McDonogh, South River finish one-two at South River Duals

The McDonogh School wrestling team dominated this year’s South River Duals, but the host team didn’t shrink in the Eagles’ shadow in the slightest.

McDonogh won all nine of its matches and South River went 8-1 at the two-day, 10-team duals tournament in Edgewater Wednesday and Thursday.

“It’s probably the best we’ve wrestled as a group this year,” South River coach John Klessinger said, “but we’ve got a long way to go as well. We’ve got a bunch of big duals coming up.”

The Eagles, who are ranked second in the region in the Baltimore Sun wrestling poll, beat the No. 7 Seahawks 54-30 in Wednesday’s marquee matchup. But Thursday’s most thrilling and competitive match pitted South River and No. 8 Sparrows Point. It provided the feel-good moment of the day and ultimately decided second place from third place.

Sparrows Point went down 15-0 early, but earned three straight pins to move ahead 18-15. The Seahawks took back control with three straight pins from juniors Alex Peterson (220), Ka’Ron Lewis (285) and Mason Smith (106). Sparrows Point charged back and cut South River’s lead to 39-36 with one match to go.

In the deciding match, Calvin Brumfield (138) earned a 4-2 decision that both secured South River’s victory, 42-36, and marked the senior’s 100th career win.

“He’s very level-headed. He communicates well with kids,” Klessinger said of Brumfield, a team co-captain. “He’s not one of those scream-in-your-face kind of kids, and he’s also not the opposite where he doesn’t say anything. What he does the most is he sets examples for others. He does the right thing and then he gets other people to do it.”

At 7-2, Sparrows Point posted the third-best team record of the week.

Peterson and Lewis each went 9-0 and were the top finishers in their respective classes. Lewis has taken over the heavyweight position with ease so far in place of Brendan Woody, a 2017 state champion and Capital Gazette Wrestler of the Year, who graduated.

“If it wasn’t for [Lewis] kind of getting beat up by Woody for two years, he wouldn’t be where he’s at right now,” Klessinger said. “In the middle of last year we started kind of prepping him, knowing that when Woody gets done, he’s gonna be our guy.”

Isaac Barber (120) went 8-1 for South River, Brumfield was 7-2 and Trenton Puccinelli bounced back from a 2-3 start Wednesday to finish 6-3. Among the opponents he defeated Thursday were two state-placers and another state qualifier from 2017.

In another highlight from Thursday, Puccinelli recorded a reverse takedown in the final seconds of his match against Reservoir to turn a 2-1 deficit into a victorious 3-2 decision.

“ That’s Trenton’s game, anyway. He’s a good scrambler,” Klessinger said. “He’s savvy, so he ends up in the right position a lot. For what happened, there’s really no technique per se, as much as the person that gets in the right position first is going to win that position.”

Meanwhile, eight McDonogh wrestlers went 9-0: Ray Cable (132), Caden Moreno (138), Grant Gorvette (145), Harrison Trahan (152), Alex Laveck (160), Dom Solis (170), Garrett Kappes (182) and Jack Wimmer (195).

McDonogh wrestled in tournaments in Ohio and Delaware earlier this season, but this was the start of the Eagles’ dual meet season, head coach Pete Welch said.

“It’s great because we don’t normally get to see these public schools in the state and they’re some good competition,” Welch said. “Our team’s done well, but there’s been a lot of great individual matches that our kids get to see different people, not the same kids all the time.”

It was also the Eagles’ first appearance at the South River Duals, and their stellar, undefeated performance put the public schools on notice.

“For everybody, for our team at least, it really just showed us the different level (of competition),” Klessinger said. “Those kids have been wrestling for a long time. It’s evident.”

The Northeast Eagles and Kent Island Bucs represented the Anne Arundel-Queen Anne’s region at the event. Kent Island finished 3-6 with wins over Northeast, Northern and Reservoir. Dylan Finlay (145) and Nick Leisenring (152) had strong weeks, going 7-2 and 6-3 respectively.

“We’re strong in the middle weights, and they need to continue to push in practice and bring the level up in the room, and the lower weights and upper weights can catch up,” Kent Island coach Tommy Sitar said.

The Bucs are regulars at the South River Duals.

“A lot of state-ranked guys here. You definitely can use that as a measuring stick to see where you’re at compared to where you want to be,” Sitar said.

Northeast went 1-8 with a victory over Reservoir, but top individual finisher Kyle Preston went 7-2 in the 138-pound class. Eagles head coach Chris Dyke agreed with the prevailing sentiment that this was the best competition his team has faced all year.

South Carroll will be worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks. The Cavaliers finished fourth at 6-3, and their two top wrestlers—Dakota Bowers (120) and last year’s Class 2A/1A 120-pound state champion, Travis Crawford (126)—went 9-0 at South River.

South Carroll head coach Matt Thomas said he was happy with how he saw his wrestlers grow between the two days of the tournament, and the depth of some of their opponents’ rosters provided a contrast to what the team was used to when competing in Carroll County.

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