The year of parity in Anne Arundel County came to a head Saturday at the county tournament.
South River had its time as the regular season dual-meet champions before it gave way to Annapolis, which won the 4A East region title for the first time since 2002.
Chesapeake had its moment, too, as champions of the 3A South region.
But the 2020 Anne Arundel County title officially belongs to Arundel.
The Wildcats crowned three champions and scored 193 points to outpace Chesapeake (183), Annapolis (170), South River (160.5) and Old Mill (134.5) to win the league tournament for the first time since 1997.
They are the first team not named South River or Old Mill to win the county tournament since Meade in 2012.
The Cougars made things interesting with a big round in the championship finals, but Arundel’s Val Pryor (170) sealed the team title by beating Chesapeake’s DJ Hoover, 6-4.
“I can’t put it into words. We had our eye on it; we knew it was a possibility, but for us to be here is surreal,” said Wildcats coach Dwayne Vogel. “I’m just so happy for the kids. It means a lot. It really feels good. Making the (4A East region) duals felt good last week and I don’t know which is better. I think this is probably better, especially because it hasn’t been done for us in so long.”
Trevor Gagnon (152) did more than any Arundel grappler to win the team title. He had three pins en route to winning his first county championship, something that just slipped through his grasp in a one-point loss in the finals two years ago. He flattened Broadneck’s Dylan Ruppert in 3 minutes, 54 seconds to win it.
“It’s been a while,” Gagnon said. “I messed up in the finals, came back and tried again last year and got an injury. This year I came out with the mindset of pinning everyone and being the county champ that I should have been last year.”
“Oh, I did?!” he said. “Well that’s a great accomplishment. I just transferred here and it’s been good. This has been my No. 1 goal all year, just to win this county championship.”
Heavyweight Nate Kloss was on JV at this time last year but has catapulted himself to the top of the county. He outlasted South River’s Racheil Coney for a 3-2 victory with an escape in the ultimate tie-break period to end the Seahawks’ heavyweight run of five straight county titles. Kloss, too, didn’t realize he was going home with two medals.
“Oh, we’re county champs? We won that?” he said. “That’s nice to know. It feels great. A first-year varsity heavyweight, to come out on top, it feels great.”
South River’s Issac Barber (132), Chesapeake’s Victor Listorti (160) and Severna Park’s Ty Broadway (220) each won their second individual county title.
The matchup between Barber, a four-time county finalist, and Arundel’s Caleb Chaves, a champion last year, was the most anticipated of the evening. Chaves defeated Barber in a key bout in the 4A East region duals semifinals between the two teams, but Barber got his revenge this time.
Barber got the first takedown in the first period and held the lead until the second. Chaves escaped early in the second, but Barber got the all-important second takedown to build a 4-1 lead he wouldn’t relinquish. A stalling call against him and a third-period escape gave him a 5-2 victory and his second county championship. He also won it in 2018.
“I did a lot of mental. I didn’t focus a lot on the wrestling; I’m there. he’s there, it’s all about the mental game,” said Barber, who said this championships means more than the first. “You got to beat him when there’s 30 seconds left right there. It’s all about keeping your cool and not doing anything stupid.
“It was opportunity. It could have gone either way. He could have taken me down there. Whoever sees it first basically and takes the opportunity to score. … I’ll probably see him again the next two weeks.”
Broadway kept his undefeated record intact (36-0) and built an 11-point lead before pinning Southern’s JoJo Herring in 5:41.
“I was just listening to coach. He wanted pressure, pressure and don’t let him breath,” Broadway said. “… I just wanted to prove that I’m here to win states. I’m coming for states. That’s all I want to do, but I’m just focusing on my next match at regionals and taking it one match at a time.”
Listorti dominated his bracket and won all three matches by fall. He cruised to a commanding lead before pinning Southern’s Kaleb Neal, who was a runner-up for the second time, in 2:47.
“It’s pretty sweet,” Listorti said. “Kaleb, he’s really solid and I’ve wrestled him a couple times over the past few years and just getting a pin there really helped our team.”
Victor Listorti’s brother, Chase Listorti (126), was a finalist last season but had the most entertaining pin of the event, as he pinned Broadneck’s Rylan Woodward in 2:54 with a spladle.
“It’s great. Just to get on the board with my brother and dad, I just feel a whole lot better because I missed my chance last year,” he said. “… (The spladle) is a wonderful move. I can’t give myself any props for it; it’s just an amazing move that was there at the time.”
