If the first step to winning the state wrestling tournament is getting your guys to Cole Field House, River Hill is off to a good start.
The Hawks crowned three regional champions — Michael Beck (120), Logan Kirby (195) and Cory Daniel (220) — Saturday in the 4A/3A East regional tournament at Northeast High, and placed five more wrestlers in the top four to qualify for next weekend's state tournament at the University of Maryland.
"Our goal was to try to get seven guys through out of the ten who qualified for regionals," coach Brandon Lauer said. "We got eight so that was awesome. It's such a tough region, every match is a dog fight...we're excited."
River Hill finished with 147.5 points, easily holding off runner-up Bel Air (95), the team that River Hill defeated two weeks ago to win the regional dual championship.
"It's very good that we qualified eight for states, that'll have a great impact next week," said Daniel, who pinned Aberdeen's Adric Turner in 59 seconds in the finals. "I'm proud of everyone, even the guys that took fifth and sixth."
Reservoir edged Glenelg, 82.5-82, for third place.
Daniel, who has committed to wrestle for University of North Carolina next year, was expecting a rematch with Reservoir's Michael Sullivan in the regional finals. But Sullivan — a Mount Mat Madness champion and county finalist to Daniel — suffered a season ending rib injury in practice earlier this week. Sullivan has committed to wrestle for Washington & Lee University next year.
"I was very surprised, (coach Brandon) Lauer came into my lunch yesterday and told me, and my jaw dropped. I thought I was going to have a rematch, I was healthy, I was ready to go, I wanted to wrestle him," said Daniel, who has now won 84 consecutive matches. "I feel really bad for him, I hope he's OK, and I hope he comes back better."
Kirby (42-1) also pinned his finals opponent, Meade's Segun Aboye.
"We knew if we just wrestled hard, everyone could score points for the team. Everyone won at least one match. We got bonus points, which we stress as a team. And it showed up on the board," said Kirby, who has committed to wrestle for Harvard next year. "If I can wrestle as well as I can, I can't lose, I'm set. Our training regiment helps us peak at the end of the year, and everyone on the team seems to be on the same level, as long as we wrestle how we've been trained we'll be fine."
Wilde Lake senior Malik Jackson (152) had a very memorable tournament, earning his 100th career victory and first regional title by edging Bel Air's John Cross, 8-4, in the finals.
"He came out strong ... I took some bad shots but I just kept pushing forward like my coach (Nick Schenk) told me," Jackson said. "He told me 'You may be the little dog, but you've got to bark constantly during the match, stand up to the big dog and bark.' I was the second seed, I just came out and I wanted it so bad. I don't care what seed you are."
Jackson and Cross were tied, 4-4, in the third period before Jackson scored the go-ahead takedown with 1:15 left. Cross injured his ankle in the process, but finished the match.
"I was like I've got to keep the pressure on him, he's hurt, I can't let up now. I looked at the clock, I saw the time left, and said I didn't put in four years worth of hours, not to just give up in this last one minute," said Jackson, who trained all week with Howard's 182-pound champion Jared Rodriguez. "I could never let my guard down…he was injured but I still had to wrestle my match ... I was concerned, I don't want anyone to get hurt ever in competition. It was a great match and I'm glad that I got a chance to see some good competition like that for next weekend."
River Hill's Michael Beck defeated Mt. Hebron's Jeff Hayden, 4-3, in a rematch of the Howard County finals.
Reservoir's Mason Kilcarr (132) improved to 32-1 with his 4-0 win over Broadneck's Connor Joyce, and Centennial sophomore Austin Kraisser (145) improved to 34-1 with a 13-3 major decision over Arundel's Tyler Rendina.
Atholton's Zachary Smith (160). Glenelg's Joe Zoller (170) and Howard's Jared Rodriguez (182) all lost in the championship finals.
106: David Reagan (Bel Air) pin Nick Vila (Chesapeake), 4:32.
113: McLean Linehan (Severna Park) dec. Gavin Rupprecht (Bel Air), 6-2.
120: Michael Beck (RH) dec. Jeff Hayden (MH), 4-3.
126: Tanner Chaplain (Old Mill) dec. Bryan Wand (Broadneck), 8-6.
132: Mason Kilcarr (Re) dec. Connor Joyce (Broadneck), 4-0.
138: Stanley Proctor (Annapolis) pin Austin Lecrochick (Northeast), 1:43.
145: Austin Kraisser (C) maj. Tyler Rendina (Arundel), 13-3.
152: Malik Jackson (WL) dec. John Cross (Bel Air), 8-4.
160: Travis Chidebe (Meade) dec. Zachary Smith (A), 10-5.
170: Shaine Middleton (Broadneck) dec. Joe Zoller (G), 10-3.
182: Malik Smith (North County) dec. Jared Rodriguez (Ho), 6-4.
195: Logan Kirby (RH) pin Segun Aboye (Meade), 1:33.
220: Cory Daniel (RH) pin Adric Turner (Aberdeen), :59.
285: Alan Dorsey (C. Milton Wright) pin Drecon Hudson (Annapolis), 2:26.
106: Ryan Castro (South River) pin Matt Shealy (RH), 2:36.
113: Josh Kendrick (MH) dec. Alex Potts (RH), 3-2.
120: Trent Kilcarr (Re) pin Zach Allewalt (North County), 4:21.
126: Noah Polonsky (WL) dec. Troy Kilcarr (Re), 1-0.
132: Jeff Glossner (Old Mill) tech. Tyler Anderson (WL), 20-4/4:48.
138: Josh Peters (South River) dec. Hans Wicklein (Re), 3-2.
145: Tre Puccinelli (South River) dec. Austin Pagnotta (G), 10-3.
152: Connor Strunk (MH) dec. Sameh Boulos (C), 2-1 3OT.
160: Tanner Williams (Arundel) pin Brady Daniel (RH), 2:50.
170: Sebastian Ames (RH) dec. Grant Fleming (Bel Air), 4-3.
182: Wes Beattie (Re) dec. Austin Twigg (G), 6-0.
195: Craig Burris (G) dec. Deon Williams (LR), 2-1.
220: Isaiah Olugbemi (Arundel) pin Kristopher Gough (WL), 4:51.
285: Tyler Smith (RH) dec. C.J. Allen (Aberdeen), 3-2.
1. River Hill, 147.5
2. Bel Air, 95
3. Reservoir, 82.5
4. Glenelg, 82
5. Arundel, 59
6. Broadneck, 58
7. Old Mill, 55.5
8. Mt. Hebron, 4
9. Wilde Lake, 52.5
10. South River, 51
16. Centennial, 34
17. Howard, 26
20. Atholton, 16
23. Long Reach, 9
2A/1A South results not available