COACH OF THE YEAR
Pritzker, who just completed his 26th season at Owings Mills, said that he has never had a team as close-knit as this year's group. It helps explain how the Eagles found a way to capture the Class 2A-1A state dual meet championship on Feb. 16, upsetting defending champ Rising Sun in the semifinals before grinding out a 35-34 win over Glenelg in the final. It was the program's 11th state title (seven tournament championships, four dual meet crowns).
Pritzker, who has a 395-54 career record, guided the Eagles to an 18-0 dual meet record, a second-place finish at the Baltimore County tournament and third place at the Class 2A-1A state tournament, where junior 103-pounder Avi Friedman won an individual title.
"They were best friends and didn't want to let each other down. They really wrestled for each other and there was a different hero in each match," Pritzker said.
CO-WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR
Josh Asper Hereford
Shortly after becoming the third four-time public schools state champion, the Bulls' 171-pound senior talked about the importance of hard work and the benefits that come with it. "The best things in life come when you work really hard - that's when it feels really great."
Asper's ability to outwork opponents was his best asset as he closed out his stellar high school career with a 151-7 mark. Asper, who will wrestle at Maryland, went 37-0 to complete his second straight undefeated season and end his high school career with 87 straight wins.
"Josh is the kind of kid that everybody should look up to and can learn from," Hereford coach Ron Causey said. "We all have goals in life that we think about and strive for and he thinks: 'Here's the goal and I'm going after it.' He takes the mind-set that he knows he will work harder than everybody else and also has the confidence that he will win."
Josh Fitch McDonogh
The Eagles' 140-pound senior found an ideal way to close out a brilliant four-year career when he captured his first National Preps championship on Feb. 23 at Lehigh University, where he will continue his wrestling career. Fitch leaves McDonogh as a four-time Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and private schools state champion, finishing the season with a 49-3 mark that included 21 pins.
Fitch, a tri-captain, brought poise and confidence to the mat, as he led the No. 1 Eagles to their third straight MIAA and private schools championships. He went 141-25 in his four years with 69 pins.
"He just had a great year and great career," McDonogh coach Pete Welch said. "He's amazingly focused on competition day, and he doesn't get rattled - that's always half the battle. He came in as a freshman very focused, and that and his mental toughness increased every year."
Dan Bichner Glenelg
A state runner-up the previous two seasons, the 135-pound senior was determined to reach the top of the podium. He earned a 5-2 decision over Smithsburg senior James Reilley to claim his elusive state title in the Class 2A-1A ranks and help lead the Gladiators to their first team title.
Bichner finished the season with a 37-3 mark, becoming the eighth wrestler in Howard County to win four county titles. Set to wrestle at Maryland next year, Bichner, who was Howard County's Wrestler of the Year, finished his high school career with a 137-13 mark.
Deonte Carter Woodlawn
A Nebraska state champion last year, the 125-pound junior took Maryland competition by storm, going 34-0 this season, capped by the Class 4A-3A state title.
Carter made an immediate impression, earning Most Outstanding Lightweight at the season-opening Big 20 Invitational at Perry Hall. After capturing Baltimore County and Class 4A-3A North titles, he grinded out an 8-5 decision over Arundel's Joe Kidwell to win the state crown.
Tim Chase Glenelg
Much like his team, Chase was able to impressively get over the hump this season, capturing the Class 2A-1A 152-pound title to put an exclamation point on the program's first state championship.
The senior, a third-place finisher at states last year, finished this season with a 35-1 mark, capturing his second straight county championship. At the Mount Mat Madness tournament, Chase was named Most Outstanding Wrestler after winning the 152-pound class as the fifth seed.
Maurice Fleming Northeast
In capturing his second straight Class 4A-3A state title to go with the private schools state crown at Gilman earlier in his career, the 140-pound senior showed he was in a class by himself at the state tournament.
Fleming opened with two pins and followed that with consecutive technical falls - handling Northern of Calvert's Jeff Williams, 21-6, in the final. Coming off an undefeated junior season, Fleming went 38-1 this year to post a 132-11 career mark.
Avi Friedman Owings Mills
When the Eagles' 103-pound junior scored a second-period pin against River Hill freshman Cameron Kirby, sealing his first Class 2A-1A state tournament championship, it put an exclamation point on a perfect season.
Friedman finished 38-0, capturing the Baltimore County championship and North region before dominating the state tournament by pinning three of his four opponents. Friedman, who competed in the junior leagues as a freshman, is 75-4 in his two varsity seasons at Owings Mill.
Frank Goodwin Mount St. Joseph
The 112-pound sophomore finished the season with a 49-5 mark and 28 pins, coming back from an injury that kept him out of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and private schools state tournament to finish second at the National Preps.
With a strong foundation and an aggressive, calculated approach, Goodwin won four tournaments during the season, highlighted by his win at Mount Mat Madness.
