler Baruk (4.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg), Matt Jamerson (4.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Ian Moynihan (4.1 ppg) and Owen Taylor (4.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg).

Michael Russell, Emmanuel Omole, Eric Kaplain, John Marcella, Brady Hilbert, Pete Hagen and Henderson were among the defensive leaders.

“This group of young men came together as the season went on and got better each day. It was a pleasure and honor to coach them,” coach Michael Twardowicz said.

After a relatively slow start, Marriotts Ridge picked up steam toward the end of the season. The team had just two wins during the first two months before going 3-4 down the stretch, including two losses by two points.

Sophomores CJ Kocak, Jordan Peguese and Casey Pung were the leaders, while freshman Jay Farrell showed great promise for the future.

“When combined with varsity underclassmen in star freshman Kaden Bryan and sophomore Carter Ryan, this group will be a force to be reckoned with in a couple years when they are leading the varsity team,” coach Eddie O’Malley said.

Mt. Hebron was another county team that showed great growth as the season progressed, winning three of its last seven games.

“The Centennial and Marriotts Ridge game in particular were outstanding team wins for us for different reasons,” coach Bobby Macheel said. “Centennial had beaten us by 24 points in the first game and we also withstood a great comeback from them to hold on for a victory. The Marriotts Ridge game was a true team victory, as we recorded a season-high 25 assists in the last game of the season.”

Returning sophomore captain Logan Dunn led the way with 20.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. He also made 52 3-pointers on the season, finishing his JV career with a 36-point performance in the Mustangs’ win over Marriotts Ridge.

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Other returning sophomore captains Tomisin Akinlosotu and Sam Jones provided standout leadership. Liam Anderson, Jack Kettering and Varun Samy were other sophomores that provided consistent minutes.

Among the nine freshmen for the Vikings, Aiden Fries and Tej Ayyamgari handled the bulk of the ball-handling duties. Cooper Strohman was a leader on defense, while Sam Kelly was among the most improved and finished the year with a 12-point effort in the Marriotts Ridge victory.

“Overall, this team was a pleasure to coach across the board and it was a true joy to come to practice each and every day because the players wanted to get better and we had a lot of fun,” Macheel said.

Oakland Mills' Ali Dacosta-Paul goes up to attempt a shot in a home JV basketball game against Hammond.
Oakland Mills' Ali Dacosta-Paul goes up to attempt a shot in a home JV basketball game against Hammond.(JOHN KOONTZ)

Bouncing back after a few stumbles early, Oakland Mills finished with a winning overall record. The Scorpions lost six straight after winning their season opener, before regrouping for eight straight victories and eventually posting a record of 12 wins and eight losses.

“The team was known for its tenacious defense and toughness that really took a toll on their opponents,” coach Tyrone Lawson said.

Team captains Heath Franklin and Ali Dacosta-Paul led the way in scoring, with consistent support provided by sophomores David Ramos, Kylik Perry and Kanye Holland. Freshman guard Zahir Daniels led the team in assists, while freshmen forwards Kharles Ngansi and Bliden Elung were also impressive in their first year playing for the program.

The Reservoir JV boys basketball team poses with the trophy after winning the Springbrook Holiday Tournament in December.
The Reservoir JV boys basketball team poses with the trophy after winning the Springbrook Holiday Tournament in December.(Submitted photo)

Reservoir raced out to a 7-0 start, including a victory at the Springbrook Holiday Tournament to go along with wins over Centennial and Oakland Mills, on the way to eventually finishing the year with a 9-7 county record (12-10 overall). Late in the season, the Gators completed a season sweep of Oakland Mills with a one-point home win in overtime.

Sophomore Matthew Brathwaite provided leadership, ball handling and timely shooting. Sophomore Cameron Chance was a consistent scorer, while sophomore Evan Spann was a top rebounder, shot blocker and defender.

“Big things are expected next year from freshmen Zeck Chin — who made the all-Springbrook tournament team — and Coleman Walton whose intensity, defense, and tough-shot-making ability led to wins this season,” coach Nick Valenti said.

River Hill had significant turnover in terms of players from the previous season, but the pieces all came together for a special season that ended with a 17-4 overall record.

“Moving up all five starters and another returning sophomore left us with seven returning sophomores, along with two new transfers, without much game experience,” coach Jordan Kninsley said. “But every kid came ready to compete every day. Every game somebody new was able to step up and it’s a big reason why I played 13-14 kids a game.”

After losing against Atholton in the second game of the season, the Hawks rattled off nine straight victories.

Co-captains Jack McCormick, Tristan Barros and Curtis Williams were all instrumental to the team’s success. McCormick split backcourt duties with Andy Sobahni and Myles McDuffie, who transferred in from Reservoir and set a new River Hill JV scoring record with an average of 24.7 points per game.

