Above: Alex Dufour (106), Phil Smith (120) and Roell Ngounou (152) show off their awards as their individual titles led Owings Mills to the team championship at Franklin’s Warpath Invitational.

Eagles go three-for-three in the finals; Mt. Hebron is second and Franklin third; Blake beats Crawford in a battle of state champs


by Billy Loverocket

Owings Mills celebrates its team championship at Franklin’s Warpath Invitational.

The Owings Mills wrestling team (No. 21 in BillyB’s Wrestling World’s latest rankings) had a strong showing at this weekend’s Warpath Invitational at Franklin High School and walked away with the team title. The Eagles’ three champions and 10 place-winners were the most of any team and earned them 187.5 points to outpace runner-up Mt. Hebron (No. 25) by 17.5 points, 187.5-170.

“This win feels more authentic (than the one four years ago) with all wrestlers that our coaching staff has had a hand in developing,” Owings Mills coach Shawn Girch said. “Going into the weekend we knew we had a chance to win the tournament. At times we looked very good, and then we would let down and lose matches against guys that we have beat, or should beat. While we know there are improvements to be made, I am proud of the overall performance of the team with some of our younger guys like Brian Djemejio stepping up and placing for us. Tyson McDuffy lost his first match of the season and he came back strong to get third and help the team to win the tournament.”

Alex Dufour (106) won his second Warpath title in two tries picking up two pins and a major-decision.

“It felt good winning the tournament, also I felt really good wrestling at my weight,” Dufour added. “I am really proud of the team and our accomplishment. This shows us where we stand to win the county and regional tournament. Our veteran wrestlers stepped up in the consolation rounds and the finals in order to come back and win after losing the lead at one point in the tournament. We still have a lot of work to do and we are still hungry to win more.”

Teammate Phil Smith (120) also picked up his second title, but last year’s crown was earned as a member of Franklin’s squad. The sophomore transferred to Owings Mills this season and has ascended to the No. 1 ranking in the state. Smith pinned No.14 Yahir Lemus (Mt. Hebron) with ten seconds left in the match.

“I️ feel great about winning the tournament,” said Smith. “It was a nice experience. My finals performance was decent. I️ don’t think I️ put in my best effort though. I’m very proud of our team for winning. I️ have a lot of faith in our team to win regions.”

At 152, No. 12 Roell Ngounou captured his first title at Franklin after not placing a year ago. The junior downed No. 19 Ali Pender (Mt. Hebron), 4-2, to earn his crown.

“The finals match was one of the worst that I felt so far this year,” Ngounou continued. “I couldn’t get to my shots, but now I know I need to work on that. I was happy that I still got the job done and as a team we got the win. Now I am looking forward to the next one and helping my team win.”

Tyson McDuffy (126) and Andrew Bikay (285) earned bronze for the Eagles. Diondre Space was fourth at 182. Dre’yon Eure (132) and Troy McDuffy (138) were fifth. Damen Tiller (113) and Brian Djemejio (195) placed sixth.

Mt. Hebron was not able to crown any champions as they went 0-3 in the finals. Settling for silver were Lemus, Pender, and heavyweight Nick Nordhausen.
Placing fourth for the Vikings were Adam Scherr (132), Bryce Kampert (138), and Jamison Hulbert (145). Landing in the fifth spot on the podium were Zach Wilhelm (182) and Jake Witlin (195). Cassy Lopez was sixth at 106.

The host school, Franklin (164 points), kept two championships in house as Robert Garrett (195) and No. 4 Elijah Solomon (220) won their finals bouts. Solomon beat John Carroll’s Adam Berg (No. 8), 8-6, for his first Warpath title. Last season, Solomon did not even make it to the awards stand.

“I feel great,” Solomon said. “Over all my years in this tournament, I never really did much, so it just feels great to be able to see my hard work payoff. I didn’t even know that he was ranked. I just went onto the mat and wrestled my match.”

Jamal Everette (113) was second at 113. In the semifinals, the unranked Everette pinned No .21 Ethan Bell (Hereford). Josh Kreshtool (145) grabbed a bronze medal. Jahki Hylton was fifth at 152, while Shane Hudson (126) and Isaiah Lewis (285) were sixth for Franklin.

No. 18 Sparrows Point was fourth with 163 points and crowned two champions, Matt Fouts (113) and Givoni Herring (182). Fouts, who is ranked 12th in the state, picked up a major-decision, 8-0, over Franklin’s Everette to secure his first Warpath championship.

“When I was walking in I knew I was going to have same hard matches,” Fouts remarked. “Throughout the day I felt good and knew I was going to win. When it came down to the championship match I was nervous going out under the light because it was my first time there. The kid was strong and fought hard. But I had more heart to keep going. After the match I was so happy that I won. It showed if you push yourself you can win.”

“I felt like I did good in my matches but there’s always room for improvement,” said Herring. “I came into the finals a little nervous but I didn’t show it , I pumped myself up and had the mindset of a champion walking onto that mat. I was very satisfied with my performance but like I said there’s always room for improvement.”

John Carroll’s fifth place finish was propelled by two champions, No. 10 Luke Strappelli (132) and Druw Van Def Werff (285). Van Der Werff (honorable mention in the state) pulled off a huge upset of No.5 Nordhausen pinning him with one second left on the clock.

Strappelli edged South Carroll’s Cam Werner (No.24), 7-5.

“It wasn’t a pretty win, but I’m just glad I pushed myself this tournament,” Strappelli said. “It was fun being in the spotlight again; it reminded me of my old final experiences.”

“I went out there and listened to what my coaches told me to do,” said Van Der Werff. “Without them in my corner there was no way I would have come out on top.”

