Atholton senior Jay Desmarais isn’t the Raiders’ best grappler or most experienced, but when Thursday’s home dual meet against rival River Hill came down to the final bout in a winner-take-all scenario, coach Bruce Lindblad had all the trust in his 152-pounder.
“When we were at Springbrook [Jan. 18-19], he wrestled his [butt] off. I told him that was the best I’ve ever seen him wrestle,” Lindblad said. “Even though he lost, he wrestled better than he ever had and that’s a positive, and it showed tonight. He didn’t stop and kept wrestling for the whole six minutes.”
The match didn’t start well for Desmarais, as his opponent, Dailen Jeng, nearly pinned him in the first period. Jeng led 5-0 early on and took an 8-5 advantage into the final two minutes.
But Desmarais never wavered. A reversal cut the deficit to one, and with 20 seconds remaining he casually locked up a cradle and turned Jeng for three more points to win the match, 10-8, and lift Atholton to a 38-34 victory.
“I was pretty confident I could turn him,” Desmarais said, “but I wasn’t sure it would go down like that. It was pretty tense.”
“It just goes to show you what can happen when you wrestle the whole time and to relax and keep that mindset of ‘I want to score, I want to score,’ and that’s what it’s all about,” Lindblad said.
Desmarais’ heroics were only needed because of a late Hawks rally. They trailed the Raiders, 35-19, with four matches left after David Panda (120) and Drew Pruett (126) secured falls for Atholton (7-4 Howard County, 13-8 overall), and two come-from-behind victories kept their hopes alive.
Jonah Richardson (132) was nearly pinned in the first period but came back to stick Aidan Healey, and Michael Crisitello (138) overcame a 3-0 deficit and forced overtime with a takedown with eight seconds remaining in regulation. He took down Derek Noppinger again in the extra session to win it, 6-4.
Then River Hill senior Will Henrickson (145) kept his undefeated record intact by breaking a 2-2 tie with Michael Altamarino with a reversal and a quick fall in the second period to ensure the winner of the next match would capture the dual meet for their team.
Hawks coach Kevin Cannon said his team gave up too many bonus points to win and was sure to say the loss didn’t rest on Jeng’s shoulders.
“The difference between [Jeng] and everyone else was he didn’t just roll over. Everyone who lost got pinned or teched,” he said. “If any of his other teammates did what he did then it would’ve been a different match.”
River Hill’s only lead came after the first match, which saw Jack Island (160) do his part and secure an 11-3 major decision against Mateo Rodriguez. It was all Atholton after that, however, as county and regional champion Sean Billups (170) and Michael Johnson (182) earned falls in less than a minute and Desmon Craig (195) dominated en route to a 15-0 technical fall. Another pin from David Nguyen (220) put Atholton in front, 23-4.
But River Hill (7-4, 20-9) wasn’t down big for long. A forfeit to Angel Rivera (285), a pin from Humza Aboarob (106) and Eric Robinson’s 7-2 win against Peter Frazier in his first match this season down at 113 pounds cut the deficit to 23-19.
Ultimately, the comeback attempt fell short, and the Hawks’ chances of qualifying for the 2A South regional duals took a major hit. They close their regular season Friday at home versus Century.
“It’s disappointing because we set ourselves up to win,” Cannon said. “We kept calm when we needed points and we knew who we had wrestling. It was there but they took it away from us in the last 20 seconds.”
For Atholton, which lost to Tuscarora, 39-36, Thursday night after taking down the Hawks, the victory kept them on solid footing for getting into the 3A East regional duals for the second straight year. The Raiders are currently the No. 3 seed but sit comfortably ahead of No. 4 seed J.M. Bennett and No. 5 Centennial.
Atholton (7-4 county, 13-8 overall) — 38, River Hill (7-4, 20-9) — 34
160: Jack Island (RH) major dec. Mateo Rodriguez (A), 11-3 [0-4]
170: Sean Billups (A) pinned Tyler Hopkins (RH), 0:41 [6-4]
182: Michael Johnson (A) pinned Jack Sheppard (RH), 0:54 [12-4]
195: Desmon Craig (A) tech fall Joe Yang (RH), 15-0 [17-4]
220: David Nguyen (A) pinned David Flynn (RH), 3:05 [23-4]
285: Angel Rivera (RH) fft. [23-10]
106: Humza Aboarob (RH) pinned Jana Tumaneng (A), 1:26 [23-16]
113: Eric Robinson (RH) dec. Peter Frazier (A), 7-2 [23-19]
120: David Panda (A) pinned Caden Canap (RH), 1:33 [29-19]
126: Drew Pruett (A) pinned Lukas Ramirez (RH), 1:43 [35-19]
132: Jonah Richardson (RH) pinned Aidan Healey (A), 3:23 [35-25]
138: Michael Crisitello (RH) dec. Derek Noppinger (A), 6-4 [35-28]
145: Will Henrickson (RH) pinned Michael Altamarino (A), 3:06 [35-34]
152: Jay Desmarais (A) dec. Dailen Jeng (RH), 10-8 [38-34]
Tuscarora — 39, Atholton (7-4, 13-8) — 36
Howard (2-8, 5-16) — 45, Milford Mill — 28
106: Trey Mitchell (Ho) fft. [6-0]
113: Kenny Ling (Ho) pinned Marcus Martin (MM), 1:22 [12-0]
120: Arjun Kundu (Ho) pinned Israel Tate (MM), 0:40 [18-0]
126: John Collins (Ho) pinned Adrien Mensah (MM), 3:24 [24-0]
132: Arshia Abdi (Ho) pinned Glenn Giles (MM), 2:54 [30-0]
138: Jabias Barr (MM) dec. Ryan Keeley (Ho), 6-3 [30-3]
145: Brandon Ako (MM) pinned Christian Sossa (Ho), 0:57 [30-9]
152: Shayan Kassiri (Ho) pinned Ikenna Iwudike (MM), 0:52 [36-9]
160: Chris Hallums (Ho) dec. Jalen Broadway (MM), 5-2 [39-9]
170: Demetrius McNeil (MM) dec. Camden Hurley (Ho), 7-5 OT [39-12]
182: Abubakar Saka (MM) pinned Zach Deboy (Ho), 1:25 [39-18]
195: Ralph Selma (MM) fft. [39-24]
220: Jordan Morant (MM) major dec. Buddy Penguin (Ho), 9-1 [39-28]
285: Ritchy Pierre (Ho) pinned Angel Figeroa (MM), 2:56 [45-28]
Centennial (7-4, 14-8) — 72, Reservoir (1-10, 3-28) — 3
106: Ibaad Shaikh (C) fft. [6-0]
113: Christopher Lee (C) fft. [12-0]
120: Nick Shapiro (C) pinned Jake Kaplan (Re) [18-0]
126: Yusuf Mehboob (C) fft. [24-0]
132: Zaid Narmouq (C) pinned Kaz Okamoto (Re) [30-0]
138: Joseph Toth (C) fft. [36-0]
145: Matthew Harris (C) pinned Dylan Hunter (Re) [42-0]
152: Tristan Kneas (C) dec. Darien Haghighat (Re), 4-1 [45-0]
160: Jason Kraisser (C) pinned Dylan Wiegert (Re) [51-0]
170: Wadeed Morcos (C) pinned Jacob Rand (Re) [57-0]
182: Yash Joon (C) fft. [63-0]
195: Matt Demme (C) dec. Segni Melaku (Re) 8-2 [66-0]
220: Noah Bussink (C) fft. [72-0]
285: Dylan Altman (Re) dec. Nick Yee (C) 6-1 [72-3]