Reservoir’s Gators of Howard County, coached by Ryan Kanaskie, entered the weekend’s Class 4A-3A Tournament having enjoyed a season of firsts.
The Gators won their first county and Class 4A-3A East Regional Tournament titles, as well as their initial Class 4A-3A East dual meet and Class 4A-3A state dual meet crowns.
On Saturday night, at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House in College Park, the Gators not only crowned their first state champion in junior 145-pounder, Mark Colabucci, but Colabucci completed the program’s first undefeated season by going 44-0, and paced his squad to its first-ever, Class 4A-3A state tournament title by easily out-distancing runner-up LaPlata of Charles County, 106-80.
Colabucci used two pins, an injury default, and a 5-3, title-bout decision over Laplata’s Connar Zimmerman (29-8) to add his first state title to the county and regional tournament championships he had earned earlier in the year.
Colabucci was joined by senior state runner-up, Mike Mullens (152, 40-5), junior state runner-up Josh Hamilton (285, 40-5), senior fourth-place finisher, Josh Knox (112, 35-8), and senior fourth-place finisher Danny Poore (119, 37-9) as wrestlers who placed for the Gators.
Although Mullens dropped his title-bout decision, 3-1, to Leonardtown’s Martez Allen (36-5), his program’s first-ever state champion, he did so only after earning a first-round, 14-2 decision, an overtime, quarterfinal victory over Chopticon’s previously unbeaten, Stephen Cannon (36-1), and edging Annapolis’ Jeremy Byrd, 15-11, to reach the finals.
Mullens’ were important points, along with those from Hamilton.
Hamilton nailed down falls in 22, 78, and, 42 seconds to make the championship, where he was decked by Hereford senior Taylor Gload (41-1) in 3 minutes, 11 seconds — but only after nearly pinning Gload in the first period.
The Class 4A-3A East Region, won by the Gators, produced seven of the 14 state champions, with North County’s Pat Downey (171) and Pat Carey (189) going 34-0, and, 39-0, respectively.
Downey earned his second crown, this after going 37-0 at Loch Raven for last year’s 2A-1A crown. Carey had been a runner-up twice at 189, but didn’t let the crown escape him this season.
Also from the Class 4A-3A East, Centennial sophoomore Nathan Kraisser (112, 38-2) and Old Mill junior Ron Vaughters (140, 44-2) earned their second straight crowns, and Arundel’s Maryland-bound senior, Tyler Goodwin (130, 37-1), and Wilde Lake’ sophomore, Alex Polonsky (103, 35-3), their first.
Downey pinned twice before earning a 5-2, semifinal victory over Dulaney’s previously unbeaten, eventual fourth-place finisher, Brandon Phillips (43-2) in a rematch of an overtime victory by Downey a year ago.
In the finals, Downey had to face Chesapeake’s state runner-up, Chris Urps (33-5), whom he had beaten three times earlier. But this time, it was tougher, as Downey had to ground out the closest decision of all, 4-3, over Urps.
Carey won a battle of state runners-up, 5-3, over Walt Whitman’s Taylor Leighton (36-2), scoring a takedown with 23 seconds remaining to hold off Leighton for the 5-3 decision.
Kraisser was more dominant than ever, using a pin, a 16-0 technical fall, a 16-2 major decision over Quince Orchard’s Eli Bienstock (32-2) in a rematch of last year’s 103-pound final. Kraisser then breezed to a 14-1 championship victory over Perry Hall’s Shaun Murphy (28-3).
A transfer from Baltimore private school power, Mount St. Joseph, Goodwin had won tournament crowns at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and private schools tournaments, and had also been a two-time National Preps Tournament runner-up.
Goodwin had no problems at Cole Field House, earning a first-period pin, consecutive technical falls of 17-0, and, 16-0, and blanking Magruder’s previously unbeaten Jordan Tolbert (39-1) by 12-0 for his crown. Tolbert had pinned three straight opponents to earn the right to face Goodwin.
