December is all about learning for Century’s wrestling team.
Last weekend, the Knights opened their season with a trip to Hagerstown for a dual-meet tournament. Century got nine matches in, a welcome situation for Steve Willingham. The third-year coach has a mix of youth and experience, and it was tested in the tourney.
Century posted three wins but lost six matches, leaving some time to prepare for Thursday night’s home opener against Atholton. The Raiders of Howard County prevailed 53-21, but Willingham and the Knights say they see progress.
“We’ve got … three or four guys who are new to the lineup,” Willingham said. “I like the way they want to learn. They’re attentive in practice, they’re constantly trying to do better. They really have an eye for just trying to want to learn wrestling.”
Century got wins from Jake Hurst (106 pounds), Devon Sikkenga (152), Alex Ellis (182), Thomas Morey (220), and DJ Fair (285). Atholton reeled off six consecutive wins, however, and took control in the middle of the match.
Hurst and Fair each won by forfeit for the Knights (3-7).
“I’m working with our two heavyweights,” Morey said about freshman Eric Forsberg and Fair, a sophomore. “They’re both ‘first-years.’ I’ve just been practicing with them. I’ve been teaching the [junior varsity] kids the basic rules. That’s just our jobs. This is my 12th year wrestling. I’ve got the rules down.”
Morey enjoyed a first-period pin in his bout, which started an 18-point run for Century in the early going. The home team led 21-12 before Atholton started its own scoring spree.
The Raiders started with a tech fall from Peter Frazier (113), and added pins from David Panda (120), Hamzah Alkhawaldeh (132), Derek Noppinger (138), and Michael Altamarino (145).
Century’s Sikkenga ended the run with a 6-4 win at 152 — the senior drew even with Jay Desmarais with less than one minute remaining in the third period, then scored a takedown to go ahead.
The outcome was decided by then, however.
Willingham credited the Knights’ leaders, from Morey and fellow senior Billy Bentley to junior Stephen Hurst, for doing their part in keeping things focused during practice. That mindset will translate onto the mat, the coach said.
“We have a lot of positives going for us,” Willingham said. “Tonight we didn’t see that. I didn’t like the score was going to be quite like that.”
Century has a dual meet with Glenelg set for Dec. 20 before its holiday break begins. The Knights are in the field at the annual Francis Scott Key holiday tournament, which is scheduled for Dec. 27.
Their Carroll County Athletic League schedule isn’t slated to start until Jan. 3 with a home match against Winters Mill, the reigning regular-season champions.
Willingham said before the season he expected Century to compete in the CCAL. And he expects guys such as Bentley and Morey, whom he said he has coached since they were 5 years old, to step in as leaders.
Morey said he’s ready for the challenge.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We’ve already improved as a team. We’re doing much better than we did last year. I’m happy with the improvement. Obviously, we’re looking for more.”
170: Sean Billups (A) pinned Jake Eggert (C), 4:48 [6-0]
182: Alex Ellis (C) dec Michael Johnson (A), 11-8 [6-3]
195: Desmond Craig (A) pinned Westin Whitehead (C), 1:29 [12-3]
220: Thomas Morey (C) pinned David Nguyen (A), 1:25 [12-9]
285: DJ Fair (C) fft. [12-15]
106: Jake Hurst (C) fft. [12-21]
113: Peter Frazier (A) tech fall Carson Fitzgerald, 17-2 [17-21]
120: David Panda (A) pinned Lorenzo Lira (C), 0:34 [23-21]
126: Drew Pruett (A) fft. [29-21]
132: Hamzah Alkhawaideh (A) pinned Jake Armstrong (C), 1:38 [35-21]
138: Derek Noppinger (A) pinned Stephen Hurst (C), 1:36 [41-21]
145: Michael Atamarino (A) pinned Nick Shuyler (C), 0:34 [47-21]
152: Devon Sikkenga (C) dec. Jay Desmarais (A), 6-4 [47-24]