South River trailed Glenelg by six points after all four of the Gladiators' finalists won at Saturday's 3A/4A East regional tournament at Northeast High School, and Seahawks coach John Klessinger had a decision to make.
Should he tell his heavyweight Brendan Woody that he needed to pin his opponent in order for the Seahawks to share the regional title, or should he let him focus on simply wrestling his match?
"My assistant coach told me I had to tell him," Klessinger said. "He's a senior, he's been here before, and he responded."
Woody pinned Reservoir senior Tyler Ecker in 3 minutes, 12 seconds to secure the fall and give South River a share of its first-ever regional tournament title with defending champion Glenelg with 131 points.
"I heard it from at least eight people — pin to tie and be co-champions with Glenelg," said Woody, who improved to 41-1 on the season with his second-straight regional title. "Usually I don't go that much tempo so early on in the match, but I'm glad I did this time to pull out the win and the pin for my team."
Trenton Puccinelli also won for the Seahawks and earned crucial bonus points in a 12-3 victory over North Harford's Will Sadowski in the 132-pound championship.
The Gladiators, meanwhile, trailed entering the championship round and needed to win all four of their finals matches to even have a shot. Jared Thomas (126 pounds), Max Sotka (160), Garrett Murray (170) and Sam Alsheimer (182) were all victorious, and Thomas and Murray both earned bonus points. Alsheimer broke a 2-2 tie with a takedown in the final 10 seconds to edge Bel Air's Tom Gomez and put the pressure on Woody to pull through with a fall.
"We only had seven guys in the tournament, so with half our lineup to finish tied for first is pretty impressive," said Glenelg coach Matt Bichner. "A couple guys didn't wrestle as well as they could have and maybe we could have gotten a couple extra bonus points, but I'm happy. Our guys in the finals wrestled really tough."
Old Mill (101 points), Atholton (85) and Broadneck (81) rounded out the top-five teams, while Bel Air (72.5), North County (69), Mt. Hebron (66), Centennial (62.5) and C.M. Wright (43) finished in the top 10.
Bel Air's Brent Lorin (113 pounds) Arundel's Nathan Gainey (120), Jason Kraisser (138) and Old Mill's Chase Pennell (152) won their second consecutive regional titles.
Lorin improved his career record to 86-0 with a first-period pin of South River's Calvin Brumfield. He picked up a quick takedown and followed with a cement mixer for the fall in 1:47.
Lorin said he's not focusing on keeping his undefeated streak in tact. Instead, he just wants to get better one day at a time.
"There's always that opponent out there that's going to be better than you," he said. "That's why I'm constantly training to get better and better so when I do meet that guy I can beat him. ... I think [winning regionals] is crucial. Getting that top seed matters a whole lot."
Gainey (32-4) dominated North County's Casey Payne in a 14-3 major decision victory but was disappointed with his performance. He said he needs to sharpen his game in order to win his second straight state title at next week's MPSSAA state tournament at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.
"It wasn't one of my best matches," Gainey said. "I mean, I still performed but I think I got a little too relaxed. ... He got a takedown in the second period and it didn't tear down my confidence but it upset me a little bit. I know that's not the type of wrestler I am and I got a little too complacent. Overall, I still dominated but I could do better."
Kraisser (36-1), meanwhile, got off to a slow start against Reservoir junior and defending regional champion Todd Del Tufo before turning it on in the second period. He built a 7-0 lead before getting the pin in 3:13.
"I just started doing my moves," Kraisser said. "Once I got to mat wrestling — I like mat wrestling a little bit more — and I started opening up the match a little bit."
Unlike Kraisser, Pennell (38-2) scored early and often, picking up a takedown in the first few seconds of his finals match against Mt. Hebron's Ali Pender before getting the fall in 1:47.
He said Saturday's title feels much better than the first.
"Last year I got a pin in the regional championship too and it just feels great. There's no feeling like it," Pennell said. "This is definitely the better one. It's my senior year and I get to finish out here on top. One more week left."
North County senior Montez Coleman (31-2) captured the 106-pound title as the No. 1 seed. He held off Atholton sophomore Drew Pruett for a 6-5 victory.
Bel Air senior Scott Miser (44-2) cruised through the 152-pound bracket with two falls and a decision. He beat Edgewood's Ariq Nixon, who was in his second-straight regional final, by fall in 2:49.
C.M. Wright junior Wyatt Graham remained undefeated on the season with a 6-3 victory over Old Mill junior Nasir Bakare in the 195-pound championship. Graham entered last year's regional tournament with an unblemished record before finishing fourth.
Mt. Hebron junior Nick Nordhausen, who was upset in the semifinals at last week's Howard County tournament, took care of business and scored a late escape to beat Meade senior Christopher Bonilla Arocho, 3-2, in the 220 pound title bout.
3A/4A East regional tournament results (top-four placers qualify for state tournament):
Final: Montez Coleman (North County) dec. Drew Pruett (Atholton), 6-5
3rd place: Kevin Hansberger (Glenelg) dec. Isaac Barber (South River), 4-2
Final: Brent Lorin (Bel Air) pinned Calvin Brumfield (South River), 1:47
3rd place: Nick Schardt (Broadneck) dec. Anthony Potter (C.M. Wright), 5-2
Final: Nathan Gainey (Arundel) major dec. Casey Payne (North County), 14-3
3rd place: Yahir Lemus (Mt. Hebron dec. Gabe Vinyard (River Hill), 2-0
Final: Jared Thomas (Glenelg) major dec. Chris Kirchner (North County), 9-1
3rd place: Josh Mitchell (North Harford) dec. Derek Noppinger (Atholton), 11-7
Final: Trenton Puccinelli (South River) major dec. Will Sadowski (North Harford), 12-3
3rd place: Robbie Fleming (Old Mill) dec. Michael Altamirano (Atholton), 4-0
Final: Jason Kraisser (Centennial) pinned Todd Del Tufo (Reservoir), 3:13
3rd place: Jimmy Hayden (Mt. Hebron) dec. Ryan Castro (South River). 7-0
Final: Chase Pennell (Old Mill) pinned Ali Pender (Mt. Hebron), 1:47
3rd place: Cito Altamirano (Atholton) dec. Kyle Williamson (Howard), 5-2
Final: Scott Miser (Bel Air) pinned Ariq Nixon (Edgewood), 2:49
3rd place: Jacob Jones (Glenelg) pinned Pat Hofsted (Severna Park), 2:56
Final: Max Sotka (Glenelg) dec. Amr Narmouq (Centennial), 7-5
3rd place: Sean Billups (Atholton) pinned Josh Keenan (C.M. Wright), 1:40
Final: Garrett Murray (Glenelg) pinned Jason Smith (Old Mill), 1:41
3rd place: Zack Doyle (Broadneck) pinned Tyler Valenzia (Chesapeake), 3:44
Final: Sam Alsheimer (Glenelg) dec. Tom Gomez (Bel Air), 4-2
3rd place: Wyatt Thompson (Broadneck) dec. Jacob Kobus (North County), 3-2 OT
Final: Wyatt Graham (C.M. Wright) dec. Nasir Bakare (Old Mill), 6-3
3rd place: Colin Tracy (Arundel) pinned Joe Lazzari (Atholton), 3:09
Final: Nick Nordhausen (Mt. Hebron) dec. Chris Bonilla Arocho (Meade), 3-2
3rd place: Zach Osborne (South River) pinned Riley Bushman (Severna Park), 3:31
Final: Brendan Woody (South River) pinned Tyler Ecker (Reservoir), 3:13
3rd place: Harry Tompkins (Severna Park) dec. Stanley McCombs (Old Mill), 8-3