xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Chesapeake, Annapolis aiming to shine at state wrestling dual championships

Annapolis' Aidan Heim, seen wrestling Arundel's Ryan Mitchell on Feb. 5, and the Panthers are making their first appearance at the MPSSAA state wrestling dual meet championships since 2002.
Annapolis' Aidan Heim, seen wrestling Arundel's Ryan Mitchell on Feb. 5, and the Panthers are making their first appearance at the MPSSAA state wrestling dual meet championships since 2002. (Paul W. Gillespie)

Only a handful of Chesapeake and Annapolis wrestlers were alive the last time each school made it to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state wrestling dual meet championships.

The Cougars, who won the 3A South regional title Wednesday night, last made it to the state final four in 2004 to cap back-to-back appearances, while the Panthers, who won the 4A East crown after upsetting host South River, haven’t been since 2002 when they advanced to the then-4A/3A state championship match.

Advertisement

Both teams will get a chance to win their first state championship Saturday afternoon at North Point High School as they hope to carry the momentum from Wednesday.

“There was just such a buzz in our school about Wednesday night,” Chesapeake coach Randy Curtin said on Thursday night. “To be honest with you, that kind of overshadowed the day for us (on Thursday) just because we hadn’t hosted the duals in 16 years. So just to get that experience, it was all over our school. We’re still talking about that.”

Advertisement

Chesapeake wrestling scored a 58-12 victory in the Class 3A South Region dual meet championship on Wednesday night, Feb. 12, to punch its ticket to the state dual meet tournament on Saturday at North Point High School.

“I know the reality of the duals is going to sink in,” Curtin added. “I haven’t been to North Point to see it and I don’t think anybody on our team or the coaches have, so we’ll just kind of pick it up as we go I guess.”

Chesapeake, which went one-and-done in 2003 and 2004, is the No. 4 seed in the 3A championships and faces a tall task against top-seeded Damascus in the semifinals at 2 p.m. The Swarmin’ Hornets have won a state-record seven consecutive state titles and nine overall since the dual-meet championships began in 1994. They won the 2A title the last two years and the 4A-3A title from 2013 to 2017.

Curtin has taken a straightforward approach since the pairings were announced on Thursday afternoon: To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.

“Hey, might as well give it a shot, right? Go out there and — we’ve been wrestling hard and having a strong dual-meet season, so might as well take out act to these guys and see what we can do,” Curtin said. “They certainly have the upper hand as far as experience being there and familiarity and all that.”

Chesapeake head coach Randy Curtin, seen in 2017, has led the Cougars to their first MPSSAA state wrestling dual meet championship appearance since 2004.
Chesapeake head coach Randy Curtin, seen in 2017, has led the Cougars to their first MPSSAA state wrestling dual meet championship appearance since 2004. (By Matthew Cole / Capital Gazette)

Curtin said he has done some research and has a “pretty good feel” for what Damascus will bring to the table. He knows it will take their best effort in order to take down the champs.

“They’re obviously one of the best public-school teams in the state,” he said, “so we’ve no doubt to bring out A-game against them.”

The winner of that semifinal will see the winner of No. 2 Manchester Valley and No. 3 C. Milton Wright in the finals set for 6:30 p.m.

The Panthers beat Leonardtown and then the Seahawks to win first region title since 2002.

As for Annapolis, it earned a more favorable draw in the 4A meet. The Panthers are the No. 3 seed and will face No. 2 Eleanor Roosevelt for a chance to see the winner of No. 1 Bethesda-Chevy Chase and No. 4 Springbrook, which knocked off South River for last year’s title.

Roosevelt has represented the 4A South region each of the last two seasons but has gone 0-2 at the state duals. The Panthers lost to Mt. Hebron in the state final in their only appearance 18 years ago.

Tom Sfakiyanudis, who was an assistant coach at Annapolis that season, said that he isn’t concerned about his team dealing with the pressure of the moment, especially with what the team endured to reach this point. The Panthers needed a major decision in the final bout to beat South River, and 106-pounder Kevin Van Besien came through in the clutch with a 14-5 victory in the 33-32 victory.

“The good part is most of our guys are seniors and juniors. We have a group of guys that have been around for a little bit,” he said. “And a lot of those guys have been in those situations, some of them have made it to (individual) states and regionals and they’ve seen some of these bug tournaments. I just try to keep them calm. … It’s nice when you have that senior leadership and kind of upperclassmen leadership on the team because I think it gives the underclassmen a little but more confidence than they would normally have.”

See individual records for the best Anne Arundel County wrestlers.

Sfakiyanudis added that while he has vast knowledge about Anne Arundel County wrestling, he doesn’t have a whole lot of information beyond that. He has asked some friends from Prince George’s County for a scouting report on Roosevelt, and the consensus is that it is not a team to overlook by any means.

Advertisement

Still, Sfakiyanudis thinks his team will match-up pretty well and has a real shot at advancing to the finals.

“They’re a tough team but a team that we may match-p pretty well against. But I’m not looking beyond anything,” he said. “Our focus is on Roosevelt right now and hopefully we can advance to the final and take on Springbrook or B-CC.”

The 1A and 2A semifinals begin at noon and the finals at 4 p.m.

Class 4A

Semifinals

No. 1 Bethesda-CC (14-0) vs No. 4 Springbrook (11-3); No. 2 Eleanor Roosevelt (12-2) vs No. 3 Annapolis (11-3)

Class 3A

Semifinals

No. 1 Damascus (13-1) vs No. 4 Chesapeake-AA (11-3) ; No. 2 Manchester Valley (13-1) vs No. 3 C. Milton Wright (13-1)

Class 2A

Semifinals

No. 1 Stephen Decatur (14-0) vs No. 4 Sparrows Point (13-1); No. 2 LaPlata (14-0) vs No. 3 Glenelg (13-1)

Class 1A

Semifinals

No. 1 Carver A&T (12-1) vs No. 4 Paul Laurence Dunbar (9-3); No. 2 Southern-Garrett (12-2) vs No. 3 Patterson Mill (12-2)

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement