Harford wrestlers fall just shy of state titles

Harford County wrestlers were sniffing the top spot on the awards podium at the Maryland State Wrestling Tournament Saturday, but three were forced to settle for runner-up positions inside the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

Fallston had two runner-ups, Austin Rutkowski at 182 pounds and Alex Helm at 285, while Eric Eckstein of Patterson Mill was second at 220. All were in the Class 1A-2A tournament.

Perryville's Chris Brown did capture a state crown, winning the 120 title in the 1A-2A tournament.

Eckstein lost to Hereford's Brock Turnbaugh, 11-6. Turnbaugh took down Eckstein four times over the first two periods to lead 8-5. Eckstein's points came from escapes, three of which were given by Turnbaugh.

Turnbaugh added an escape in the third period and a late takedown to finish it off.

"I didn't lower my stance, that's all on me," Eckstein said after the bout. "I just kept my feet flat, it's all on me."

Eckstein needed ultimate sudden death overtime to get into the state final.

Eckstein and Necho Freeman of Western STES battled through three periods and three more overtime periods before Eckstein won, 3-2, in ultimate tiebreaker. As the scorer of the match's first point, Eckstein had choice for the final 30-second period. Eckstein was able to escape before the 30 seconds was up, earning the win.

Rutkowski ran into a tough opponent in South Carroll's Jake Pooton, who scored in every period and led 2-0 after one period and 7-0 after two.

The lead quickly jumped to 9-0 early in the third period; Rutkowski's lone point came by escape with 26 seconds left in the match.

"I couldn't be more happier," Rutkowski said referencing the loss. "I didn't even think I'd make it to finals."

Rutkowski earned his spot in the finals with a 3-1 semifinal win over Seth Wagner of Brunswick. Neither wrestler scored a point in the first two periods and Rutkowski took a 1-0 lead a minute into the third period.

Rutkowski then added a takedown for a 3-0 lead, giving Wagner a point in the final seconds with a non-contested escape.

For Helm, his state final was a rematch of last week's region final, a battle with North Caroline's Brion Blades.

The results were the same: Blades pinned Helm 1:42 into the first period.

Blades took down Helm down, but Helm was able to escape. Blades took him down again, but this time to his back to collect the pin.

Helm reached the finals by defeating Robb Donovan of Kent County for the second time in eight days in the semifinal round.

Helm fell behind 3-2 in the first period, but an escape and takedown in period two put Helm up, 5-3.

Helm added a takedown a set of back points at the final buzzer for the 9-4 win.

Other place winners

Patterson Mill sophomore Colin McDonald highlighted additional place winners, taking third at 113 pounds in 1A-2A action.

McDonald was dropped into the consolation bracket with a 10-1 semifinal loss, but won twice to place third.

Among the wins, McDonald beat Kyle Trybus of Bo Manor, 4-0. Trybus had beaten McDonald the previous two weekends.

In the match for third, McDonald used a late third period reversal to score a 4-3 win over Brandon Bekar of Owings Mills.

Four other Harford wrestlers placed sixth: Patterson Mill's Jake Nikkila at 126 in 1A-2A; and Bel Air's David Reagan, 106, Aberdeen's Adric Turner, 220, and C. Milton Wright's Alan Dorsey, 285, were each sixth in 3A-4A.

Brown wins title

Chris Brown won the 1A-2A, 120-pound title over Snow Hill's Camden Fischer, 3-0. It was Fischer that Brown shut out, 5-0, in last week's region final.

In the state win, Brown and Fischer went scoreless into the second period.

The score remained that way until Brown scored an escape with 12 seconds left in the period.

Brown then added a takedown 45 seconds into the final period and controlled Fischer the remaining 1:15.

"I feel like it was a long time coming, I feel great," Brown said after the match. Brown was a state runner-up in two previous tries the past two seasons.

To reach the final, Brown had a tough semifinal match with Cody Matthews of Mountain Ridge. The match needed double overtime after ending the third period in a 1-1 tie.

In the first overtime period, nothing changed as neither wrestler was able to score a takedown.

In the second OT, it was all Brown. In the first 30-second period, Brown started down and with a restart at 14 seconds, Brown rolled into a reversal and near fall. The five-point move propelled Brown to a 9-1 win.

Brown added an escape and takedown in the second 30-second period.

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