HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Glenelg entered the season knowing it likely had to get through Damascus to win a state championship, and on Wednesday and Thursday it had its first crack at the Swarmin’ Hornets at the Damascus Holiday Tournament.
The Gladiators finished runner-up to the Hornets with 120 points in the hybrid dual-individual tournament and crowned two champions — Kevin Hansberger (120 pounds) and Jared Thomas (132). Jacob Jones (160), Max Sotka (170) and Robbie Baxter (220) placed second.
Damascus scored 217.5 points and crowned a tournament-high five champions with three runners-up.
“I thought it was pretty good. It was nice to get two champions,” Glenelg coach Matt Bichner said. “It’s a tough tournament, so I’m happy for Kevin and Jared. We wanted to have a little bit more hardware ... we lost a couple close matches we could’ve won but we won a couple close ones, too. All in all, it was a good experience.”
Thomas, a third-place state finisher last year, won one of the toughest brackets in the tournament with a wild 11-8 decision over Johnny McLaughlin, who also placed third at last year’s state tournament, in the championship. Thomas gave up a takedown in the first period and a reversal in the second and entered the third period down, 4-0. He cut the deficit to 4-3 but McLaughlin built his lead back to four with an escape and takedown.
Down 7-3, Thomas answered with an escape and takedown to make it 7-6, and after an escape by McLaughlin gave him an 8-6 lead, Thomas not only tied the match at 8-8 with a takedown but won it with three near-fall points in a five-point move in the final 15 seconds.
In total, Thomas, who is 15-0 this season, scored all 11 points in the final two minutes to beat McLaughlin in the championship for the second straight season. He also pinned Oakdale’s Wyatt McCoy in 1 minutes, 58 seconds in the semifinal in a rematch of the consolation final from last year’s state tournament that Thomas won, 11-0. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding lightweight for his performance.
“I was thinking get to neutral because that’s where my strong point is,” Thomas said of being down 4-0 after two periods. “I worked my way back two points at a time, one point at a time. ... [My tournament] was good up to that last match. I definitely didn’t get a good warm-up in and it definitely showed in the first two periods.”
Hansberger, who is 15-2 this season, also trailed entering the final period of his championship match against Keagan Nolan of Locust Grove (Ga.) before dominating in last two minutes. He was down, 6-3, before getting two near-fall points with a headlock and then secured three more near-fall points with a cross-face cradle to win 8-6.
“It means a lot. It’s my second first-place I’ve ever gotten other than counties last year, so it’s nice to have another medal and another win in the belt,” Hansberger said. “I’m really shooting for the end of the year — counties, regions and states. That’s my goal right now.”
Jones fell to Damascus’ John Allan Furgeson, 3-2, in the final, while Sotka lost to Huntingtown’s Tristin Breen, 16-3. Breen edged Sotka, 3-1, with a takedown in the final seconds in the pool round on Wednesday.
Logan Gwin (113) and Drew Sotka (152) placed fourth for the Gladiators.
No. 14 Broadneck, which placed sixth with 68 points, had two wrestlers in the finals and had one champion. Owen Joyce (145) edged Damascus’ Josh Creegan, 3-1, in the final, while Michael Garlington (138) lost to Poolesville’s Colin Savage, 11-3. Vinny Facciponti (195) and Mack Groah (152) placed third.
A year after going 5-5 at the Westminster Duals, Hammond (19-1) won the two-day event on Thursday by finishing 9-0. The Golden Bears beat No. 15 Owings Mills, 43-33, in the championship match.
“Coming in we knew there would be a bunch of quality teams and the focus was on taking everything one period and one match at a time. All of our kids stepped up at one point or another with big matches throughout the tournament,” Hammond coach Will Yeo said. “These duals are tough because you get 8-10 matches in two days, so you really see what kind of kids you have on the second day. As a staff we are overall very pleased with them for winning a tournament they finished ninth or tenth in a year ago.”
The Golden Bears also beat Manchester Valley (47-16), Franklin (43-31), Liberty (42-24), Northern Garrett (53-24), No. 9 Dunbar (35-34 on Criteria H), Linganore (42-28), Westminster (51-22) and Northwest (39-38).
While none of Hammond’s wrestlers went undefeated, Tyler Walters (195), Shehzan Dahya (113), and Loic Tueguo (220) went 8-1, while Justin Andrews (285) went 7-2.
Marriotts Ridge finishes second at Iron Eagle Duals
Marriotts Ridge, Mt. Hebron and River Hill all wrapped up the Iron Eagle Duals on Thursday, finishing the second day of the event that was originally scheduled for Dec. 9 but was wiped out because of weather.
The Mustangs (9-4) finished second to No. 10 Bel Air and went 3-1 on the day to finish 8-1 overall. River Hill (13-3) upset No. 13 Mt. Hebron, 37-27, to come in third place and go 3-1 on the day and 8-1 overall. The Vikings (13-3) went 2-2 on the day and 6-2 overall, losing to the Mustangs in the semifinals.
Reservoir went 0-9 at the South River Duals on Wednesday and Thursday but senior Todd Del Tufo (152) went 6-3. He edged South Carroll’s Tyler Harbison, a returning state finalist, but fell to Kent Island’s Dylan Finlay, South River’s Trenton Puccinelli and McDonogh’s Grant Gorvett.