Aryan Oza and Danny Lu came in off the bench to provide strong outside shooting, while Williams and freshman Demetre Koutras provided an inside presence that averaged a combined 14 rebounds per game.

River Hill won the Paint Branch Holiday Tournament championship, coming back from being down 11 points in the fourth quarter. The team also pulled out a double overtime victory against Lake Clifton late in the regular season.

Wilde Lake JV boys basketball coach Pete Bergin talks to his team in a timeout in the fourth quarter against Centennial during a home game in January.
Wilde Lake JV boys basketball coach Pete Bergin talks to his team in a timeout in the fourth quarter against Centennial during a home game in January.(Brent Kennedy)

Wilde Lake finished as one of the area’s top teams with a county record of 14-2 and an overall mark of 20-2.

“Throughout the season the team experienced adversity, triumph and most of all growth,” coach Pete Bergin said. “The leadership core of the team was a huge factor of our success.”

Team captains Enosh Minney and Sekou Hill provided strong leadership on and off the court, while freshman Nathan Hiteshew led the team in scoring with an average of 12.4 points per game. Minney — pulled up to varsity for the playoffs — and freshman Edrees Farooq (10.9 ppg) served as the floor generals, according to Bergin.

Hill and Joebell Gray were dynamic two-way players on offense and defense. Sophomore Darian Smart was the Wildecats’ second-leading scorer at 11 points per game and provided big minutes to go along with consistent production from freshman Daijeon Powell (8 ppg). Lukas Julian, Eineje Amed and James Aka were a force on the interior as the team’s leading rebounders.

Wilde Lake won its first 10 games to set the tone for the season. Then, after a lopsided loss against Atholton, the team regrouped and won seven in a row leading up to a rematch with the Raiders that the Wildecats won.

“With redemption in mind, the boys prepared for their rematch … from beginning to end at Atholton, the boys played at a high level, sharing the ball offensively and believing in each other defensively,” Bergin said. “The game went down to the wire with the boys coming out with a hard-won victory.”

Girls basketball

Atholton's Mary Wilkinson dribbles up court during a JV girls basketball game against Mt. Hebron.
Atholton's Mary Wilkinson dribbles up court during a JV girls basketball game against Mt. Hebron.(Submitted photo)

Atholton ended its season with an 11-4 record.

The Raiders were led by freshman Ryen Eley — who averaged eight points and three steals per game — alongside Sarah Rose LeFors and Mary Wilkinson.

“The team showed tremendous growth through the season,” said coach Avery Briscoe.

The highlight of the team’s season was its overtime win over Glenelg. Rose LeFors, who was one of the team’s top defensive players, hit the game-winning shot with only a few seconds left on the clock to put the Raiders past the Gladiators.

Centennial overcame injuries to finish its season 8-12 overall and 8-9 in county play.

“In six years of coaching JV basketball, I haven’t coached a team that experienced as many injuries as this team,” said coach Billy Martin. “We played only four games the entire season with a completely healthy roster and our top starters. With that being said, this group was a close-knit team that made every day enjoyable.”

The Eagles were led offensively by Abby Cudzilo (5.3 points per game), Claudia Martinez (5.2 ppg), Ava Welsh (4.8 ppg) and Jasmin Kim (4.5 ppg) and Sofia Plastino (3.3 ppg). Kim was the team’s top rebounder, while Plastino, Julia Littlefield and Erin Clark were the Eagles’ best defenders.

“They were really a great group,” Martin said. “They worked hard each practice and improved significantly throughout the season.”

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Martin said the highlight of the season was a 12-point win over Atholton, which earned the Eagles revenge after they lost to the Raiders by 31 points earlier in the season.

“That victory was a testament to the work ethic and improvement the girls made throughout the season,” Martin said.

Glenelg was one of the top teams in the county after going 14-2 in league play and 17-3 overall.

The Gladiators were led by sophomore captains Alana Scheinberg, Monika Krunkaitis, Shawn Coombs and Susie Shollenberger.

Gladiators coach Mark Kittleman said Krunkaitis was “vital” to the team’s success, and her best performance was a 22-point effort in Glenelg’s 46-40 win over Century.

“Monika was our go-to offensive player,” Kittleman said. “Her offensive capabilities and her performance during the first half of the season resulted in her being moved up to varsity before the end of the season. Monika is one of the most dedicated players I have coached; she is always looking to improve her skills.”

McSally, meanwhile, was one of Glenelg’s top defenders, and Coombs was one of the Gladiators’ best 3-point shooters.

