Four Howard County wrestlers win titles at 4A/3A East regional tournament

Atholton senior Sean Billups, seen taking down Glenelg's Drew Sotka in the 170-pound championship match at the Howard County tournament, upset a defending state champion and won his second straight regional title Feb. 23.
Atholton senior Sean Billups, seen taking down Glenelg's Drew Sotka in the 170-pound championship match at the Howard County tournament, upset a defending state champion and won his second straight regional title Feb. 23. (Jeffrey F. Bill / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD — No Baltimore-area team out of the 4A/3A East region will have a larger presence at states than Atholton. Out of the ten Raiders who competed at Severna Park on Saturday, six are bound for a chance at glory at the state tournament at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro March 1-2.

If coach Bruce Lindblad can instill anything in his wrestlers before then, he hopes it’s a sense of courage.


“No fear. That’s what it comes down to. I’ve been to many state tournaments in my long tenure,” the 29-year coach said. “Who gets that first takedown and who can hit the doubles, that’s what it comes down to. You wrestle right to the end. Sean [Billups] found that out last year in the semifinal match, lost to that kid from Linganore in the last five seconds. The lead is never safe.”

Atholton junior David Panda took that message to heart. Down in the final seconds of his semifinal match, Panda scored, earning a ticket to the finals — and, eventually, his regional victory.


Panda outlasted rival Jagger Clapsadle of Stephen Decatur in an even-scoring battle for the 113-pound title, 10-8. Clapsadle had previously dished Panda’s only loss of the year.

Eleven grapplers from Howard County take home titles at the 2A/1A South regional wrestling tournament at River Hill on February 23, 2019.

“He’d beaten Jagger last year in duals, when we went to Stephen Decatur, he pinned him. This year, he lost to him by three,” Lindblad said. “[Panda] must have had [Clapsadle’s] name up there on his wall. That was his goal, to beat Jagger.”

As Leonardtown’s John Podsednik, a giant in the wrestling realm with a 40-0 record entering the match, bucked Atholton’s Sean Billups to try and shake the Raider for an escape, Billups was sure to keep an arm gripped around Podsednik’s waist.

Keeping two legs on had been a saving grace for Billups; the Atholton senior staved off Podsednik’s late attempts to score on him to claim an 8-5 decision in the 170-pound final.


“He’s probably going to have to see him again. He had the right game plan with the double legs. It worked out well,” Lindblad said. “I always tell the kids — double legs win championships.”

Centennial senior Jason Kraisser — undefeated this winter and since the middle of his sophomore season — completed his four-year regional sweep with the only pin of the finals over Broadneck’s Kyle Keller in the 152-pound championship.

Mt. Hebron junior Bryce Kampert won the 145-pound title with a 6-4 victory against Atholton’s Michael Altamarino.

Mount Saint Joseph junior heavyweight Isaac Righter won the National Preps title at Lehigh University on Saturday, February 23, 2019.

Broadneck’s Vinny Facciponti brushed off surrendering his county throne to Severna Park’s Ty Broadway by defeating the Falcon, 1-0. The 195-pounder is one of four Bruins regional champions and one of four bound for states in Upper Marlboro.

Those are the ingredients for a pretty good day in Broadneck coach Reid Bloomfield’s book.

“They’ve been talented. They’ve been dedicated. Now they’re finally starting to wrestle smart,” Bloomfield said.

Facciponti, for instance, didn’t need a big blowout to secure his first-ever region crown, defeating Broadway 1-0. The senior had been on a grind all week conditioning back from an injury that he’d only been cleared for day off the county championship last Saturday.

“After beating me in the county finals, I was a little shook at first, didn’t know what to do. I got out of [that headspace] the next day, started training and now I’m here. Which is a good thing.”

He’d only been a match away from placing at states last year. Now, he said, he’s ready to “do damage.”

Nick Schardt, who took fifth at states last March, had to abide by Bloomfield’s wrestling smart manta. The 132-pounder’s body contorted so much it’d make a Cirque du Soleil performer envious as Annapolis’ Nate Ditmars’ glue-like grip kept the Bruin from cruising to an easy win. Even as Schardt managed a 5-1 lead, Ditmars closed the gap to one point.

“They realize they don’t have to do it all in one period, that the goal is to win the match, not necessarily to win by 10,” Bloomfield.

Schardt edged out Ditmars, 5-4.

Ernie Smith wins heavyweight championship to lift Oakland Mills (217.5 points) past Glenelg (215.5) in the 50th annual Howard County wrestling tournament at Mt. Hebron on Friday, February 15, 2019.

