Cavaliers have three champs; Sparrows Point crowns two

by Billy Loverocket

Team scores were not officially tabulated at the 1A-2A State Wrestling Tournament at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro this weekend. However, VSN did track the scores, though, and South Carroll’s three champs helped push them to the top of the heap with 144.5 points to Williamsport’s 118.

All three of the Cavaliers titlists were defending state champs, who won their first titles as freshmen. Last year was lost to COVID-19, but this year No. 1 Michael Pizzuto (126), No. 1 Gage Owen (132), and No. 2 AJ Rodrigues (160) got back to the top spot of the podium.

The most anticipated bout of the finals was Rodrigues’ showdown with Stephen Decatur’s two-time defending state champ, No. 1 Noah Reho. Most of South Carroll’s wrestlers dropped down a weight class for the post-season but Rodrigues chose to stay at 160 in hopes of meeting the Seahawk in the finals.

Rodrigues pinned all three of his foes to reach the finals. Reho dominated his side of the bracket with two pins and a tech-fall. Both registered escapes in their meeting, but the Cavalier put a takedown on the ledger for the 3-1 win, to finish with a 40-0 record.

“I always want to wrestle the best opponent I can wrestle even if it means I have to stay up a weight class,” said Rodrigues. “Beating a multi-year state champion for my second state title is bittersweet, especially when it was my 100th win. I knew ahead of time staying up a weight class to wrestle Reho was going to be a challenge with me being under the weight class, but I knew with my speed and technique I could capitalize and beat him.”

Pizzuto capped his own undefeated season (40-0) with a 2-0 blanking of Glenelg’s No. 7 Kyle Hansberger. The junior was 50-0 as a freshman.

Rising Sun wrestlers Mason Testerman, Tyler Garvin, and Elijah Farr with their coaching staff.

“I was excited to wrestle again at the state tournament,” Pizzuto said. “It is always a good weekend when you have the best kids in the state competing for one goal. I have been training all year for this and together with my coaches and teammates we were able to end the season on a high. We won a state dual title as a team, and I was able to continue my undefeated high school career and earn another state title.”

Owen, who is 38-0 and the overall No. 1 132lber in the state, posted two falls and a 10-0 major decision to reach the title bout where he decked No. 4 Ricky Figueroa (Chesapeake-BC) in the second period, 3:03.

“(I was) grateful to have had states this year after Covid last year,” Owen added. “It always feels amazing to get a second state title. To be dominant in this sport or anything you do takes sacrifice. It is the extra work you put in when nobody’s watching that makes the difference.”

No. 2 Rylan Moose was second at 170. No. 2 Ryan Athey won the 120lb third-place match 2-1 over No. 4 Owen Bell (Hereford). No. 3 Evan Owens was fourth at 106.

Manchester Valley had three place winners, and one champ. No. 2 Jake Boog pinned No. 1 Ethan Sotka (Glenelg) at the 3:37 mark of the second frame for the glory at 152lbs. No. 3 Travis Green was third at 145 and No. 6 Kobe Pennewell was third at 220lbs.

Liberty’s Ohler brothers were their squad’s only award winners. No. 2 Dylan was fourth at 113. No. 4 Ryan wrestled like a man possessed, posting upset after upset on his title run.

In the opening round, the senior faced off with No. 2 Jack Mulligan (Kent Island) and won a crazy one, 13-10. In the quarters, Ohler avenged his county tournament finals loss to Manchester Valley’s Green, 5-3. On the championship stage, the Lion saved the best for last, as he took out No. 1 Gavin Solito (Stephen Decatur), 7-4.

“After losing at counties, I knew I had to step it up,” Ohler continued. “But me winning states, that wasn’t an upset. I have two losses. One of them I redeemed yesterday, and the other was against a state champ (AJ Rodrigues in a dual meet), so it is what it is. This feels amazing.”

Two more Carroll County grapplers brought hardware home, Winters Mill’s No. 5 Chris Gaeng (6th at 106) and Francis Scott Key’s Bodey Griffin, who was unranked, but placed fifth at 160.

Sparrows Point Placers (from left) Wayne Brooks, Gage Carr, Dom Ambrosino, Tyler Maynor.

