Glenelg rolled to another Howard County dual meet victory on Thursday by taking out visiting Atholton, 51-20, to improve to 9-0 in county and 18-0 overall.
The No. 4 Gladiators won nine of 14 bouts, including eight by fall or forfeit, and Atholton coach Bruce Lindblad raved about them following the loss.
“That’s one of the better teams I’ve seen in a while, since we were loaded in 2001 and we won the regional championship,” he said. “They’re pretty darn good. They’re skilled and they’ve been wrestling a long time and it shows. They’re a veteran team.”
The Gladiators have now won 42 consecutive and 52 of their last 53 league dual meets dating back to the beginning of the 2014-15 season. Glenelg coach Matt Bichner said that while it’s nice to rack up wins in one of the better counties in the state, it’s hard to reflect positively if there is no state championship trophy to show off.
“It’s nice to have that many wins against top competition like Atholton, Oakland Mills, River Hill, Hammond, those guys, but at the end of the day if you go undefeated and lose at state duals it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “That’s really where our focus is; to get ready for regions and state duals and finish out this regular season and get ready for the tournaments.”
On Thursday, the Raiders, who are coming off their first tournament victory last weekend at the Falcon Invitational at Winters Mill since that aforementioned 2001 season, struck first. Senior Sean Billups (170), who has just three losses since the start of last season, won a matchup of regional champions. He scored the lone point of the bout with an escape in the third period to beat Drew Sotka, 1-0.
The Gladiators, however, responded with five straight victories to take control of the match. Jake Arnone (182) won a 10-5 decision over Michael Johnson, Sam Alsheimer (195) and Griffin Doyle (285) received forfeits, and Massimo Conti (220) and David Ridenour (106) secured falls within the first minute of their respective bouts.
Just like that, Glenelg held a seemingly insurmountable 27-3 lead, but there was still plenty on the line for Atholton (6-3, 11-6). Peter Frazier (113), David Panda (120) and Drew Pruett (126) all reached the finals at the Falcon Invitational and kept the ball rolling.
Frazier scored the final 12 points of his match to score a major decision against Andres Lopez Campos, and Panda and Pruett, both reigning county champions who are undefeated this season at 21-0, remained perfect. Panda, a junior, pinned Tino Campanile in 3:54, while Pruett, a senior, battled rival Kevin Hansberger in the latest installment of their rivalry. Pruett, who lost to Hansberger in the 2017 county finals, got his revenge and handed Hansberger his first loss of the season, 3-1.
Since the start of last season, Billups, Panda and Pruett have a combined record of 159-14.
“They’re the crux of our team ... and they set the tone in our room. That’s what you do; you look for those guys to set the example for the other kids,” Lindblad said. “We’ve got some good young kids and they see them. It helps build the team when you see guys like that in the room, it really does.”
From there, though, Glenelg rolled. Reed Kraemer (132), reigning county and state champion Jared Thomas (138), Nick Kingsbury (152) and county and region winner Jacob Jones (160) secured falls to close out another blowout win.
“I think we’re wrestling well but I still think there’s room for improvement,” Bichner said. “I think we need to get a little better on bottom; our hand control was lacking tonight and that set up some of their better guys to ride us a little longer, but other than that, we just want to keep building.”
For Atholton, Lindblad was excited to see all each of his championship-potential wrestlers get tested. He expects more of that to come with Oakland Mills, Westminster, River Hill and Tuscarora, as well as the Grapple at the Brook tournament, still ahead on the schedule.
“We’ll just continue to get better,” he said. “We’re ending the season with tough matches, which I like, and hopefully we make it into the [3A East] region duals and if we don’t well head into the county tournament and see what happens.