At the War On The Shore Tournament at Stephen Decatur High in Berlin in Worcester County on Jan. 12 and 13, Damascus’ state champion Ryan Lawrence (145) won his semifinal 3-1, over Virginia’s sixth-place state finisher Elijah Williams of Nansemond River High, then secured his third-straight crown by head-locking two-time Delaware state runner-up Kyle McDonough of Sanford High for a 64-second fall.
A two-time county and regional champion who managed a third-place finish at states as a sophomore, Lawrence (28-0) led the Swarmin’ Hornets (224.5 points) to a runner-up finish behind Baltimore area power Mount St. Joseph (269) on the strength of three falls in a combined 2 minutes, 52 seconds.
State champion Paul Purkey (195) and two-time third-place state finisher Johnny McLaughlin (126) were runners-up for the second straight season, and John Allan Furgeson (152) was third after being fourth a year ago among seven Swarmin’ Hornets finishing within the top four of their weight classes and 11 within the top eight.
The Swarmin’ Hornets’ Elijah Baisden (285) was third, Josh Creegan (138) and Ben Lokos (170), fourth, Timothy Furgeson (160), fifth, Aiden Bell (220), sixth, and Michael Emerick (106) and Dyllan Ramirez (132), seventh and eighth.
“Ryan did a fantastic job in the finals as he has each year in this tournament,” said coach John Furgeson, whose Swarmin’ Hornets (15-0) have won six straight state tournaments, five consecutive state dual meet titles, 15 county tournaments and 142 straight matches. “It was a tough tournament, that’s why we go there and how we’re going to get better. We learned a lot about our young kids and what we need to work on.”
After a 38-second fall in his first match, Lawrence finished Baltimore City champion De’airus Carr in 70 seconds of their quarterfinal before edging Williams, a two-time conference title-winner.
In his two previous years, Lawrence won War On The Shore by default and, 4-1, respectively, each time over the host school’s Andy McKahan, who graduated last year after having placed second, third and fourth at states.
“I was really focused on being champion again after winning it the past two years. It was a good test for our team,” said Lawrence. “Of course we would have liked to have beaten St. Joe, but now we know where we need to improve. It’s just about getting back in the room and making some adjustments.”
Purkey reached the finals on falls in 15-, 17- and 22-seconds, but was taken down to his back and pinned in 3:57 of the title bout by senior private schools runner-up Austin Stith of Mount St. Joseph. Stith, who trailed, 5-3, at the time of the fall, wrestled at Gaithersburg as a sophomore.
McLaughlin lost, 17-4, to Cameron Hayes of Caesar Rodney, a two-time Delaware state champion he had pinned in the previous year’s semifinal.
For Good Counsel, third-place private schools finisher Cord Richardson (132) was third at War On The Shore, and eighth-placers Cole Robilotto (152), Avery Miller (160), Conor Lozupone (113) were sixth, seventh and eighth. The Falcons’ Brandon Roberts (285) also placed seventh.
Also at the War On The Shore was Bethesda-Chevy Chase, getting a fifth-place finish from county and regional champion Gabe McAndrew (195). A fifth-place finisher at last year’s states, McAndrew lost his semifinal, 1-0, to Stith but has been pinned in 1:27 by Purkey this season.
Also placing for B-CC at War On The Shore were Chris Simpson (106) and a Rhy Cohen (182), each of whom was sixth.
Looking to challenge Damascus is Churchill’s squad, which is enjoying a splendid season under coaches Tim Lowe and Tony Howard with an overall record of 18-0 and 8-0 minus tournament dual meets.
Under Lowe, who was a two-time state champion at Einstein at the same time Howard was a three-timer at Magruder, the Bulldogs went 10-0, winning both the Rocket Launch Duals at Richard Montgomery and the Joe Verciglio Memorial Tournament at Chantilly High of Virginia.
Leading the way is Fio Tranquill (182) at 23-0 followed by Jack Connolly (138) and Andrew Welch (195) each at 22-1. Alec Velikanov (285) is 21-1, Elijah Jack (152) is 20-1, and Mac Ballman (220), 15-1.
Connolly won his first county title, finished third at regions and was sixth at states at 126 pounds a year ago after being second, second and fourth in the same tournaments as a sophomore.
Welch won county and regional titles before placing fifth at states, Velikano was second at regions, and Tranquill, third at counties and regions.
Also wrestling well for the Bulldogs are Chris Ervin (120) and Sean Mahan (145) with records of 21-2 and 20-2, Anthony Slaughter (113) and Luke Calhoun (106) at 18-3 and 10-3, Chris Villamar (132) at 18-4, and Djamil Sarr (170) at 16-5. Oliver Yang (126) is 14-5 and Parker DSalvio (160), 13-7.
Seniors Bryan Huynh (132), Ryan Holland (152) and Rudy Ngougni (220) went undefeated in nine bouts for the Montgomery Blair Blazers, who won last weekend’s Hammond Duals.
Holland (23-3 on the year) was fourth at counties and states and third at regions, Ngougni (27-1), fourth at counties and third at regions, and Huynh (23-4), a junior varsity county champion last year.
Senior Pelumi Akinpelu (170) and freshman Brian McCaw (106) are 23-4, sophomore Mervin Mancia (285) is 21-4, and Joel Paulino (195), 14-4. McCaw was a junior league state champ a year ago.
Blazers’ seniors Ryan Handel (113) and Leo West (182) are 20-6, and, 20-7, respectively, and senior Noah Chopra-Khan (138) has 17 victories.
Magruder’s senior county and regional champion C.J. Cramma (120) went 10-0 at last weekend’s Rebel Invitational at South Hagerstown High School, capped by a fall over an opponent for his 100th career victory.
A third-place finisher at last year’s Class 4A-3A states, Cramma (20-1) earned major decisions over a pair of quality 126-pound wrestlers in the process. Also wrestling well were Cramma’s teammates, Wafeeq Iqbal (113), Eric Lowe (285) and Sabio Amah (220), going 10-0, 9-1, and, 8-1, respectively.
Landon of coach Andy Katz swept Friday’s quad meet over Virginia’s Woodberry Forrest, 61-15, Pallotti, 74-6, and the Georgetown Prep Little Hoyas, 52-28, ending a 13-year winless streak against the latter. The Bears’ victory is the first sign they could end the Little Hoyas’ 13-year hold on the Interstate Athletic Conference tournament crown.
Leading the Bears was Brendon Gallagher (145), an IAC champion and private schools state runner-up, who registered a first-period pin and two technical falls. Also going 3-0 were Class 4A-3A state runner-up and Parkdale of Prince George’s County transfer Axel Giron (120), IAC runner-up Jelani Machen (170), IAC champions Lorenzo Lopez (126) and Carter Johnson (220) and also Jonny Gherman (160).
Gherman notched two pins and a technical fall, Lopez and Giron each had two falls and a forfeit, Johnson had a pin, a technical fall, and an overtime victory, while Machen had a pin, a major decision, and a decision.
Bears’ sophomore Marc Schermer (152) went 2-0 with as many pins, senior Luc Schermer (138) was also 2-0, Nick Haller (182) was 2-1, and IAC champ Patrick Kielb (132), 1-0.