Aberdeen of Harford County’s Shayduan Velez wrestled like a man possessed throughout the postseason as he tore through his competition on the way to earning titles in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference, the Class 4A-3A East Region and Saturday’s Class 4A-3A state tournament at the University of Maryland’s Cole F?ield House.
Named the Outstanding Lower weight wrestler after winning the UCBAC, the senior 112-pounder entered the regionals as the second seed behind defending state champion, Alex Polonsky, of Wilde Lake of Howard County.
Velez decked his first regionals opponent, Mike Levdansky, of James M. Bennett, in 2 minutes, 53 seconds before edging junior Logan Reece of Arundel, 5-3, to improve to 2-1 in his series against Reece.
In the regional finals, Velez took only a minute and 23 seconds to finish off South River sophomore Austin Alley, who had upset Polonsky, 6-4, in their overtime regional semifinal.
“I felt like I was coming in here with a big, emotional advantage as the UCBAC champ, the regional champ,” said Velez during an interview at Cole Field House. “I knew that I had to win this last tournament.”
At states, Velez pinned Dane Lemmon of Leonardtown and Sean Cohen of Bethesda-Chevy Chase, respectively, in 1 minute, 25 seconds, and, 1 minute, 51 seconds, setting up a bout with Polonsky, whom he handled by 17-4, major decision.
That set up yet a fourth match against Reece (34-6), who led, 2-0, early, before Velez erased that deficit by scoring the remaining seven points of the bout for the 7-2, state championship victory.
“I told myself that I was behind, but I was still okay,” said Velez. “I had to go out there and I had to at least get one point, and then, two points, and then go from there and build off of that.”
Velez’s lone loss this year was by 10-2 against Oakland Mill’s three-time Class 2A-1A state champion, Tony Farace, who finished the year at 41-0.
With a season-ending mark of 39-1, Velez became Aberdeen’s first state champion since Matt Kunkel (189) was a titlist in 1999.
“I came in here and I did exactly what I had to do,” said Velez. “I wrestled each match one at a time and I came out on top.”