There was no team title awarded at the 1A/2A South regional wrestling tournament at River Hill on Saturday for the first time, but it was no secret that Glenelg was the top team based on its number of champions.
The Gladiators pushed seven into the finals and had a tournament-high five winners — Logan Gwin (113 pounds), Drew Sotka (152), Jacob Jones (160), Max Sotka (170) and Sam Alsheimer (182). The latter two won their second straight regional crowns.
“It’s really great. You’re in the room with the guys all year, it’s a long season and we’ve been working hard,” said Max Sotka, who beat Southern-AA’s Averum White via tech fall, 19-4, in the final. “So it’s really nice to see — not just for me — that the hard work is paying off.”
Marriotts Ridge had three champions in Austin Manwiller (106), Ethan Bohan (120) and Austin Cestone (195), who won his second straight title, while La Plata also had winners in three consecutive weight classes: Marco Frederico (132), Alex Blake (138) and Mike Bellerose (145).
River Hill’s Will Henrickson (126) and Kai Uecker (285) won titles in their own dramatic fashion in their home gym, while Hammond’s Loic Tueguo (220) became the school’s first regional champion since 2013.
Max Sotka and Alsheimer, who won their region titles last year as part of the 3A/4A East region, dominated their brackets to earn No. 1 seeds for next week’s state tournament.
Max Sotka (31-7), who lost in the county final and scored just one point in that defeat, racked up points in a hurry. The returning state finalist said he used the county final as fuel but added that he made sure not to let the loss linger in his head.
“For me it’s great. Coach has been stressing [scoring more points],” he said. “... All week coach said the mantra in our heads should be to score the next point and I think that’s huge.”
Alsheimer (14-1), meanwhile, locked up three cradles in the second period to build a 9-0 lead and rolled to an 11-2 victory over River Hill’s Zach Wasilewski in a rematch of the county finals.
The junior said he continues to feel more comfortable on the mat after recovering from multiple leg surgeries in September.
“I need a little more explosiveness on the leg, but besides that I think I’ve got just about everything back. The agility is back, it’s just that little bit of power,” he said. “It feels great. A lot of people didn’t think I’d be back by this point, myself included at times, so it feels good. I’ve just got to take it match by match.”
Gwin (34-9) pinned Thomas Stone’s Adam Roberts in 1 minute, 24 seconds. Jones (37-4) controlled his championship bout against Southern-AA’s Josh Merkle from start to finish to win an 8-2 decision.
Drew Sotka (34-9) secured a takedown in the final seconds to beat Oakland Mills’ Dylan Watt, 4-2, in a rematch of the county tournament consolation finals. Sotka won that meeting, 1-0, with a late escape.
“I was trying to conserve my energy because I knew I could get him again at the last second,” he said. “We had a really tough county and I was mad when I got third. I used it as fuel to win this one.”
Manwiller (37-7) broke wrestling’s No. 1 rule last week by missing weight for the second day of the county tournament and was forced to default the county championship match. He said he controlled his weight much better this week, and the result was a 6-2 finals victory over River Hill’s Eric Robinson. The wrestlers had split their prior two matches this season, but Manwiller has now won the last two.
“I was extremely angry that I didn’t get to wrestle in the championships for counties, but that brought me back here and I had a lot of motivation this time,” he said.
Bohan (42-4) dominated La Plata’s Owen Butler in his finals match, winning a 7-0 shutout, while Cestone (45-1) pinned his three opponents in 0:29, 0:24 and 1:17.
Cestone said he feels confident “to a certain point” that his unusual style and technique will work against top competition at the state tournament.
“It can only go far and I understand that, but it’s brought me this far so I’m pretty confident that it will keep me going,” he said.
In what was another rematch of the county finals, Henrickson squared off with Oakland Mills senior Kyle Farace, a three-time state finalist who was hungry for revenge.
The result, however, was even more lopsided in favor of the Colorado transfer. Henrickson, who won the first meeting, 8-7, built a 6-1 lead before pinning Farace in 2:33.
“I wanted to be even more aggressive than I was before because I knew he was coming for blood,” said Henrickson, who improved to 22-2 since coming to Maryland in early January. “I just wanted to go in there and destroy him. That’s all there was in my mind: go in that match and just mentally wreck him.”
Uecker saved the most exciting finish for last. The fourth-seeded senior pinned top-seeded Justin Andrews of Hammond to reach the final and then overcame a late 3-1 deficit against Southern-AA’s Joey Miller in the championship. He tied the bout with a takedown and then beat the final buzzer for the fall.
Uecker (30-9) said he woke up Saturday morning with no expectations of winning the tournament.
“I wanted this one so bad. Something definitely changed from the middle of the season to now,” he said. “... It was just a wild day to get here.”
