HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Montgomery Blair won the first annual Hammond Duals Invitational on Saturday, knocking off the host Golden Bears, 39-19, in the championship match to cap the two-day tournament with a 9-0 record.
Hammond finished 9-1 while River Hill came in third place with a 6-2 mark. Lansdowne (5-3), Liberty (5-3) and Westminster (5-4) also finished with winning records.
“We had a pretty good weekend,” said Blazers coach Tim Grove. “Going into that match [against Hammond], I knew every match was going to be close. We have similar squads with similar strengths and we were all battered and bruised, but we had one more so we had to step up and see what we could do. They exceeded my expectations. We won just about every toss up and then more.”
Blair, which went 5-0 in the pools — including a victory against River Hill — before defeating Bowie and Lansdowne in the championship rounds, improved to 23-4 overall on the season. Rudy Ngougni (220 pounds) and Ryan Holland (152) went undefeated for the Blazers.
“This is my third year at Blair so I’ve seen the progression every year,” Grover said. “Kids are starting to buy into the system and they’re working their butts off every day at practice.”
Golden Bears coach Will Yeo and his team was looking to win its third tournament of the year after going undefeated to win the Joppatowne Duals and Westminster Duals but fell flat against Blair. Hammond (29-4) defeated county rival River Hill, 33-30, in a heated match just before taking on the Blazers, but Yeo said his team failed to answer the bell in the final.
“I don’t care about winning the match or the tournament; what I care about is how you respond to a positive or a negative,” Yeo said. “We had a positive and beat a really tough River Hill team — those kids scrap real hard, it was contentious and it got a little chippy, but I was wondering how our kids were going to respond with a success and they didn’t respond well at all. If you look at counties, regions and states, if you’re just happy to get to the finals you’re not going to be able to achieve anything. It’s the same thing in life.”
Only Tyler Walters (195) made it through the weekend unscathed, but all of Hammond’s other wrestlers took at least one loss. None of their grapplers went undefeated in any of their other dual-meet tournaments.
The Hawks (21-6) went 4-1 in the pools and lost by just five points to Blair, 35-30, and by three to Hammond. Coach Kevin Cannon said those results prove just how far his team has come in recent weeks, considering they lost to the Blazers, 42-19, in a dual meet on Dec. 21 and to the Golden Bears, 46-27, in a county meet on Dec. 12.
“I think we wrestled well. Blair only beat us by five and we were right there with Hammond, and we’re still not wrestling our best but we’re getting better,” said Cannon. “Even in three weeks we’ve closed the gap on those two teams so it’s going to be great to see what happens in three more weeks.”
Westminster’s Brad Welsh (145 pounds, lightweight) and Severn’s Jacob Jerosz (170, heavyweight) were named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestlers with undefeated marks.
Welsh, in fact, has a perfect record on the season with more than 30 victories.
“I think the biggest difference for Brad is confidence in himself overall and the situation isn’t too big for him,” Owls coach Mike Flemming said. “He’s got excellent composure and he believes every time he steps out on the mat that he’s going to win. His technique and his conditioning backs it all up.”
War on the Shore
Glenelg finished fourth behind champion Mount Saint Joseph, Damascus and Ceasar Rodney (Del.) and crowned one champion in Jacob Jones (160) at the War on the Shore at Stephen Decatur on Saturday.
Jones, the No. 4 seed, secured three pins and two decisions and knocked off the No. 1 and 2 seeded wrestlers en route to the title. He defeated Daniel Peacher of Nansemond River (Va.), 8-5, in the final after beating top-seeded Mount Saint Joseph’s Jonathan Short, 5-2, in the semifinals.
Max Sotka (170) finished second, losing a 3-2 decision to Mount Saint Joseph’s Justin Henry in the final, after edging Damascus’ Ben Lokos, 2-1, in overtime in the semifinals.
Robbie Baxter (220) placed fourth, Jared Thomas (132), Ian Gwin (138) and Drew Sotka (152) finished fifth, Logan Gwin (113) placed sixth and Kevin Hansberger (120) took seventh.
Mt. Hebron finished second to Owings Mills (187.5 points) with 170 points at the Warpath Invitational at Franklin on Saturday. Franklin finished third and Sparrows Point came in fourth.
Centennial’s Jason Kraisser (145) and Jacob Blyukher (138) won individual titles, while the Vikings’ Yahir Lemus (120), Ali Pender (152) and Nick Nordhausen (285) finished second.
Grapple at the Brook
Reservoir senior Todd Del Tufo (152) and Atholton’s Sean Billups (170) won titles at the Grapple at the Brook at Springbrook on Saturday.