Both of Sparrows Point’s champs pulled off upsets to win their weight classes. Dom Ambrosino (No. 5 at 120) used an overtime pin (6:58) of No. 2 Athey to reach the finals, where two-time state runner-up, No. 1 Landen Harbaugh (Williamsport) awaited him.

Ambrosino went to work early and started pummeling Harbaugh with an onslaught of pinning combinations, destroying his adversary before planting him 33 seconds into the final period, 4:33. On paper, coming out on top was not expected from the Pointer, on top of the path in front of him here, Ambrosino had fallen in the regions to Hereford’s Bell.

“Coach told me to score every point I can here rather than a five-point move,” Ambrosino said. “I stayed composed, waited for him to make a mistake and I took advantage of it. Rankings are just numbers on a paper until you’re No. 1. Now, I have a little bit of an agenda. I have to come back next year and do the same thing.”

No. 3 Gage Carr (19-0) followed in his brother Lexx’s footsteps by winning a state title as a senior. Carr’s talents were known throughout the wrestling world, but injuries derailed him from fulfilling his potential on the high school level. That changed this year, and his gold was earned with a 1-0 win over Parkside’s No.1 Eli Sellinger (a two-time state placer).

“It was nice, a state title was the goal, and we worked on it and achieved the goal,” Carr added. “I was overthinking my matches the whole tournament and took a more laidback approach to this match, coach even came up and asked, “You warmed up and ready” and I responded “(I’m) just gonna do what I need to do to win”. (I) didn’t force anything and knew that kid had nothing for me. The title run could have went a lot smoother but at the end of the day I got it done and won it all.”

Joining Ambrosino and Carr on the podium for the Point were No. 8 Tyler Maynor (5th at 113) and No. 3 Wayne Brooks (5th at 138).

In addition to Bell, who was fourth at 120, Hereford had one more placer, No. 4 Emerson Lehnert (4th at 152). Owings Mills had two guys earn awards, No. 8 Tae Simpson (3rd at 160) and No. 7 Wes Beckett (5th at 285). Simpson pinned No. 3 Adin Hastings (Williamsport) in the quarters, 2:51. Figueroa (2nd at 132) was the final Baltimore County placer.

Glenelg took five wrestlers to the state tournament and watch all five earn spots on the podium. Hansberger and Sotka were second. No. 6 Kian Payne won the 195lb third-place match, 10-4, over No. 4 David Van Wie (Kent Island). No. 8 Jaegon Hibbitts (138) and No. 3 Daniel Vaysman (170) were fourth.

Hammond’s lone placer was No. 4 Austin Stewart who edged No. 2 Carter Hess (Fort Hill), 3-1, for third place.

Southern of Anne Arundel County had two placers, No. 3 Justin Knapp was fifth at 126 and No. 6 Andrew Ruel was fourth at 145.

Rising Sun has a young nucleus that will be making them a force to be reckoned with in the future. Three of those youngsters shined at states as two sophomores, No. 1 Tyler Garvin (106) and No. 5 Mason Testerman (170), grabbed hardware along with freshman Elijah Farr (No. 7 at 220). Testerman was third and Farr was fifth. Garvin, who is also the overall No. 1 in the state at 106, completed his undefeated campaign (43-0) with a 16-2 major decision of No. 7 Nate Wilhelm (Northern Garrett).

“There was a lot of hard work and practices that went into this weekend,” Garvin said. “I’m lucky to have so many great coaches and practice partners that prepare me for tough matches. My coaches push me to score lots of points and that’s the style I try to wrestle.”

C. Milton Wright placed two wrestlers, No. 3 Demetrios Gourgoulianis was second at 113, while No. 6 Carter Goscinski was fourth at 160.

Harford Tech’s Mendez brothers were the stars for their team with No. 2 Kelvin reaching the 195lb finals and No. 8 Kevin placing fifth at 152. Kelvin came up short in his battle with No. 1 Alex Koulikov (Stephen Decatur), losing by fall, 3:52.

North East in Cecil County saw two wrestlers step on the podium, No. 5 Ethan Doctor was fourth at 182 and unranked Mason Boyd was sixth at 113.

Dunbar kept their state placer streak going when Corey Anderson (No. 23 overall) landed in the sixth spot at 132lbs.

