PARKTON — Hereford's state title banner is pretty empty. Only one year, enlargened to fill the space, and one title — 1970 — spotlighting that the Bulls were better than any of their opponents.
The Bulls that wrangled Pikesville down on Thursday night looked more than capable of changing that in the not too distant future. Even with two would-be starters, Nick Moore and Grayson Welsh, likely out for the season thanks to football injuries, Hereford coach Ron Causey sees a bright future.
"We're really young. We've got perhaps four freshman starters and a lot of sophomores. But I will tell you," he said, "I think we can work towards next year or the year after."
Hereford amassed seven pins and carried a top-heavy lead to their first win of the winter, 63-15, over the Panthers. It's still too early for the Bulls to know truly what this means for them this winter. Causey believes the first big test will come via Urbana, Manchester Valley and Glenelg.
"And we've got a ways to go," the coach said.
Last year's top Bull, Jimmy Kells (182), was dominant in his first performance, locking Pikesville's Elijah Edwards down from start to a pin. He bumped up from the 160 class with the intention to wrestle up to 195, and even though the three-sport athlete doesn't have time for the mat in the offseason, Causey's already seen growth in his star.
"When it's winter, I put all my heart into wrestling," Kells said. His eyes are on the immediate future. Four more wins, he said, would elevate him to the 100 Club.
He wasn't the only Bull to pull a pin. Spritely Jack Amos, in the 113 class, charged Iaziz Mukhammadkulov for the quick takedown. Senior Levis Contreras (220) in his first-ever wrestling match in a Hereford-maroon singlet, whipped opponent Tyler Teamer to the mat in mere seconds. When fans realized how green their victor actually was in the parking lot post-match, they chanted his name until he got in his car.
Not every Bulls' win was easy, though. In the 285 class, Josh Goodwin and Charles Davis were locked in upright combat, both unable to find the weak point in one another well through the sixth period. As Causey cried, "Go for it!" Goodwin prevailed on a pin, but not until he'd battled for seven-and-1/2 minutes.
Even so, that matchup was proof of Hereford's deep bench.
"We had guys step in where our injured guys were and got two victories, 220 and heavyweight," Causey said. "That was surprising."
A few Panthers proved Pikesville had teeth, though, especially Christan Logan. The 132-pounder looked down for the count in the first period under the weight of junior Jack Wickiser, ranked fifth in the region. But Logan managed to get to his feet and survive.
In the third period, it seemed as though Wickiser had outlasted his foe, pressing him to the mat as seconds drained and the Hereford bench roared.
Then, Logan sprang to life. He flipped Wickiser and danced around the circle in victory. Even the Bulls coaches embraced him afterward. Logan, who brings a smile to his coach Robert Jones' face, exemplifies the spirit the Panthers are trying to cultivate.
"We don't quit," Jones said. "We just keep going, keep going. I told all of them, 'We're going to get better.'"
Pikesville also had an early victor in senior Josh Lumpkin (170), who dropped junior Gavin Walter in under a minute. Lumpkin is one of just three seniors on the roster, who with 14 freshmen are merely showing hints of what Panthers wrestling might look like down the road. Even Jones is only in his first year with Pikesville.
"We're all learning together," he said.