Like Uecker, Tueguo won his match in the final stages. He took down Glenelg’s Robbie Baxter in the final 10 seconds to win 3-1. He’s the first Golden Bears grappler to win a region title since Bryan Overton five years ago and, Tueguo (39-4) admitted that he feels he’s been leading the program’s charge back to prominence.
“I don’t want to sound cocky but yeah, I do feel like that,” he said. “I feel a lot of responsibility. Sometimes it’s hard because everyone is looking up to you and wants you to win, but it’s an honor, too. It makes you feel good.”
All three of La Plata’s winners won major decisions in the finals. Frederico (29-5) beat Glenelg junior Jared Thomas, 19-11, Blake (35-0) cruised to an 11-2 victory over Fairmont Height’s Jaran Fernandors, and Bellerose (34-3) picked up his 150th career win with an 8-0 win over Hammond’s Tyler Williams.
In total, 35 county wrestlers qualified for the 1A/2A state tournament March 2-3 at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.
In addition to the finalists, they are: Glenelg’s Kevin Hansberger (120 pounds, third place); Hammond’s Shehzan Dahya (106, third), Keneth Rios (113, third), Shamar Laing (152, fourth), Jordan Davis (170, third) and Justin Andrews (heavyweight, third); Marriotts Ridge’s Justin Hooper (160, third); Oakland Mills’ Quan Dunscomb (132, third), Ben Goldfein (138, third), Anthony Morales (160, fourth), Mulbah Kamara (182, fourth) and Dante Hooker (heavyweight, fourth); and River Hill’s Jonah Richardson (113, fourth), Michael Crisitello (120, fourth), Matt Greenlee (132, fourth) and Alex Wasilewski (195, third).
106-pound championship: Austin Manwiller (Marriotts Ridge) dec. Eric Robinson (River Hill), 6-2
3rd place: Shehzan Dahya (Hammond) inj. default Tristan Elrod (Thomas Stone)
113: Logan Gwin (Glenelg) pinned Adam Roberts (Thomas Stone), 1:24
3rd place: Keneth Rios (Hammond) dec. Jonah Richardson (River Hill), 10-6
120: Ethan Bohan (Marriotts Ridge) dec. Owen Butler (La Plata), 7-0
3rd place: Kevin Hansberger (Glenelg) major dec. Michael Crisitello (River Hill), 13-4
126: Will Henrickson (River Hill) pinned Kyle Farace (Oakland Mills), 2:33
3rd place: Devin Jones (Calvert) pinned Sebastian Kolczynski (Lackey), 1:53
132: Marco Frederico (La Plata) major dec. Jared Thomas (Glenelg), 19-11
3rd place: Quan Dunscomb (Oakland Mills) major dec. Matt Greenlee (River Hill), 10-0
138: Alex Blake (La Plata) major dec. Jaran Fernandors (Fairmont Heights), 11-2
3rd place: Ben Goldfein (Oakland Mills) pinned Matthew Davis (Calvert), 0:34
145: Mike Bellerose (La Plata) major dec. Tyler Williams (Hammond), 8-0
3rd place: Hunter Anderson (Southern-AA) pinned Earl Shepherd (Frederick Douglass), 4:05
152: Drew Sotka (Glenelg) dec. Dylan Watt (Oakland Mills), 4-2
3rd place: Jordan Bryant (Lackey) dec. Shamar Laing (Hammond), 9-5
160: Jacob Jones (Glenelg) dec. Josh Merkle (Southern-AA), 8-2
3rd place: Justin Hooper (Marriotts Ridge) pinned Anthony Morales (Oakland Mills), 3:49
170: Max Sotka (Glenelg) tech fall Averum White (Southern-AA), 19-4
3rd place: Jordan Davis (Hammond) pinned James Pitts (Fairmont Heights), 1:53
182: Sam Alsheimer (Glenelg) major dec. Zach Wasilewski (River Hill), 11-2
3rd place: Joseph Ireland (Southern-AA) dec. Mulbah Kamara (Oakland Mills), 3-1
195: Austin Cestone (Marriotts Ridge) pinned Ernie Smith (Oakland Mills), 1:17
3rd place: Alex Wasilewski (River Hill) fft. Chase Altizer (La Plata)
220: Loic Tueguo (Hammond) dec. Robbie Baxter (Glenelg), 3-1
3rd place: Thomas Hedgepeth (Surrattsville) pinned Brandon Ream (Lackey), 3:32
285: Kai Uecker (River Hill) pinned Joey Miller (Southern-AA), 5:59
3rd place: Justin Andrews (Hammond) dec. Dante Hooker (Oakland Mills), 5-2