Cavaliers weather the Maverick’s upperweights, see their lightweights shine in 34-30 Carroll County thriller
by Billy Loverocket
The South Carroll wrestling team has had a pretty good season to date, taking the team crown at the Battle in the Boro and finishing second, above all other Maryland teams, to Georgia’s Cambridge at the Damascus Holiday Tournament.
The Cavaliers’ tournament prosperity is not surprising given their talent down low. But there are a few holes up top. Those weaknesses were exploited when South Carroll encountered No.3 Stephen Decatur in the finals of the Iron Horse Duals, falling 57-23.
That dynamic was what made Wednesday evening’s showdown with Manchester Valley at South Carroll so intriguing. The Mavericks have a well-balanced team, but one of their strengths lies with their powerful big guys.
The two squads are tied for the 12th spot in the state’s overall team rankings, but Manchester Valley was No. 11 in the dual rankings and South Carroll No. 14.
The biggest question on the night would be how the matches with the little guys played out, those would determine the winner. When it was decided the match would start at 152 the visitors had to be tickled with that development and things started out mostly as planned as Manchester Valley won five of the first seven matches, including four in a row from 182-285.
No. 14 Thomas Chenoweth started on an up note with a first period fall of Gage Duncan for a 6-0 Maverick lead. At 160, Brandon Athey stole a swing match for the Cavaliers with an 8-5 victory over Brayden Safley. No. 7 Antonio Bradford kept the scoring going for South Carroll planting Jason Colacioppo in the third period, 5:32, for a 9-6 start.
Adam Mattson (182, No. 9 at 170) started a four-match run that put Manchester Valley back on top 24-9. Mattson and Grant Warner (220, No. 11 at 195) put falls in the book. At 195, Connor Livingston (No. 25 at 182) squeaked by Justin Brister, 8-7. Zach Brathuhn pitched a 7-0 shutout versus Richie Summerlin at 285.
South Carroll bested that stretch, putting five straight wins on the board to claim a 28-24 lead. No. 5 Michael Pizzuto (106) beat Travis Green (No. 15), 11-7. No. 6 Ryan Athey picked up a fall at 113. Gage Owen (No. 14, 120) fell a point shy of a major-decision with an 8-1 win over No. 22 Jake Boog.
“We knew when we were starting near the top, we were going to be in a hole but once we hit the turn at 106 the guys came to me and said, “We got this”, South Carroll coach Matt Thomas said. “I believed in them and we finished the night winning six of the last seven bouts.”
No. 7 AJ Rodrigues came up one-point shy of adding an extra bonus point for a tech-fall at 126 running up a 14-0 major-decision on No. 25 Hunter Green. Jake Rippeon (No. 20) won his 132lb clash with Heathe Hernandez, 14-9.
No. 16 Chad Shaffer made quick work of Anthony Bond at 138 with a first period fall, 1:21, to put the Mavericks back out front, 30-28.
Things were tense when freshman Rylan Moose (No. 23) stepped on the mat at 145 as the favorite in the night’s finale. His foe was the unranked Kaleb Reid and Moose didn’t let the drama unfold for long as he propelled the Cavs to victory with a quick pin, 1:22, to make the final count 34-30 in favor of the hosts.
“I was very nervous when it came down to me, but I had to calm my nerves because I knew we needed this for the win,” Moose relayed after the match. “When I got the pin and knew it was over, I was very excited for me and my team to have this win and have a bit of a confidence booster for the upcoming matches. It feels great to help my team to a big dual meet win and again it’s a big confidence booster for our tough upcoming matches.”
The loss is the first for Manchester Valley to a public school this year. They won the Westminster Duals with a win over Dunbar (No. 10 overall, No. 13 in dual meets) and posted an impressive 44-18 victory over Winters Mill in county action. Their only prior loss this season was to No.9 Loyola, 42-30, at the Bauerlein Duals.
At the Iron Horse Duals South Carroll defeated two-time defending 1A state duals champs No. 17 Southern Garrett, 35-31. They defeated Frederick County power Middletown (No. 16), 45-36 in December. On Saturday, the Cavs will travel to Loyola for a tri-meet with Dunbar.
“We wanted to chase competition this season, so we had the guys battle tested,” Thomas added. “(There’s) no need to run or pad a schedule for a pretty record. That does you no help for post-season preparation. So far, I’m pretty happy with where we’re at but there’s still room for improvement.
“Last night was a big win in our own gym taking down a Manchester Valley team who’s been getting a lot of hype over the season with I believe around a 30-1 dual record coming into last night. We physically and mentally had the guys ready for last night and prepared for battle. They were itching to get out there and put on a show for the crowd that came out to support them.”
After the weekend battle at Loyola, South Carroll will gear up for a showdown with cross-county rival No.18 Winters Mill at home on February 3rd to decide the county dual championship.
Thomas looked at the road ahead for his team while contemplating not just the immediate future, but long term as well.
“We still have a couple tough duals this weekend and then three more to finish the regular season with and lead into post-season and hopefully be hosting the 2A West Regional Duals at South Carroll in mid-February with a potential to punch a ticket to state duals that weekend.
“This team is young and loaded with talent and a crazy work ethic and they feed off of each other. We are a family here and it’s a brotherhood. We have one senior in this starting line-up with 11 of the 14 starters being freshmen or sophomores.”
The current wave is just the beginning of working the program back to recent previous heights when winning state championships was expected. The roster is littered with wrestlers who have siblings toiling away in the junior league ranks, ready to start infiltrating the high school lineup in the next two to three years.
South Carroll 34, Manchester Valley 30
(match started at 152)
152-Thomas Chenoweth (MV) pinned Gage Duncan, 1:43
160-Brandon Athey (SC) dec Brayden Safley, 8-5
170-Antonio Bradford (SC) pinned Jason Colacioppo, 5:32
182-Adam Mattson (MV) pinned Andrew Dupree, :16
195-Connor Livingston (MV) dec Justin Brister, 8-7
220-Grant Warner (MV) pinned Shane Allison, 2:59
285-Zach Brathuhn (MV) dec Richie Summerlin, 7-0
106-Michael Pizzuto (SC) dec Travis Green, 11-7
113-Ryan Athey (SC) pinned Lee Seipp, 3:15
120-Gage Owen (SC) dec Jake Boog, 8-1
126-AJ Rodrigues (SC) maj-dec Hunter Green, 14-0
132-Jake Rippeon (SC) dec Heathe Hernandez, 14-9
138-Chad Shaffer (MV) pinned Anthony Bond, 1:21
145-Rylan Moose (SC) pinned Kaleb Reid, 1:22