Throughout much of the season, Glenelg 119-pounder, Ryan Carter, said that his Gladiators have wrestled with one eye toward their goal of earning a Class 2A-1A state dual meet title, while their hearts were with a former teammate and his family.
Chris Conway, the father of the Gladiators’ former state runner-up, Brendan Conway, is battling non-Hodkins’ Lymphoma, a form of cancer.
On Saturday night at Linganore High School in Frederick County, the Gladiators continued their inspirational season in dedication to the Conways, emerging victorious from a clash two area powers, 35-25, over Winters Mill of Carroll County for the Class 2A-1A crown.
Carter iced the triumph with one bout remaining, his 20-5, technical fall giving the Gladiators (29-2) an insurmountable, 35-19 lead, and, rendering moot an ensuing forfeit to Christian Rose (125) of the Falcons (16-2).
“This is for you, Mr. Conway, and, for Brendan Conway, his son,” said Carter, a fourth place finisher at last year’s state tournament.
“We’re happy to be here for you and to win this for you,” said Carter. “We’ve all worked hard for you, and we’re hoping that you get better.”
Carter’s was among eight critical match ups taken by the Gladiators, whose four-bout sweep from 160-to-215 turned a 10-10 tie into a 27-10 advantage with five matches left.
In succession, that run was comprised of a 16-0 technical fall by Charles Walls (160), a first-period pin by David Pruett (171), a wild, 12-8, decision by Glen Lucas (189) over the Falcons’ Marshall Chang, and a 3-1, overtime nail-biter by Matt Gochuar (215) over Brandon Burndley.
“We’ve been able to do that at different times this year in the middle there, and it’s really gotten us through some matches,” said Pruett.
“That was really huge, and it was really nice to see Gochar come back,” said Pruett. “He really gassed the other guy out and lasted the whole way when we didn’t even know if he was going to make through it without getting pinned.”
Senior Nick Cafferey (130) established the early tempo for the Gladiators, scoring a second-period fall for a 6-0 lead.
But the Falcons, in their first-ever state dual finals, rebounded to tie the overall match a 6-6 thanks to decisions by Keith Stine (135) and Cody Sharkey (140).
The teams traded major decisions over the next two bouts, with Gladiators’ Jack Borowkoski (145) winning, 15-2, and the Falcons’ Chase Cullison (152) blanking his rival, 12-0.
From there, however, the Gladiators took the next four matches, capped by Gochar’s clutch decision on a double-leg takedown in overtime.
“People tell me that I do have a good double-leg, and I just put pressure on him and was able to get it,” said Gochar, a senior. “But when you have three guys winning before you, it just gives you a lot more confidence and you really feel like you’re going to win.”
The Falcons were within, 27-19, after consecutive wins by state champion Justin Kozera (285) and Flavio Valdez-Cortez (103).
Kozera scored a 68-second fall to improve his mark to 31-0 with 25 pins and six forfeits, and Valdez-Cortez clung to a 2-1 decision over Austin Miller.
But the Gladiators led, 30-19, afer freshman Joe Zoller (112) built a 5-0 lead on the way to an an eventual, 7-6, win over Taylor Logue, after which Carter put the icing on the cake.
“Clearly they were trying to do something where they could go win-for-win with us at 171 and 189,” said first-year Gladiators’ head coach Christopher Rosas.
“Lucas is just a raw, throw-back type of kid who really transformed from being just an athlete into a wrestler tonight,” said Rosas. “So those two matches [171 and 189] were huge wins right in the middle there, but we won a lot of big matches tonight.”
Caffrey was a freshman when the Gladiators were runners-up to 11-time champion Owings Mills of Baltimore County, and a member of last year’s loser to Bel Air of Harford County, this, after having beaten the Bobcats during their regular season dual meet.
“We lost by a point my freshman year, and we lost by a point last year,” said Caffrey. “So it felt really good to come out here and to finally get it.”
In their earlier, 50-20, semifinal rout of Rising Sun of Cecil County, the Gladiators got pins from Caffrey, Walls, Pruett, Lucas, Nicky Colonello (119), Anthony Pagnotta (152) and Nick Hoyt (285), a technical fall from John Milani (135), and a decision from Gochar.
Rising Sun’s state runner-up Anthony Cimorisi (145) scored a major decision over Borowkowski, a Howard County and regional champion.
Rising Sun’s other winners were Adam Heffelfinger (125) by major decision, with decisions by Joe Juergens (103) and Lance Eveland (140), and a forfeit to Nick Billings (112).
South Region Champion Glenelg 35, West Region Champion Winters Mill 25
130- Nick Caffrey (G) p. Wes Cook, 3:01
135- Keith Stine (W) d. John Milani, 6-1
140- Cody Sharkey (W) d. Parker Dymond, 7-4
145- Jack Borokowski (G) mj. Arizona Oxendine, 15-2
152- Chase Cullison (W) mj. Anthony Pagnotta, 12-0
160- Charles Walls (G) tf. Alan Corbin, 16-0
171- David Pruett (G) p. Zach Lefko, 1:17
189- Glen Lucas (G) d. Marshall Chang, 12-8
215- Matt Gochar (G) d. Brandon Burndley, 3-1, OT
285- Justin Kozera (W) p. Nick Hoyt, 1:08
103- Flavio Valdez-Cortez (W) d. Austin Miller, 2-1
112- Joe Zoller (G) d. Taylor Logue, 7-6
119- Ryan Carter (G) tf. Gunner Cullison, 20-5.
125- Christian Rose (G) by forfeit.
South Region Champion Glenelg 50, East Region Champion Rising Sun 20
125- Adam Heffelfinger (R) mj. Austin Pagnotta, 11-0
130- Nick Caffrey (G) p. Zach Vincent, 4:12
135- John Milani (G) tf. Morgan Palmer, 19-4
140- Lance Eveland (R) d. Park Dymond, 7-5
145- Anthony Cimoris (R) mj. Jack Borowkowski, 10-2
152- Anthony Pagnotta (G) p. Jody Eveland, 3:59
160- Charles Walls (G) p. James Hyman, 3:20
171- David Pruett (G) p. Scott Hayes, 1:41
189- Glen Lucas (G) p. Nick Filliaux, 1:56
215- Matt Cochar (G) d. Ty McGee, 10-7
285- Nick Hoyt (G) p. Shane McGary, 1:19
103- Joe Juergens (R) d. Austin Miller, 8-2