The biggest wins of the team’s season were victories over Westminster and Reservoir. Freshman Claire Stern hit a trio of 3-pointers in the win over Wesminster, and Abby McSally scored 20 points in the win over Reservoir, which earned the Gladiators a share of the county championship.

“The emotion and fight I saw both on and off the court at the game against Reservoir was something I will never forget,” Kittleman said. “I could not have asked for a better group of girls to work with.”

The Hammond JV girls basketball bench celebrates a play during a game against Long Reach.
The Hammond JV girls basketball bench celebrates a play during a game against Long Reach.(Israel Carunungan)

Hammond finished its season with a 5-15 record and a 4-12 mark in county play.

Sophomores Jordan Hall and Rianee Sanni served as the team’s captains, and Sanni led the team in scoring, averaging 10.6 points per game. Sophomore Laura Keister, meanwhile, played a key role for the Golden Bears and led the team in rebounds (7.7), assists (2.0) and steals (5.2) per game. Keister also registered three double-doubles during the season, including a 20-rebound, 13-steal game against Patapsco. Sophomores Nylia Powell (4.8 points per game) and Jaria Butler (4.4 ppg) also led the Golden Bears.

"I am proud of the way we played this season, " said coach Michael Dorrien. "We battled through injuries and stuck together during tough battles and the girls showed true mental toughness."

Long Reach freshman Cassidy Vines dribbles up court during a JV girls basketball game against Hammond.
Long Reach freshman Cassidy Vines dribbles up court during a JV girls basketball game against Hammond.(Israel Carunungan)

Long Reach went 3-20 overall and 1-15 against county competition.

Freshman guard Cassidy Vines led the team in scoring with 88 points. Her top game was a 21-point performance in a win over Oakland Mills.

Sophomore guard Irene Lee led the team in rebounds, while Lee, Erika Bafitis and Kahlan LaCount all chipped in offensively.

The highlights of the Lightning season were wins over Dunbar and Oakland Mills.

“The team has grown tremendously,” said coach Jillian Allen.

The Marriotts Ridge JV girls basketball bench, including Luisa Bosio (11), Annika Huelskamp (25) and Taylor Cwalina (3) cheer for teammate Hayley Lettinga (20) during a game on Feb. 21 against Mt. Hebron. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
The Marriotts Ridge JV girls basketball bench, including Luisa Bosio (11), Annika Huelskamp (25) and Taylor Cwalina (3) cheer for teammate Hayley Lettinga (20) during a game on Feb. 21 against Mt. Hebron. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)(Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun)

Marriotts Ridge shared the county championship, finishing the season with a 14-2 county record and an 18-2 overall mark.

Freshmen Annika Huelskamp and Allison DeHaan led the Mustangs in scoring, while the team’s sophomore leaders were Jordan Komin, Hayley Lettinga, Kennedy Guest and Delaney Martha.

“They were instrumental for the success of our season,” said Robert Moser about his team’s leaders. “They led by example and gave 100 percent in practice.”

Moser said the highlights of the season were the Mustangs’ wins over Glenelg and Reservoir. The win over Glenelg, which Marriotts Ridge eventually shared the county title with, was the Gladiators’ first loss of the season.

“Those two wins were goals, and the girls worked so hard to achieve those goals,” Moser said. “Overall, I am so proud of this team. They bonded together and worked as a team every game.”

Mt. Hebron JV girls basketball coach Ray Hall, right, gestures during a game against Long Reach in early December.
Mt. Hebron JV girls basketball coach Ray Hall, right, gestures during a game against Long Reach in early December.(Israel Carunungan)

Mt. Hebron ended its season with a 2-20 record and a 2-17 mark in county play.

Freshman Kamya Osmer led the Vikings in scoring with 4.8 points per game. Zarish Sulton (5.2 rebounds per game), Alison Sicoli, Kamya Osmer and Colleen Pumphery also chipped in for Hebron.

“The girls kept a positive attitude throughout the entire season and showed tremendous growth by the end of the season,” said coach Ray Hall. “All of our returning players are already looking forward to next season.”

Reservoir ended the season tied for the best county record with a 14-2 league mark. The Gators also compiled a 17-2 overall record in the regular season.

Coach Robert Cranford said the turning point of the team’s season was its Christmas Tournament Championship game, which the Gators won by one point over St. Frances.

The team’s leading scorers were Johanna Tran and Jessica Tran, while Emily Jerome led the team in rebounding and Kathleen Thayer was the Gators’ floor general.

“Consistency was our key to (success),” Cranford said. “I always stressed play all four quarters and play as a team, which I believed (we) accomplished.”