Vaughters led, 8-2, when he was called for illegally slamming Laplata senior Nick Romero to the mat with 12 seconds left in their title bout.
What happened next, however, drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
Although Romero was genuinely hurt, and could not continue, his coach, Todd Sharp, had him rise to his feet, shake hands with Vaughters to restart the match, and allow the remaining time to tick off of the clock, giving Vaughters the victory.
Vaughters was gracious, realizing his mistake, and the two wrestlers fell into an embrace of sportsmanship.
“That kid was a real man for doing what he did,” said Vaughters. “And I thank him and his coach for doing it. They really didn’ t have to, and I’m really thankful to them for that.”
Polonsky had pinned his way into the finals, where he won a back-and-forth match up, 11-6, over Northern of Calvert County’s Brant Leadbetter (35-4).
Polonsky became the second state champion for Wildecats’ coach Azmar Hagler, who also coached Zach Brown (215) to a state title in 2007.
Urbana’s Adam Krop (125, 37-2) earned his third straight state title after having placed third as a sophomore, but it was the most difficult championship run of them all.
The Princeton University-bound Krop pinned his first opponent, but then had to get past former Mount St. Joseph wrestler and private schools runner-up, Alex Rice, of Chesapeake, 5-1.
Krop’s next match was against former state champ, Kevin Beck (35-5), whom he edged, 5-2, after having trailed early, 2-0.
Krop had to overcome yet another 2-0 deficit against Arundel sophomore, Tyler Goodwin (35-2) in the finals, tying their bout at 2-2 with a second-period set of two nearfall points, and then, scoring a third-period reversal to overcome a 3-2 deficit for the 4-3 decision.
Krop had scored falls in his previous two state championship finals, but this one was by far the most challenging.
The most unlikely title run was by Seneca Valley junior, Bernard Wolley (215, 33-2), a third-year wrestler who scored upset, after upset to reach the finals.
Wolley earned a 7-5 quarterfinal victory over Catonsville’s previously unbeaten, Tyler Weedon (37-1), who had twice placed third at states.
Wolley then overcame Howard County champion, Alvin Harris (30-7), earning a 6-3 decision over the Wilde Lake grappler.
But the biggest win of them all was in the finals, where Wolley scored an overtime takedown for a 5-3 decision over previously unbeaten state champ, Mwanza Wamulumba (20-1).
Damascus’ Zeke Gammill (160, 28-3) had lost his last two matchups with Quince Orchard’s Reed Neubaum (35-2), but he ground out a 3-2 decision in their title bout to even their series at 2-2, winning when it counted most.
The 135-pound champion’s season was one of redemption, during which Tanner Wrublik (36-4) completed a journey that included overcoming personal problems, and turning himself into an A-student after transferring to Tuscarora High in Frederick County.
Wrublik pinned his first opponent, earned a 3-2, quarterfinal victory over Clarksburg’s Chris Williams (36-3), and then edged South River’s eventual fourth-place finisher, Curtis Taylor (37-4) by 1-0 in the ultimate tiebreaker.
In the finals, however, Wrublik came up with a fall with two seconds left in the first period, pinning Old Mill sophomore, Salaman Riddell (33-7) — this after Riddell had earned a 5-2, overtime victory over former state champion and two-time finalist, Peter Tatanish, of Urbana.
Magruder junior Parke Overmiller (119, 34-3) pinned twice before downing Poore, 10-4, in the semifinals and turning his at
tention to repeat state runner-up, Cameron Kirby (37-9) of River Hill.
Also a fourth-place finisher at one point, Kirby had beaten Poore twice, pinning him for the Howard County title, and edging him, 10-8, at the regionals.
A transfer from Georgetown Prep, who was fifth at private shools states, Overmiller was simply too much for Kirby, whom he downed, 7-2, for the crown and jumped into a crowd of supporters in celebration.