Mt. Hebron senior heavyweight Nick Nordhausen wasted little time making sure his team drove the 145 miles home from Stephen Decatur High School on Thursday with some fresh hardware.
Thirteen seconds, to be exact, was all he needed to pin Atholton’s Haashim Rahmin and seal the second-seeded Vikings’ 35-25 victory over the fourth-seeded Raiders for their first 3A East regional championship and first region title since 2002.
“Thirteen seconds, that’s a little long,” Nordhausen joked. “But no, our team wrestled great. I didn’t have to do much. I just had to go out there and sew this up for us. We deserve this; we work hard, so I’m proud of the boys.”
Mt. Hebron cruised past third-seeded J.M. Bennett in the semifinals, building a 42-5 lead before forfeiting the final five matches en route to a 42-35 win, while Atholton avoided a collapse and upset the top-seeded Seahawks, 37-34, in a thriller that came down to the final match.
The Vikings (22-3) a win away from qualifying for the regional duals a year ago but ultimately they were the first team out. Before this season, coach Dan Harman asked his team what their goals were, and unanimously it was to win a regional and state championship.
“We said we wanted to be regional champs, and coach said we’ll train like state champs then,” Nordhausen said. “Win regionals and you’re right there, two matches and you’re there. That’s our goal: win states.”
In his third season at the helm, Harman understands how long a 16-year drought is. Several of his wrestlers weren’t even born yet. And not only had it been that long between region titles, it’s how long Mt. Hebron had gone between simply qualifying for regional duals.
Now the Vikings are two wins away from trying to match what that 2002 team did: win a state title.
“It’s huge for the team, it’s huge for the program,” Harman said. “This is a senior-heavy team that has done a lot of work in the offseason, and the goal at the beginning of the year was to make it to the postseason as a team and make it to state duals. It’s really a credit to the team putting in the work over these last four years. It’s also about building a program, not just a one-and-done program. We want to build a tradition like a lot of other teams in the county have, that’s where this team wants to go.”
While Nordhausen’s quick pin sealed the win, it was his practice partner, Isa Pender, who scored the upset at 220 pounds to make his job easy. Pender overcame an early 2-0 deficit with five straight points to win 5-3 and avenge a previous defeat against last year’s county champion Miles Easterling. His decision put the Vikings up 29-19, meaning one win in the final two matches would seal it.
“That 220 match was huge,” Harman said. “Isa stepped up and won by decision there, and that kid is really good. Isa stepped up, man.”
Atholton (10-6) did all it could to hang around in the final, which featured five lead changes, two overtime matches and six decisions overall, but ultimately a pair of matches that it won the first time around against the Vikings that it couldn’t repeat on Thursday potentially made the difference.
In addition to Pender getting his retribution, Mt. Hebron’s Adam Scherr lost to Derek Noppinger on Jan. 9 but beat him, 4-2, in overtime on Thursday at 132 pounds.
“Those were killers, at 132 and 220, and that’s a 12-point swing right there,” Raiders coach Bruce Lindblad said. “We gave up the 18 points last time in forfeits but we came up on the short end tonight.”Lindblad said that while the loss in the final stings, he is “really proud of the team.” The upset victory over Stephen Decatur in the semifinal was Atholton’s first-ever postseason victory. The Raiders lost to the Seahawks in the same round in 2007, their last appearance in the regional duals, but they made Thursday’s appearance count, just barely.
Atholton jumped out to a 16-0 lead over Stephen Decatur after David Panda had the upset of the night at 120 pounds. He trailed the No. 1 ranked public-school wrestler in the state at 106 pounds, Jagger Clapsadle, 9-4, in the third period but reversed him and won by fall in 5 minutes, 23 seconds.
Another come-from-behind victory from Alex Mattes at 160 gave the Raiders a 34-13 lead, and after Sean Billups’ decision at 170, the lead was 37-13. All they had to do to win at that point was avoid four pins in the final four matches, which proved to be tougher than anticipated.
An injury default, a forfeit and a pin at 220 pounds gave the Seahawks a shot entering the heavyweight match, but Atholton prevailed thanks to Rahmin not getting pinned.
“The big one was at 160 with Mattes coming from behind and decking him, and if it wasn’t for that it wouldn’t have come out that way,” Lindblad said.