The River Hill JV girls basketball team poses for a photo together.
The River Hill JV girls basketball team poses for a photo together.(Submitted photo)

River Hill ended its season with a 10-10 record and a 9-7 record against county foes.

Sophomore captains Molly Maloney and Rachel Hennessy were the Hawks team leaders, while Katie Bena led the way offensively with 11 points per game. Allie Billups, meanwhile, paced River Hill on the boards with nine per game, while Maloney averaged four steals a game and led the Hawks in assists.

The Hawks started the year slow with a 1-4 record, but they gained momentum to finish the season .500. Their best game was a 35-34 loss to then-undefeated Reservoir. Bena and Alyssa Cuyun led the team with 14 and nine points, respectively, in the game.

“Ultimately, we lost in the final seconds, but the team worked together and never gave up,” said coach Ayanna Randolph. “To play that well against an undefeated team was a boost for us in the end.”

Wilde Lake's Liana Mullican wrestles for control of a rebound in a JV girls basketball game against Reservoir.
Wilde Lake's Liana Mullican wrestles for control of a rebound in a JV girls basketball game against Reservoir.(photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hilton)

Wilde Lake improved this season and ended its county season with a 3-13 record under first-year coach LaTonya Frizzelle.

The Wildecats’ wins were over Mt. Hebron (twice) and Long Reach. Leila Boschulte, McKenzie Lawings and Lindsey Sands led Wilde Lake in scoring, while sophomore captains Liana Mullican and Ni'yonna Owens were the team’s leaders.

“We had a rebuilding season and progressed toward obtaining small individual goals that allowed us to achieve our team goals,” Frizzelle said. “The girls really bonded well with each other on and off the court, and they were very supportive throughout the entire season.”

Wrestling

Atholton completed its season with a 4-9-1 record.

A few Raiders stepped up in varsity slots throughout the season, which led to Atholton not being able to fill every weight class. Cameron Burt, Kevin Smitson, Nick Laing, Elijah Barber, Loic Foncham and Darien Reaves were the Raiders’ top wrestlers this season.

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Burt was the Raiders’ lone county champion at 126 pounds, pinning every opponent on the way to his title. Smitson placed third at 138 pounds, while Nick Laing was fourth in the 170-pound bracket. Leela Derstine, Atholton’s only female wrestler, represented the school at the girls 3A-4A East region championships in the 122-pound bracket.

Centennial placed three wrestlers in the top four at the junior varsity county tournament.

Noah Whipkey won silver at 145 pounds, while Zach Bellamy and Elijah Ruiz finished fourth at 138 and 126 pounds, respectively.

Ethan Gauthier (106) and Jason Choe (160) both had successful JV campaigns and moved up to varsity a few times and earned victories for the Eagles. Aiden Bellamy (138), Ryan Choe (152) and Caiden Alkire (113) also contributed for the Eagles this season.

Hammond was one of the top teams in Howard County, compiling an 11-2 overall record.

The Golden Bears were led by Seye Oyeyemi, Bennett Freeman, Jake Williamson, Diane Perez and Aaron Birk.

“The team consisted of 32 men and women who will all have a bright future in the sport and the Hammond program,” said coach William Smith.

Long Reach finished its season with a 3-11 overall record and a 1-10 mark against county competition.

The Lightning had three JV county champions and one third-place finisher. DeAngelo Hobbs, Lionel Couplin and Aman Ahmed won county crowns, while Nate Thompson finished third at the county tournament.

Hobbs and Couplin were the team’s top wrestlers this season, as the two grapplers combined to go 19-0. Ahmed, who won the 195-pound title, spent much of the season on the varsity team at 220 pounds.

River Hill's Aiden Mihalik celebrates a victory during a home match against Glenelg.
River Hill's Aiden Mihalik celebrates a victory during a home match against Glenelg.(Submitted photo)

River Hill had a solid junior-varsity season and was led by a handful of successful grapplers.

The Hawks’ top returners were Caden Canapp (138), Lucas Ramirez (132), Aiden Mihalik (132), Nick Li (132), Ava Flynn (138), Spencer Thomas (145) and Gerardo Perez-Lopez (152). The team’s top newcomers were Jacob Cohen (106), Kyan Pachoca (106), Vidhu Potluri (113), Anthony Meoni (138), Ian Parker (220) and Tony Miller (220).

“JV gives the wrestlers an opportunity to try the moves that they learned at practice, test their endurance, and prepare them for the day the varsity needs them to step on the mat with them,” said coach Scott Cannon.

Cannon said the most memorable part of the season was the Hawks’ match against Marriotts Ridge, when Miller pinned his opponent in the final bout.

“Moments like this are what make wrestling and being part of a team worth it,” Cannon said.

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