With Reservoir holding on to a 9.5-point lead over Clarksburg headed into the semifinal round, Tuscarora’s chances of winning their own tournament for the first time looked bleak. The Titans were in fifth place at the time, 23.5 points behind the first place Gators.

However, with a spectacular final two rounds, Tuscarora stormed back, advancing six wrestlers to the finals and crowning five champions. By the end of the day, Tuscarora had moved from fifth place to first, defeating state-champions Reservoir, 209 to 200.5, for the team title.

“Finally,” said a smiling Tuscarora coach T.J Salb, “We finally won it after seven years. We have come in second twice, but we’ve never won it.”

Tuscarora’s champions included Anthony Savage (103), Xavier Spruill (119), Jake Cummings (152), state place-winner Austin Wenzlaff (160), and Matt Elgin (189).

The biggest match for Tuscarora belonged to the 189-pound champion, junior Matt Elgin, who pinned Josh Allison of Brunswick in 2:42. “The 189-pounder, that was huge,” Salb said.

Salb said he didn’t want to tell Elgin that the team’s chances at a title may fall on his shoulders. “We didn’t want to let him know that,” Salb said laughing.

There was one disadvantage that Elgin knew he would have to overcome to win the final; a 20 pound weight difference.

Elgin, who only weighs 170 pounds, lost the 171-pound wrestle-off but found a spot in the line-up at 189. “I knew we had a chance to win if everyone wrestled well, but I didn’t know it was me that would put us over,” Elgin said. “So afterwards when everybody told me, it made it even better.”

Tuscarora freshman 103-pounder Anthony Savage, the younger brother of former Titans state place-winner C.J. Savage, won his final bout via decision over Eddie Kennedy of Clarksburg.

At 119, junior Xavier Spruill beat a tough Mark Buchholz of Linganore in a match that went back and forth until the final whistle.

“My coaches definitely influenced me to keep working (in that match),” Spruill said. “It definitely took a lot of remembering what my coaches taught me; to never give up because you’re down a point or if it’s the last 20 seconds, and to just wrestle the whole match.”

Spruill was awarded the tournament’s Outstanding Lightweight Wrestler Award.

Down four points heading into the finals, Coach Salb felt confident his team could get the job done if they could score enough bonus points in the finals to overcome Reservoir’s lead.

“We had three more finalists then Reservoir going in with one head-to-head match-up, so we knew that was going to be big,” Salb said. “We won the first two (103 and 119) in some crazy matches and once we did that we had the momentum going in.”

The one head-to-head matchup was the 135-pound final between Reservoir’s Seth Rowell and Tuscarora’s Matt Wax.

Down 5-3 with one minute left, Rowell escaped and got the match to within one. With twenty seconds left, Rowell got a single-leg to score the match clinching takedown and added two near-fall points to win the match, 8-5.

“It was pretty close and right at the end, I could hear the whole Tuscarora team yelling right next to me and I was just saying to myself, ‘No way I can’t let them win,’” Rowell said. “This is the first tournament I’ve won in high school and I’m not even at my right weight yet, so it’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

Unfortunately for Rowell and his Gators, the head-to-head victory was not enough to overcome the Titans.

“We lost the head-to-head match, so we knew from there we really had to start pulling them out with bonus points and we knew the guys we had coming up were more than likely to, if they wrestle to their ability, get bonus points.”

Tuscarora’s studs answered the call. In the 152-pound final, Titans’ Jake Cummings dominated Greg McConville Jr. of the Maryland School for the Deaf, scoring a 15-0 technical fall.

Junior Austin Wenzlaff, who placed third at 145-pounds in the 4A-3A State Tournament last season, was leading 14-0 when he pinned Clarksburg’s Jared Weaver in their 160-pound final.

“My coach told me I needed to get a pin for team points and I went out there and I racked up the points I needed,” Wenzlaff said. “I knew I had to pin him at the end so coach put me on top and I did what I had to do and got the pin.”

Coach Salb believes Wenzlaff is on his way to a state championship this season.  “(Wenzlaff) is just one of those kids whose been a gamer for years. He puts so much work in the off-season,” Salb said. “He went to Sophomore Nationals, he was at Super 32 and won five matches down there. Anywhere you can go, he goes and wrestles everybody he can.”

Reservoir finished the tournament in second place for the first time, but Reservoir coach Andrew McIntyre credits Tuscarora for getting the bonus points they needed. “We preach getting those bonus points in our practice room but Tuscarora got more than we did today,” McIntyre said. “Tuscarora is a great team with some great wrestlers.”

Along with Rowell, Reservoir’s state champion Mark Colabucci continued to dominate by majoring Wooten’s Greg Potemken, 11-0, to win the 171-pound crown. Gators’ returning state-finalist Josh Hamilton never looked to be in trouble on his way to winning the heavyweight title, cruising past Walkersville’s Ty Tucker via decision in the final.

Catonsville’s Tyler Weedon won the tournament’s Outstanding Heavyweight Wrestler Award by winning all three of his matches by technical fall.

Clarksburg junior Mac Raum improved on his fourth-place finish from last year’s tournament by pinning his way through the 112-pound weight class, including a pin in 3:42 over Wooten’s Jacob Weaver in the final.

Wooten’s 130-pounder Shane Bramble pinned Frederick’s Rushion Brown with one second left after building a comfortable lead.

Team Scores:

1. 209 Tuscarora (TUS)
2. 200.5 Reservoir (RES)
3. 184.5 Clarksburg (CLA)
4. 154 Wooten (WOO)
5. 144 Poolesville (POV)
6. 122.5 Catonsville (CAT)
7. 121.5 Damascus (DAM)
8. 105 Dominion (DOM)
9. 100.5 Linganore (LIN)
10. 97 Northwood (NOR)
11. 93 Walkersville (WAL)
12. 91.5 Brunswick (BRU)
13. 89 Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD)
14. 70.5 Frederick (FRE)
15. 20 Wheaton (WHE)

Championship results:

103: Anthony Savage (TUS) dec. Eddie Madden (CLA)

112: Mac Raum (CLA) pin Jacob Weaver (WOO) 3:42

119: Xavier Spruill (TUS) dec. Mark Buchholz (LIN)

125: Mitchell Sandoe (DOM) dec. Cody Dorsey (POV)

130: Shane Bramble (WOO) pin Rushion Brown (FRE) 5:59

135: Seth Rowell (RES) dec. Matt Wax (TUS) 8-5

140: Kyle Cooper (FRE) dec. Dennis Creegan (DAM)

145: Luke Stockey (NOR) major dec. Robert Winning (POV)

152: Jake Cummings (TUS) tech. fall Greg McConville Jr. (MSD) 15-0

160: Austin Wenzlaff (TUS) pin Jared Weaver (CLA) 2:31

171: Mark Colabucci (RES) major dec. Greg Potemken (WOO) 11-0

189: Matt Elgin (TUS) pin Josh Allison (BRU) 2:42

215: Tyler Weedon (CAT) tech. fall Zachary Israel (MSD) 17-0

285: Josh Hamilton (RES) dec. Ty Tucker (WAL)

Outstanding Wrestler Awards:

Lightweight- Xavier Spruill (TUS) Heavyweight- Tyler Weedon (CAT)