The 45-30 final score didn’t necessarily indicate how close the River Hill versus Mt. Hebron dual meet was on Thursday night.
Take away the two forfeits the Vikings gave up, which ultimately turned what could’ve been a one-match result into a 15-point Hawks win, and the meeting between two of the better Howard County wrestling teams came down to a handful of bouts that went the way of River Hill’s veteran grapplers.
Suffice to say, the young Mt. Hebron (2-4 Howard County, 8-7 overall) squad gave the visiting Hawks (3-2, 10-4) everything they could handle and won all five of their matches by fall, although it could’ve been more. Jonah Richardson (132 pounds), Michael Crisitello (145) and Will Henrickson (152) all had to fight off their backs for River Hill but did so and bounced back to win their respective bouts. The leaders stepped up and did what they needed for the team, Hawks coach Kevin Cannon said, and, in the case of several wrestlers, that means bumping a weight class for the overall good of the team.
“They’re all out of weight class. They’re captains and that’s what captains do: they wrestle up if you need them and they cut weight if you need them to,” Cannon said. “They’re here to help the team and that’s what they do. You could see they were physically outsized. ... As much as we got pinned, we did fight off our backs. Crisitello, Henrickson, Jonah, even Jack Sheppard, they could’ve blown us out. But I saw more effort and more fight and wanting to score.”
“They won. That’s the bottom line. They came in here and they won,” he said. “As far as our guys are concerned, we’ve got work to do and we’re going to do it. We’ve got a young group and they’re not going wrestle the same matches come the county tournament that they wrestled today. I look forward to the progression of the team and the direction we’re going.”
River Hill never trailed in the match. Jack Island (170) and Sheppard (182) secured first-period falls to open the dual meet, and after Mt. Hebron’s Jake Witlin (195) answered with a pin, forfeits to David Flynn (220) and Angel Rivera (285) put the Hawks in front, 24-6. Then decisions by David Bahktiar (106) and Dyson Muller (113) extended the lead to 30-6.
But the Vikings rally started with sophomore Jack McGuire, who continued his breakout season with an impressive victory over Eric Robinson at 120 pounds. Robinson secured the first takedown in the opening period but McGuire tied the match at two in the second and then took a 4-3 lead into the third. The final period belonged to McGuire as well, as he earned an escape, takedown and two near-fall points before pinning Robinson, who placed sixth in the state last season, in 5:43.
“Hard work doesn’t lie. The kid put in the time,” Killo said of McGuire. “You put in the time and you start to see the results. He’s the hardest worker in the room, day in and day out. He’s the guy when nobody is watching is working and it’s paying off. Good things are going to happen if he keeps it up.”
Moud Abdel-Halim (126) won via pin to cut River Hill’s lead to 30-18, and the Vikings bench exploded when Xavier Donnelly (132) nearly pinned Richardson twice. But the Hawks sophomore overcame a 7-3 deficit to get the fall, and after the two teams traded pins, time had run out for Mt. Hebron to mount a comeback.
Henrickson edged Bryce Kampert, 13-6, in another anticipated matchup at 152 pounds and the Vikings’ Nick Murphy closed the dual with their fifth pin.
“We have work to do over the break,” Cannon said. “We were happy with Hammond [a 36-30 loss on Tuesday]. We rolled with them and were happy with that. We haven’t beat Mt. Hebron in three years, so this is a good win.”
River Hill (3-2, 10-4) — 45, Mt. Hebron (2-4, 8-7) — 30
170: Jack Island (RH) pinned Noah Manasterli (MH), 1:58 [6-0]
182: Jack Sheppard (RH) pinned Rohit Priyakumar (MH), 1:14 [12-0]
195: Jake Witlin (MH) pinned Joe Yang (RH), 3:54 [12-6]