Nobody overachieved more, at least based on seeding, than Chesapeake’s Dean Laumann (145). The No. 6 seed defeated Annapolis’ No. 3 seed Craig Erwin and North County’s No. 2 seed Lucas Orginassiti en route to the championship match, where he secured a takedown and three near-fall points in the final period to break a tie and beat No. 5 seed Broadneck’s Jacob Miller, 9-4.
“I feel accomplished. I got seeded sixth behind a lot of kids that I guess I should have been ahead of,” Laumann said. “I felt like the double is always there. I hit it and I felt like it was my match after that. It was mine.”
Annapolis’ Frank Antonelli (120), a transfer from Mount Saint Joseph, had a back-and-forth battle with Southern’s Andrew Ruel, a county champion a year ago. Ruel scored the first points with a reversal in the second period and Antonelli answered with one of his own. An Antonelli escape gave him a 3-2 advantage but Ruel got the only takedown of the bout to make it 4-3. Antonelli got the final points, however, and earned a reversal with 45 seconds remaining and then held on for a 5-4 victory.
“I lost to him at the finals of the North County tournament. He’s a great wrestler. He’s pretty damn good,” Antonelli said. “We had a hell of a match; I’m just happy that I came out on top. It means a lot. I’m just thankful I’ve made it this far. Now I’ve got two more weeks to go.”
The Panthers’ Nate Ditmars (138) won the deepest weight class of the tournament, pinning upset-minded Owen Schmidt of Chesapeake, the No. 5 seed who toppled top-seeded Old Mill’s Caron Tull in the semifinals, in 1:42 for the title. Ditmars was a finalist a year ago and upended Northeast’s Billy Katzenberger in the semifinals.
“It was great. My uncle went here and I’m trying to follow in his footsteps, and this is a key part of that,” Ditmars said. “I was in my head; I was nervous. I wrestled that kid before a while ago and I knew he got a lot better, so I went out with no expectations and just wrestled my match.”
Annapolis Kyle Leming (195) scored a five-point move in the first period and nearly pinned South River’s James Purnell in the championship match. From there, however, his lead slowly evaporated, and by the time the third period buzzer sounded the score was tied at 8. Leming mustered up just enough energy to take down Purnell and win the match, 10-8, in overtime.
“Right off the bat I was feeling pretty good and was thinking, ‘Man, this could be over pretty quickly,’ but I was proven wrong pretty quickly and got taken all the way to overtime,” Leming said. “He came back but in the end, the idea that this was my last county tournament, for that first and only shot I took in overtime that was in the back of my mind. My legs felt like lead; my arms were noodles, but that thought just kept me going.”
Northeast’s Colin Cook (106) kicked off the finals with one of the bouts of the night. He and Broadneck’s Liam DeBaugh were locked into a 3-3 tie until Cook stuffed DeBaugh’s shot attempt and put him on his back. The five-point move came with seven seconds remaining.
“I just kept my composure and just kept fighting it out and came out with a close one,” said Cook, who was accidentally hit in the nose by the referee and needed blood time as a result. “This thing in my nose, I could barely breath. So after that, it just hyped me up and made me go even harder.”
Southern’s Justin Knapp (113) was a runner-up last season as a freshman but dictated the pace and downed South River’s Nolan Lunsford, 8-5, to capture his first title.
“It feels good. It’s good to know that all my hard work has paid off so far this season,” Knapp said. “I’m just ready to take home a regional title and go to states.”
Carson Gottimer (182) joined Broadway as a champion for Severna Park, as he cruised to a 9-2 decision over Arundel’s Clint Mills, the No. 5 seed who took out the top-seeded Brandon Jackson of Annapolis in the semifinals.
“There’s a board in our auxillary gym that has all the names of the county champs, region champs and state champs, and I just wanted my name on the board,” he said. “That’s pretty much it.”
1. Arundel, 193; 2. Chesapeake, 183; 3. Annapolis, 170; 4. South River, 160.5; 5. Old Mill, 134.5; 6. Broadneck, 119; 7. Northeast, 115; 8. Severna Park, 110; 9. Southern, 109; 10. North County, 84; 11. Glen Burnie, 63; 12. Meade, 5
106: Colin Cook (Northeast) dec. Liam DeBaugh (Broadneck), 8-3
113: Justin Knapp (Southern) dec. Nolan Lunsford (South River), 8-5
120: Frank Antonelli (Annapolis) dec. Andrew Ruel (Southern), 5-4