Oakland Mills coach Brad Howell said his team needed something big to happen in order to beat host Glenelg in the 2A South region dual final Wednesday night.
He needed someone to find a way to score a major upset and everything else to fall their way. And while the Scorpions gave the Gladiators everything they could handle — they held a lead five different times and even had a four-point advantage with four matches to go — it still wasn’t quite enough to beat mighty Glenelg.
The No. 3 Gladiators stayed strong until their dominant stretch of grapplers shined and closed the match with four consecutive wins to pull away with a 40-23 win over No. 12 Oakland Mills. It’s the fourth straight season Glenelg (22-0) has won a regional dual crown and its third consecutive 2A South region title.
In the semifinals, the top-seeded Gladiators defeated Southern-AA, 51-16, and No. 2 seed Oakland Mills held off third-seeded La Plata, 46-27.
“It’s great. It’s huge. When I was in school we never did it [win a regional dual title] and now it’s become a standard thing,” Glenelg coach Matt Bichner said. “But the ultimate goal is to get that state title. We’re going to have to wrestle a lot better than we did today to do that and we’re going to be ready to commit and win it.”
Oakland Mills (18-5), which lost 48-17 to Glenelg (22-0) on Jan. 4, won several matches that it had lost in its first matchup to keep the score close. But Howell admitted it would’ve taken several more upsets and surprises to pull out a victory.
“We chipped away but I knew the whole time we needed something, something more than chipping,” he said. “We were chipping points away and the team knew they needed to chip away whether they were getting beat or winning but the points are going to matter. They were scrapping and battling for it.”
Glenelg trailed 23-19 when things took a turn, which was to be expected from three defending regional champions. Jacob Jones (160) and Drew Sotka (170) notched second-period pins, Jake Arnone (182) held off county finalist Anthony Morales, 4-3, and Sam Alsheimer (195) stuck Stone Richardson in 1 minute, 36 seconds.
That four-wrestler stretch has been nothing short of dominant all season for the Gladiators. Combined, they own a season record of 115-16.
“When Jacob got a pin, that was huge because they do a good job of not giving up pins,” Bichner said.
The first half of the dual, however, was as close as any match Glenelg has had all season. After Massimo Conti (220) won a tight battle against Arthur Mouafo, 9-5, Oakland Mills did something it didn’t do in the previous meeting: take a lead.
Ernie Smith (285) secured a pin and Alex Tamai (106) turned the tables and scored an escape with five seconds remaining to beat David Ridenour, 9-8. Ridenour pinned Tamai earlier this season.
“They don’t have any holes,” Howell said. “We knew we were going to have to shift and get wins in a couple places that they beat us earlier.”
Andres Lopez Campos (113) answered with a pin to and Gladiators actually took a 9-8 lead because a team point was deducted from Oakland Mills’ total due to a coach’s misconduct.
Still, the Scorpions battled. Jalen Cornelius (120) beat Tino Campanile, 10-3, a little more than a month after losing an 8-5 decision against him, and the two teams traded wins the next four matches. A fall from Dylan Watt (152) gave Oakland Mills its last lead at 23-19.
“They were ready to wrestle. We tried telling our guys it was going to be a tough dual because Oakland Mills is a scrappy team and Brad’s a good coach, so they would have some strategy,” Bichner said. “... It was definitely a little nervous but I knew we had some guys to close it out. Maybe it’s a good thing to get us ready for Saturday at the state duals.”
In the semifinal round, Southern (13-10) trailed the entire match against Glenelg, as it forfeited the first three matches. A decision from Justin Knapp (106) and a major decision from Bowen Willson (113) got the Bulldogs within 11 after five bouts but the Gladiators answered by winning three of the next four, including two by fall.
Any chance of a major comeback ended when Glenelg’s Kian Payne (152) pinned Tony Largen in 44 seconds to extend the lead to 39-16. The Gladiators closed out the match with four consecutive wins.
Michael Segreti (132) won an overtime match and Kaleb Neal (145) got a defensive fall for Southern.
“We fought. Going in we knew we were down. We’ve got three starters out injured right now,” Bulldogs coach Jeffrey Schrumm said. “I’m not saying that would have made the difference and we would’ve won this match but we knew going in that we probably didn’t stand much of a chance with four forfeits. So it was about wrestling hard, getting some individual head-to-heads, and I thought we performed well with what we had.”
La Plata had reached the 2A South region finals each of the last three years but couldn’t get past the Scorpions. In fact, Oakland Mills led the entire match after starting with a decision and two forfeits.
The Warriors won four of the next six bouts, including pins from Brandon Lee (106), Gabe Jackson (126) and Max Hayes (138) and a decision from Mason Scott (113), to cut the deficit to 25-21. The Scorpions’ Steven Harrell (145) and La Plata’s Owen Butler (152) traded falls to keep it a four-point dual but Oakland Mills closed things out with two pins and a decision.
La Plata coach John Pankhurst liked what he saw from his team that was missing six varsity starters, including reigning state champion Alex Blake, who is expected to return by the end of the season.
“I think considering the young guys I brought and giving up two forfeits they did a really nice job,” he said. “We had a couple of matches that got away from us late but we contended with guys who won multiple matches at states with some first-year starters. Just to see their effort and a little bit of growth, it’s good. We knew we had our hands full.”
2A SOUTH REGION DUAL FINALS:
No. 1 seed Glenelg (22-0) — 40, No. 2 Oakland Mills (18-5) — 23
220: Massimo Conti (G) dec. Arthur Mouafo (OM), 9-5 [3-0]
285: Ernie Smith (OM) pinned Charlie Whitsett (G), 0:40 [3-6]
106: Alex Tamai (OM) dec. David Ridenour (G), 9-8 [3-9]
113: Andres Lopez Campos (G) pinned Ian Santiago (OM), 4:31 [9-8]*
120: Jalen Cornelius (OM) dec. Tino Campanile (G), 10-3 [9-11]
126: Kevin Hansberger (G) major dec. Joesomar Alfaro-Hernandez (OM), 17-5 [13-11]
132: Isaiah Williams (OM) dec. Reed Kraemer (G), 8-6 [13-14]
138: Jared Thomas (G) pinned Quan Dunscomb (OM), 1:00 [19-14]
145: Steven Harrell (OM) dec. Nick Kingsbury (G), 6-2 [19-17]
152: Dylan Watt (OM) pinned Kian Payne (G), 1:02 [19-23]
160: Jacob Jones (G) pinned Michael Claxton (OM), 3:43 [25-23]
170: Drew Sotka (G) pinned Rocco DelPo (OM), 2:44 [31-23]
182: Jake Arnone (G) dec. Anthony Morales (OM), 4-3 [34-23]
195: Sam Alsheimer (G) pinned Stone Richardson (OM), 1:36 [40-23]
*-1 team point for Oakland Mills for misconduct
No. 1 Glenelg — 51, No. 4 Southern — 16
195: Sam Alsheimer (G) fft. [6-0]
220: Massimo Conti (G) fft. [12-0]
285: Griffin Doyle (G) fft. [18-0]
106: Justin Knapp (S) major dec. David Ridenour (G), 11-3 [18-4]
113: Bowen Willson (S) dec. Andres Lopez Campos (G), 10-7 [18-7]
120: Tino Campanile (G) dec. Devin Ball (S), 4-2 [21-7]
126: Kevin Hansberger (G) pinned Tylor Sumpter (S), 4:58 [27-7]
132: Michael Segreti (S) dec. Reed Kraemer (G), 8-6 OT [27-10]
138: Jared Thomas (G) pinned Christian Taylor (S), 0:25 [33-10]
145: Kaleb Neal (S) pinned Nick Kingsbury (G), 4:38 [33-16]
152: Kian Payne (G) pinned Tony Largen (S), 0:44 [39-16]
160: Jacob Jones (G) fft. [45-16]
170: Drew Sotka (G) dec. Averum White (S), 5-3 [48-16]
182: Jake Durkin (G) dec. Mykiah Bonhom (S), 11-8 [51-16]
No. 2 Oakland Mills — 46, No. 3 La Plata — 27
195: Stone Richardson (OM) dec. Quentin Dibble (LP), 2-0 [3-0]
220: Arthur Mouafo (OM) fft. [9-0]
285: Ernie Smith (OM) fft. [15-0]
106: Brandon Lee (LP) pinned Ian Santiago (OM), 2:25 [15-6]
113: Mason Scott (LP) dec. Alex Tamai (OM), 6-1 [15-9]
120: Jalen Cornelius (OM) pinned PJ Flores (LP), 0:54 [21-9]
126: Gabe Jackson (LP) pinned Isaiah Williams (OM), 5:45 [21-15]
132: Quan Dunscomb (OM) major dec. Miles Pierce (LP), 13-5 [25-15]
138: Max Hayes (LP) pinned Luis Castelon (OM), 1:05 [25-21]
145: Steven Harrell (OM) pinned Dwayne Thompson (LP), 1:51 [31-21]
152: Owen Butler (LP) pinned Nick Capino (OM), 2:45 [31-27]
160: Dylan Watt (OM) pinned Luke Szoch (LP), 3:17 [37-27]
170: Anthony Morales (OM) dec. Jake Szalaoski (LP), 6-4 [40-27]
182: Rocco DelPo (OM) pinned Tavon Proctor (LP), 0:52 [46-27]