Maryland’s longest ever high school wrestling winning streak came to an end this weekend.
Damascus, winners of seven straight Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state duals championships, saw its dual-meet streak end at 182 at the Warrior Duals at La Plata Dec. 14. It is the third longest of all-time, according to the National Federation of High School’s wrestling record book, and only Brandon of Florida (459 straight, 1974-2008) and Weaver of Alabama (221, 1991-99) had longer winning streaks.
The run for the Swarmin’ Hornets, whose last defeat came against Wootton in the 2012 regional duals, ended at the hands of Virginia’s Great Bridge, 40-33, and two rounds later South River, last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, became the first Maryland team in more than seven years to beat Damascus with a 37-30 victory.
The No. 8 Seahawks didn’t wrestle Great Bridge and finished the weekend 8-0 to improve to 10-0 overall. Coach John Klessinger called it a “big win” but said there was “a little bit of an asterisk with it” because the match swung when Damascus’ Michael Emerick, a third-place finisher at last year’s state tournament, illegally slammed Austin Johnson in the 138-pound match. Johnson was unable to continue and was awarded an injury default victory.
However, in a winner-take-all match at 145 pounds, South River’s Joab Patino pinned Chris Hyre in 38 seconds to seal the victory.
“We recognized it,” Klessinger said. “Going into the weekend we didn’t think we had much of a shot, but after watching them for probably five matches ... I said to one of my coaches Dave Hicks, ‘Dude, if we catch some breaks, we can possibly go with these guys.’ ... My kids know it’s a big deal.”
Both teams won seven matches but the Seahawks had the edge in bonus-point victories and won the final three bouts. Lonnell Owens-Pabon (170), Racheil Coney (285), Moni Dove (113) and Joab Patino (145) each pinned their opponents, while Johnson’s win also counted as six team points. Isaac Barber (132) scored a major decision and Michael Byers (152) earned a decision
Damascus got just three pins and four decisions.
Klessinger admitted he’s “definitely” surprised by his team’s success so far this season. Against Damascus, South River’s lineup featured a freshman, six sophomores, four juniors and three seniors, and the group is still making a lot of rookie mistakes. Klessinger said before the season his team had great potential but there were still many unknowns.
“It’s definitely encouraging. There’s a lot of potential,” he said. “You know, we’re still doing young stuff, making young mistakes, but I think if we continue to get better we’ll be OK. We could push some of the better teams.”