Bubby Graham Annapolis
The Anne Arundel County Wrestler of the Year the past two seasons, Graham, a 160-pound senior, closed out a stellar four-year career with a third straight state title and second consecutive undefeated season.
Set to wrestle at American University next year, Graham manhandled the Class 4A-3A class at the state tournament, racking up two pins before getting a technical fall and a third pin over North Harford senior Tom Stewart in the title bout. Graham went 121-8 in his four years and ended his career with 97 straight wins.
Karl Green Mount St. Joseph
There was a long list of talented wrestlers in the private schools' 285-pound class. The Gaels' sophomore made an impressive season-long climb to the top of it. Claiming the MIAA title with a 6-1 decision over Gilman's Anthony Ferguson and then edging McDonogh's Lane Clelland, 3-1, to win the private schools state crown, Green finished the season 48-8 with 24 pins. He closed out the year with a third-place showing at National Preps.
Curtis Holmes McDonogh
Competing in one of the deepest and most talented weight classes among the private schools, the 145-pound junior captured his third straight MIAA championship to go with a second consecutive private schools state title. He also placed seventh at National Preps.
Highly competitive and physically dominant, Holmes went 42-10 this season to take a 113-22 mark into his senior year. A three-sport standout, Holmes also excels in football and lacrosse.
Ben Levin McDonogh
The Eagles' 130-pound senior captain brought a non-stop work ethic to the mat and the practice room, wearing out opponents and inspiring teammates.
Levin took first place in the private schools, second at the MIAA tournament and fifth at National Preps to finish 47-10 this season with 28 pins. In his four-year career, Levin was 145-52 with 56 pins.
Scott Mantua River Hill
A second straight state title was well earned by Mantua, who captured a tough Class 2A-1A 112-pound class with an 8-4 decision over previously undefeated Lex Ozias from Southern of Garrett County.
By finishing with a 33-3 mark this season, the junior improved to 69-4 in his two seasons at River Hill after dominating the junior leagues through his freshman year. Mantua's strong wrestling base and ability to execute his game plan have played a major role in his success.
Alex Pagnotta McDonogh
Aggressive yet composed, the 189-pound junior was an anchor in the upper weights for the Eagles, finishing the season with a 46-3 mark that included his second straight MIAA championship and first private schools state title.
Pagnotta, who matured into a strong leader and will be counted on for more of the same next year, has a 119-25 career mark with 39 pins. He had a strong showing at National Preps with a third-place finish.
Nick Schenk McDonogh
Coming off an undefeated freshman season at 103, including a National Prep title, Schenk moved up to the 119-pound class and was once again dominant in the metro area. The talented sophomore finished the season 47-5, winning his second straight MIAA and private schools state titles and placing sixth at National Preps.
A sound technician who is aggressive on his feet and constantly attacking, Schenk is 90-5 in his two years at McDonogh with 27 pins.
Jason Thomen North Carroll
The 215-pound senior captured his second straight Carroll County and Class 4A-3A North regional titles before placing third at states.
Thomen, also a standout football player for the Panthers, finished the season with a 35-3 mark, losing a tough 8-6 overtime decision to eventual champ Josh Frederick of Damascus in the state semifinals before coming back to place third. Thomen was a state runner-up in his junior season.
No. School Record
1. McDonogh 19-3
2. Glenelg 16-2
3. Mount St. Joseph 13-10
4. Owings Mills 18-0
5. Archbishop Curley 14-2
6. Old Mill 18-3
7. North Carroll 15-2
8. Hereford 20-2
9. South Carroll 16-5
10. John Carroll 32-5
11. Milford Mill 15-5
12. Atholton 18-5
13. Loyola 7-5
14. River Hill 16-12
15. Annapolis 17-3
Other teams considered -- Chesapeake-AA (23-12); Liberty (19-6), Northeast (20-6), Oakland Mills (15-4), South River (28-3).
Wt. Name School Cls.
103 Kevin Beck Atholton So. 103 Brett Przywara Arch. Curley Fr.
112 Ron Vaughters Old Mill Fr. 119 Cam Hobin South Carroll Sr.
125 Brian Marcoux Glenelg Sr. 130 Ben Schaufele Mount St. Joseph So.
135 Dan Orem Mount St. Joseph Jr. 140 Chris Stinnett Glenelg Sr.
145 Patrick Downey Mount St. Joseph Fr. 152 Matt Cross Bel Air Sr.
160 Zac Stavish South Carroll Sr. 160 Kramer Whitelaw McDonogh Sr.
171 Tyler Mullen South Carroll Sr. 189 Ethan Brown Old Mill Sr.
215 Andrew Ewers Parkville Sr. 285 Mike Santiago Oakland Mills Sr.
Note: Teams selected by Glenn Graham after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.