Mt. Hebron will be the No. 3 seed at the 3A state duals tournament at North Point High School on Saturday and will face either Bel Air or Huntingtown in a semifinal with No. 4 seed Tuscarora squaring off with other in another semifinal. The top-two seeds are yet to be determined because they both have the same record and power ranking.
Though their opponent is yet to be determined, the Vikings are confident they can win the state championship if they continue to simply do what they have done all season long: wrestling their match.
“I think we have a good chance,” Harman said. “We don’t know the seeding yet but it’s going to be the same game plan: go out there and wrestle, give it your all and not give up bonus points and seeing what happens.”
3A EAST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP:
No. 2 Mt. Hebron — 35, No. 4 Atholton — 25
113: Drew Pruett (A) tech fall Jack McGuire (MH), 18-3 [0-5]
120: Yahir Lemus (MH) dec. David Panda (A), 6-2 [3-5]
126: Khiem Doan (MH) dec. Shea Collins (A), 5-4 [6-5]
132: Adam Scherr (MH) dec. Derek Noppinger (A), 4-2 OT [9-5]
138: Michael Altamarino (A) major dec. Bryce Kampert (MH), 14-0 [9-9]
145: Stephen Frazier (A) major dec. Jamison Hulbert (MH), 15-3 [9-13]
152: Ali Pender (MH) tech fall Mateo Rodriguez (A), 15-0 [14-13]
160: Alex Mattes (A) dec. Joe Gonzales (MH), 4-2 OT [14-16]
170: Sean Billups (A) dec. Marcus Suri (MH), 9-3 [14-19]
182: Zach Wilhelm (MH) pinned Ben Lew (A), 1:22 [20-19]
195: Jake Witland (MH) fft. [26-19]
220: Isa Pender (MH) dec. Miles Easterling (A), 5-3 [29-19]
285: Nick Nordhausen (MH) pinned Haashim Rahmin (A), 0:13 [35-19]
106: Peter Frazier (A) fft. [35-25]
No. 4 Atholton — 37, No. 1 Stephen Decatur — 34
106: Peter Frazier (A) major dec. Shamar Baines (SD), 16-6 [4-0]
113: Drew Pruett (A) pinned Austin Miller (SD), 2:52 [10-0]
120: David Panda (A) pinned Jagger Clapsadle (SD), 5:23 [16-0]
126: Cade Solito (SD) pinned Shea Collins (A), 3:19 [16-6]
132: Jeremy Danner (SD) major dec. Derek Noppinger (A), 8-0 [16-10]
138: Michael Altamarino (A) pinned Jhymir Blake (SD), 3:43 [22-10]
145: Stephen Frazier (A) pinned David Braciszewski (SD), 1:59 [28-10]
152: Johnny Hofman (SD) dec. Mateo Rodriguez (A), 10-3 [28-13]
160: Alex Mattes (A) pinned JJ Purnell (SD), 3:54 [34-13]
170: Sean Billups (A) dec. Lukas Layton (SD), 6-0 [37-13]
182: DJ Taylor (SD) inj. default Ben Lew (A) [37-19]
195: Deletez Smith (SD) fft. [37-25]
220: Caleb Bourne (SD) pinned Miles Easterling (A), 3:40 [37-31]
285: Shakur Nock (SD) dec. Haashim Rahmin (A), 3-0 [37-34]
No. 2 Mt. Hebron — 42, No. 3 J.M. Bennett — 35
106: Nico D’Amico (JMB) tech fall Cassy Lopez (MH), 19-0 [0-5]
113: Aamil Vanora (MH) fft. [6-5]
120: Jack McGuire (MH) pinned Gene Williams (JMB), 1:59 [12-5]
126: Khiem Doan (MH) dec. Aaron Terres (JMB), 3-0 [15-5]
132: Adam Scherr (MH) dec. Zach Johnson (JMB), 7-2 [18-5]
138: Bryce Kampert (MH) pinned Jeremy Cope (JMB), 3:40 [24-5]
145: Jamison Hulbert (MH) pinned Tanner Farro (JMB), 2:46 [30-5]
152: Ali Pender (MH) pinned Kyshon Watkins (JMB), 1:32 [36-5]
160: Joe Gonzales (MH) fft. [42-5]
170: Brian Duperval (JMB) fft. [42-11]
182: Aaron Hooks (JMB) fft. [42-17]
195: Troy Gibson (JMB) fft. [42-23]
220: Corian Mills (JMB) fft. [42-29]
285: Angel Trujillo (JMB) fft. [42-35]