Freshman Michael Emerick has embraced the intensity of wearing a Damascus wrestling uniform, validating his role in the state champion Swarmin’ Hornets’ lineup.
Emerick won all seven bouts at Saturday’s LaPlata High Duals in Charles County, including a fall over North Hagerstown’s 17th-ranked Dustin Balcita and an 8-5 decision over Huntingtown’s Jackson Cramer.
In victory, Emerick rose to 11-0 with seven pins as the Swarmin’ Hornets ran their dual meet winning streak to 139 consecutive matches after going 25-0 for their fifth straight 4A-3A state dual meet title a year ago.
“Jackson Cramer was the first match. His leg-riding was the best I’d ever wrestled. Third period I was up by a point and got a takedown to finish it off, but it was close all the way through,” said Emerick, a third-place finisher at junior league states.
“Balcita was quick to your ankles on takedowns. I had been watching him all day. That kid was fast. I knew he’d try ankle picks, and he took me down with one. There’s some pressure to wrestle at the best of your ability, knowing everyone’s expected to perform at a high level.”
Winners of six straight Class 4A-3A state tournaments, five consecutive 4A-3A state dual meet titles, and 15 county tournaments in a row, the Swarmin’ Hornets defeated Huntingtown (54-7), South River (57-6), North Hagerstown (60-12), LaPlata (63-12), North Point (66-6), King George (78-0), and, Lackey (80-0).
The Swarmin’ Hornets also received seven wins each from freshman Joe McKneeley (106), sophomore Timothy Furgeson (170), junior Elijah Baisden (285) and seniors Ryan Lawrence (152), John Allan Furgeson (160) and Ben Lokos (182).
Lawrence, a state champion and two-time county and regional title winner who was third at states as a sophomore, won his toughest bout, 8-1, over South River’s 13th-ranked Trenton Puccinelli. Baisden (285), a county and regional runner-up, outlasted South River’s Karon Lewis, 2-1, in overtime.
Lokos was a sophomore county champion who was third at regions and sixth at states, and returns after missing all of last year due to an injury. He pinned six opponents and defeated third-place state finisher, Tristan Breen, of Huntingtown, 3-1, in overtime.
“Ben’s match with Tristan was great to see,” said John Allan Furgeson, a county champ and regional runner-up who was third at states. “Ben pumped up our team. He’s picked up right where he left off, solidifying our upper weights.”
Going 6-1 were senior state champion Paul Purkey (195), juniors Dyllan Ramirez (138) and Johnny McLaughlin (132), and senior Josh Creegan (145).
The University of Maryland-bound Purkey, a county and regional champ who earned a private schools state title as a Good Counsel sophomore, scored a technical fall over North Point’s 16th-ranked Jaden Mack but was pinned in 3:21 by North Hagerstown’s three-time state champ Aaron Brooks.
North Point’s fourth-place state finisher Isaiah Edmond won a tight decision over McLaughlin, who placed first at counties and regions as a freshman and was second and first in those events last season. McLaughlin also won a 6-2 decision over LaPlata’s 16th-ranked Marco Fredrico.
Timothy Furgeson, a county champ and regional runner-up, earned an 8-4 decision over 11th-ranked Jacob Cramer of Huntingtown. Swarmin’ Hornets’ freshman Nick Biava (120) went 5-2, and sophomores Vito Vashakidze (126) and Aiden Beall (220) were each 4-3 on the weekend.
John Allan Furgeson, son of Damascus wrestling coach John Furgeson, has quarterbacked the past two of Damascus’ three straight state championship-winning football teams. The Swarmin’ Hornets hammered Gwynn Park, 31-7, the 2A state title game on December 2 before opening the wrestling season with a 78-6 victory over Watkins Mill on Dec. 9.
Timothy Furgeson, Lokos, Purkey, Baisden and Bell are all members of the Swarmin’ Hornets’ football team.
“Our coaches did a good job of helping us transition into wrestling shape from football,” said John Allan Furgeson. “A lot of us ran sprints after football practice for those quick bursts of energy you need for wrestling. That’s all paying off, but we know we were up to the challenge.”