Glenelg has flirted with wrestling dominance, reaching the state duals finals in 2008 and 2010 before winning its only state title in 2011. But rival River Hill was the team to beat during most of that stretch.
Now, however, with alumnus Matt Bichner leading the program, there is little doubt that Glenelg is the class of Howard County and the metro area. The Gladiators have won three straight county dual and tournament championships and regional duals titles, and have finished runner-up to powerhouse Damascus in the state duals tournament the past two seasons.
Behind Bichner’s guidance over the past five seasons, Glenelg is 53-2 against county opponents, which includes a current 33-match winning streak, and 116-17 overall. The Gladiators had four wrestlers reach the state finals this winter and two champions in senior Max Sotka (170 pounds), a finalist for the second straight season, and junior Jared Thomas (132).
“I’m happy with how we’ve progressed. My granddad told me you’ve got to have a five-year plan; it’s not all going to happen at once,” said Bichner, who won the 160-pound state championship his senior season in 2006. “I think each year we‘ve gotten a better understanding of trying to peak at the end of the year and we’ve gained some knowledge.”
Bichner said his team still has some hurdles to overcome, the most important being taking down Damascus and winning a state duals championship. The Hornets have won 152 consecutive duals, the fifth-longest streak all-time, according to the National Federation of High Schools record book.
“The duals is what we’re looking at. We still want to try to get over that hill and beat Damascus as a team, but in reality the individual tournament is what the wrestlers are looking toward and trying to get their names on the wall,” he said. “The goal is the first week of March. I think we’ve done a good job at changing things up and polishing the way we do things.”