Linganore had two champions and was involved in the marquee bout of the finals at 126. Joey Bromley won the 160lb title. Defending 4A/3A state champion Earl Blake (No. 2 at 132) dropped down and faced off with No. 1 Travis Crawford (South Carroll), a defending 2A/1A state champion. As with most of Blake’s matches this one was action packed with the Lancer pushing the action. Blake walked away from this battle the victor tallying a major-decision, 13-5.

“It was a great match,” Blake added. “I felt in control and right where I wanted to be. Crawford is a great wrestler. I knew I needed to maintain my level of intensity against him. As for my performance in the match, I felt as if I was able to keep my head and wrestle the way I like to. I stayed on top of him and was able to keep the pressure on him and find my shots. I’m excited for the season to come and I can’t wait for many more challenges.”

In the 126lb semifinals Crawford defeated No. 2 Tyson McDuffy, 10-2.

Centennial had two champions of their own, No. 12 Jacob Blyukher (138) and No. 1 Jason Kraisser (145). Kraisser stormed through the bracket with three pins, including two in under a minute. In the finals, Kraisser flattened Sparrows Point’s Skyler Minutelli (No. 24) in 39 seconds for his third Warpath crown.

“It felt good winning the tournament for the third time,” Kraisser said. “I felt strong and confident during the tournament but not overconfident. I was just excited to be on the mat competing.”

Pennsylvania’s Littlestown had one champion at 170lbs where Carl Harris won a close decision over Linganore’s Michael Bromley (No. 14 at 182), 7-5.

Team Scores:
1-Owings Mills 187.5
2-Mt. Hebron 170
3-Franklin 164
4-Sparrows Point 163
5-John Carroll 158
6-Linganore 139
7-South Carroll 137.5
8-Hereford 132
9-Centennial 108.5
10-Littlestown (PA) 103
11-Boys’ Latin 77
12-Friends School of Baltimore 69
13-Wheaton 49
14-Perry Hall 34
15-Edmondson-Westside 11
16-Gerstell Academy 9

Championship Finals:
106-Alex Dufour (OWM) pinned Connor Brown (LIT), 1:44
113-Matt Fouts (SP) maj-dec Jamal Everette (FRK), 8-0
120-Phil Smith (OWM) pinned Yahir Lemus (MTH), 5:50
126-Earl Blake (LING) maj-dec Travis Crawford (SC), 13-5
132-Luke Strappelli (JC) dec Cam Werner (SC), 7-5
138-Jacob Blyukher (CEN) pinned Lance Kevin (FRDS), :56
145-Jason Kraisser (CEN) pinned Skyler Minutelli (SP), :39
152-Roell Ngounou (OWM) dec Ali Pender (MTH), 4-2
160-Joey Bromley (LING) pinned Cale McMurdy (HER), 4:54
170-Carl Harris (LIT) dec Michael Bromley (LING), 7-5
182-Givonni Herring (SP) dec Tristan Verbin-Hedger (LING), 8-3
195-Robert Garrett (FRK) pinned Mason Isaac (BL), 3:40
220-Elijah Solomon (FRK) dec Adam Berg (JC), 8-6
285-Druw Van Der Werff (JC) pinned Nick Nordhausen (MTH), 5:59

Third Place Matches:
106-Staki Gourgoulianis (JC) pinned Bryce Schmidt (SP), :52
113-Ayden Dillon (LIT) pinned Jake Rippeon (SC), 1:42
120-Cole Jones (JC) dec Dakota Bowers (SC), 4-3
126-Tyson McDuffy (OWM) maj-dec Matt Mitrega (JC), 14-3
132-Mike Fouts (SP) dec Adam Scherr (MTH), 9-2
138-Chase Andrews (PH) dec Bryce Kampert (MTH), 5-2
145-Josh Kreshtool (FRK) pinned Jamison Hulbert (MTH), 1:50
152-Steven Dahl (SC) dec Jake Lurre (SP), 12-8
160-Antonion Bradford (SC) pinned Jamie Rice (BL), 1:31
170-Jimmy Kells (HER) dec Jerry Rosser (JC), 6-2
182-Garrett Naylor (HER) dec Diondre Space (OWM), 5-1
195-Willie Miller (HER) dec Charles Mbakop (WH), 7-6
220-Skyler Kessenich (FRDS) pinned Mac Alban (BL), 4:33
285-Andrew Bikay (OWM) won by forfeit Blake Walter (HER)

Fifth Place Matches:
106-Chris Lee (CEN) dec Cassy Lopez (MTH), 7-3
113-Ethan Bell (HER) pinned Damen Tiller (OWM), :23
120-Richard Davis (SP) maj-dec Yoseph Yilma (WH), 12-4
126-Mason Hurst (LIT) pinned Shane Hudson (FRK), 2:09
132-Dre’yon Eure (OWM) won by default Frank Dick (LING)
138-Troy McDuffy (OWM) pinned John Pfaff (LING), 2:39
145-Caleb Trudeau (FRDS) pinned Connor Kyger (HER), 2:32
152-Jahki Hylton (FRK) won by forfeit CJ Polesovsky (JC)
160-Jake Rallo (SP) pinned Trey McCray (PH), 1:16
170-Demonte Wright (EDW) dec Lexx Carr (SP), 3-1
182-Zach Wilhelm (MTH) pinned Collin Rolfes (SC), 1:18
195-Jake Witlin (MTH) dec Brian Djemejio (OWM), 5-1
220-Jack Murphy (WH) pinned Noah Bussink (CEN), 5:47
285-Pat Quinn (SC) pinned Isaiah Lewis (FRK), 1:58