Williamsport’s three champs were, No. 1 Max Larkin (285), No. 1 Darby Bryant (170), and No. 1 Zach Starr (113). Larkin posted a 6-1 decision against No. 3 Austin Alexander (Colonel Richardson). Bryant beat South Carroll’s Moose, 5-2. Starr won a tight one with CMW’s Gourgoulianis, 3-1. Larkin and Bryant are also the overall No. 1 guys in the state at their respective weights.

Koulkov was Stephen Decatur’s lone champ. No. 1 Jacob Brenneman (138) captured Northern Garrett’s only crown, 13-5, over Poolesville’s No. 7 Sam Stempler. Stempler upset Sparrows Point’s Brooks, 3-1, in the semis. No. 1 Chad Hoy used a 56 second pin of No. 2 Jalon Edwards (Patuxent) to pocket Middletown’s only title.

Note: All rankings referenced are from the MSWA’s 1A/2A Division Rankings

Pictured above: South Carroll state champions (from left) Gage Owen, Michael Pizzuto and AJ Rodrigues, flanked by coaches Zach Blessing and Matt Thomas.

Team Standings
1-South Carroll 144.5
2-Williamsport 118
3-Middletown 110.5
4-Glenelg 96
5-Stephen Decatur 86.5
6-Sparrows Point 84
7-Manchester Valley 67.5
8-Boonsboro 65
9-Northern Garrett 60.5
10-Harford Tech 55
11-Rising Sun 54.5
12-Kent Island 52.5
13-C. Milton Wright 44

1st Place Match
Tyler Garvin (Rising Sun) 43-0, So. over Nate Wilhelm (Northern-G) 36-6, So. (MD 16-2)
3rd Place Match
Tanner Halling (Boonsboro) 37-1, Fr. over Evan Owen (South Carroll) 36-5, Fr. (Fall 2:04)
5th Place Match
Dylan Hart (Middletown) 38-3, Fr. over Chris Gaeng (Winters Mill) 29-6, Fr. (MD 14-0)

1st Place Match
Zach Starr (Williamsport) 30-1, Sr. over Demetrios Gourgoulianis (C. Milton Wright) 33-5, Sr. (Dec 3-1)
3rd Place Match
Alexander DeVriendt (Middletown) 37-4, Fr. over Dylan Ohler (Liberty) 37-5, Fr. (Fall 4:14)
5th Place Match
Tyler Maynor (Sparrows Point) 15-5, . over Mason Boyd (North East) 29-12, Fr. (Fall 2:04)

1st Place Match
Dom Ambrosino (Sparrows Point) 15-2, . over Landen Harbaugh (Williamsport) 31-1, Sr. (Fall 4:33)
3rd Place Match
Ryan Athey (South Carroll) 36-1, Sr. over Owen Bell (Hereford) 39-2, . (Dec 2-1)
5th Place Match
Brian Davis (Calvert) 26-2, . over Stephen Stottlemyer (Middletown) 34-8, So. (Dec 4-3)

1st Place Match
Michael Pizzuto (South Carroll) 40-0, Jr. over Kyle Hansberger (Glenelg) 28-5, Sr. (Dec 2-0)
3rd Place Match
Sean Rinebolt (Boonsboro) 40-1, Sr. over Clark Smith (Smithsburg) 30-6, Jr. (Dec 4-2)
5th Place Match
Justin Knapp (Southern-AA) 30-3, Sr. over Reid Caimi (Stephen Decatur) 24-11, So. (Dec 3-2)

1st Place Match
Gage Owen (South Carroll) 38-0, Jr. over Ricky Figueroa (Chesapeake-BC) 25-1, Sr. (Fall 3:03)
3rd Place Match
Hunter Ballentine (Boonsboro) 39-3, Sr. over Jacob Bowman (Kent Island) 23-8, Sr. (Dec 10-4)
5th Place Match
Aiden Schwab (Southern-G) 39-3, Sr. over Corey Anderson (Paul Laurence Dunbar) 25-7, Sr. (Dec 8-1)