Broadneck senior Michael Garlington, too, had to wait for the right moment, rather than trying to deploy a constant attack. Old Mill’s Caron Tull was too wily of an opponent, keeping balance when Garlington would get him on one leg.

But in the fourth period, as Tull hopped toward the edge of the circle with his opponent’s grip on his leg, Garlington sussed out the exact point the Patriot’s center of gravity loosened. Garlington dropped him, and won the 138-pound title.

“We’ll see him next week,” Old Mill coach Jim Grim promised Tull after the match.

Tull is one of five Patriots qualified for states next week, including Trinity Killip (106), Damion Mansapit (126), Levi Garren (170) and Nate Fleming (220). Anne Arundel County, as a whole, will carry a large party to the championships — Severna Park will send four, Ron Schlipp (182), Broadway, Connor Saladin (285) and region champion Conor Bowes (220).

Northeast will send three, Billy Katzenberger (138), Jayden Mason (145) and Thomas Gargano (152).

Three teams, Annapolis, North County and Chesapeake, will send two. Ditmars and Kyle Leming (195) represent the Panthers; Chase (113) and Victor Listorti (145) represent the Cougars; Sunny Bhanot (182) and DeShawn Madison (220) represent the Knights.

Arundel will send one Wildcat, 126-pound runner-up Caleb Chaves.

South River was not as successful at the regional level as they had been the year before. Their first finals victory came at the very end as Ka’Ron Lewis (285) furthered his top-heavy 43-1 season with an 8-2 decision over North Point’s Notah McCabe. The Seahawk aims to defend his heavyweight title at states next week.

Regardless of Saturday’s placement, the Seahawks will send five wrestlers to states, just like last year — Mason Smith (106), Isaac Barber (120), Trenton Puccinelli (160), Alex Peterson (220) and Lewis. All but Smith and Lewis earned silver on Saturday; Smith earned bronze with an injured foot.

South River coach John Klessinger knows what his competitors need to do to find success at the state level, no matter what happened at the regional one.

“A lot of it is just having confidence in their own stuff, confidence in their shots, confidence in what they’re doing on top and what they’re doing on bottom,” he said. “The higher level you get, the more you get a little nervous and you start wrestling conservatively. In order for us to be successful, we can’t do that.”

Stephen Decatur, the 3A state dual meet champions, are sending a tournament-high eight wrestlers to the state tournament and had a pair of champions in freshman Noah Reho (126) and senior Lukas Layton (182).


106 — Kielin Huff (North Point) 33-7, So. over Shamar Baines (Stephen Decatur) 28-9, Jr. (Dec 9-6)


113 — David Panda (Atholton) 36-1, Jr. over Jagger Clapsadle (Stephen Decatur) 40-3, Jr. (Dec 10-8)


120 — Sean Vosburgh (Leonardtown) 39-3, Jr. over Isaac Barber (South River) 34-7, Jr. (MD 15-4)

126 — Noah Reho (Stephen Decatur) 41-5, Fr. over Caleb Chaves (Arundel) 35-4, So. (Dec 4-3)

132 — Nick Schardt (Broadneck) 33-2, Sr. over Nate Ditmars (Annapolis) 24-4, Jr. (Dec 5-4)

138 — Michael Garlington (Broadneck) 31-6, Sr. over Caron Tull (Old Mill) 35-6, So. (SV-1 3-1)

145 — Bryce Kampert (Mt. Hebron) 29-8, Jr. over Michael Altamarino (Atholton) 30-19, Jr. (Dec 6-4)

152 — Jason Kraisser (Centennial) 36-0, Sr. over Kyle Keller (Broadneck) 32-4, Sr. (Fall 3:35)

160 — Trevor Crowley (Leonardtown) 40-3, Sr. over Trenton Puccinelli (South River) 36-4, Sr. (Dec 7-4)

170 — Sean Billups (Atholton) 34-3, Sr. over John Podsednik (Leonardtown) 40-1, Sr. (Dec 8-5)

182 — Lukas Layton (Stephen Decatur) 35-10, Sr. over Michael Johnson (Atholton) 23-14, Sr. (MD 13-5)

195 — Vinny Facciponti (Broadneck) 26-2, Sr. over Ty Broadway (Severna Park) 32-4, So. (Dec 1-0)

220 — Conor Bowes (Severna Park) 30-4, Sr. over Alex Peterson (South River) 31-9, Sr. (Dec 2-1)

285 — Ka’Ron Lewis (South River) 43-1, Sr. over Notah McCabe (North Point) 9-1, Sr. (Dec 8-2)

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