1st Place Match
Jacob Brenneman (Northern-G) 42-0, Jr. over Sam Stempler (Poolesville) 34-5, Jr. (MD 13-5)
3rd Place Match
Braden Bell (Catoctin) 34-7, Jr. over Jaegon Hibbitts (Glenelg) 31-7, Sr. (Fall 2:26)
5th Place Match
Wayne Brooks (Sparrows Point) 20-3, . over Miles Anderson (Westlake) 19-7, . (Dec 7-2)

1st Place Match
Ryan Ohler (Liberty) 39-2, Sr. over Gavin Solito (Stephen Decatur) 27-4, So. (Dec 7-4)
3rd Place Match
Travis Green (Manchester Valley) 48-4, Jr. over Andrew Ruel (Southern-AA) 30-5, Sr. (Dec 7-1)
5th Place Match
Morgon Corwine (Brunswick) 30-5, So. over Kolton Lee (Southern-G) 34-7, Jr. (Dec 3-1)

1st Place Match
Jake Boog (Manchester Valley) 43-3, Jr. over Ethan Sotka (Glenelg) 31-2, Jr. (Fall 3:37)
3rd Place Match
Zach Curry (Queen Anne`s) 28-4, Jr. over Emerson Lehnert (Hereford) 36-5, . (Fall 4:47)
5th Place Match
Kevin Mendez (Harford Technical) 24-4, Sr. over Cody LaTorre (Kent Island) 32-11, Sr. (Fall 2:05)

1st Place Match
AJ Rodrigues (South Carroll) 40-0, Jr. over Noah Reho (Stephen Decatur) 38-1, Sr. (Dec 3-1)
3rd Place Match
Tae Simpson (Owings Mills) 16-1, . over Carter Goscinski (C. Milton Wright) 31-9, Sr. (Fall 1:58)
5th Place Match
Bodey Griffin (Francis Scott Key) 26-12, Jr. over Hugo Frazier (Huntingtown) 25-5, . (M. For.)

1st Place Match
Darby Bryant (Williamsport) 41-0, Sr. over Rylan Moose (South Carroll) 35-4, Jr. (Dec 5-2)
3rd Place Match
Mason Testerman (Rising Sun) 42-5, So. over Daniel Vaysman (Glenelg) 32-4, Sr. (Dec 8-3)
5th Place Match
Jackson Barney (Poolesville) 29-8, Sr. over Anthony Weiss (Cambridge-South Dorchester) 27-9, Sr. (Fall 2:39)

1st Place Match
Gage Carr (Sparrows Point) 19-0, . over Eli Sellinger (Parkside) 38-1, Sr. (Dec 1-0)
3rd Place Match
Aidan Waters (Middletown) 38-3, Sr. over Ethan Doctor (North East) 37-4, Sr. (Fall 2:07)
5th Place Match
Hunter Sanders (Southern-G) 39-3, Sr. over Aidan Herche (Calvert) 14-4, . (Fall 2:43)

1st Place Match
Alex Koulikov (Stephen Decatur) 27-0, Sr. over Kelvin Mendez (Harford Technical) 29-1, Sr. (Fall 3:52)
3rd Place Match
Kian Payne (Glenelg) 29-3, Sr. over David Van Wie (Kent Island) 32-11, Sr. (Dec 10-4)
5th Place Match
Kieran Hofgesang (Middletown) 36-3, Jr. over Scott Beitzel (Northern-G) 25-9, Jr. (Dec 2-1)

1st Place Match
Chad Hoy (Middletown) 38-2, Sr. over Jalon Edwards (Patuxent) 22-5, . (Fall 0:56)
3rd Place Match
Kobe Pennewell (Manchester Valley) 43-6, Sr. over Cornell Johnson (Calvert) 21-7, . (Dec 5-4)
5th Place Match
Elijah Farr (Rising Sun) 32-8, Fr. over Mason Wolfensberger (Williamsport) 22-8, Jr. (TB-1 2-1)

1st Place Match
Max Larkin (Williamsport) 39-0, Sr. over Austin Alexander (Colonel Richardson) 28-2, Jr. (Dec 6-1)
3rd Place Match
Austin Stewart (Hammond) 33-2, Sr. over Carter Hess (Fort Hill) 30-7, So. (Dec 3-1)
5th Place Match
Wes Beckett (Owings Mills) 13-4, . over Russell Endicott (Middletown) 33-8, Sr. (Dec 7-5