Junior title winners Chris Sanchez (138) and Yusuf Higazi (170) are among eight wrestlers from the Sherwood Warriors who placed fourth or higher at the Feb. 23 and 24 Class 4A-3A North Regionals at Milford Mill High, an effort that qualifies the contingent for this weekend’s Class 4A-3A state tournament at The Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro.
Finishing third were Sherwood senior Rhyth Ghosh (152) and juniors Paul Christianson (126), Sam Ewing (132), Tristan McKneely (145) and Adam Pfeiffer (160), with sophomore Brandon Holda (113) being fourth.
Blair and Paint Branch each had five wrestlers place within the top four of their divisions at Class 4A-3A North Regions, and Springbrook placed four, all of whom qualified for states.
Ghosh pinned Dheduhs Anumgba of Paint Branch in their third-place bout, avenging a 9-4 loss and improving on his sixth-place finish at counties where Anumgba was third.
Ewing upset Blair’s Bryan Huynh, 3-1, in overtime for third place, avenging an earlier 11-7 loss and improving on his fourth place finish at counties where Huynh was first.
Also, Pfeiffer improved on his fourth-place finish at counties, Holda on his fifth, and Christianson his sixth. McKneely failed to place at counties.
“It’s great to see all of the hard work and effort is starting to pay off at the right time,” said Sherwood wrestling coach Pete Siarkas. “The boys have worked real hard, and I’m glad they are peaking at the right time.”
Sanchez (21-0) followed up his county championship performance of a week earlier by using a pair of pins to reach the finals, where he blanked senior Baltimore County runner-up Chase Andrews of Perry Hall, 9-0.
A week earlier, Sanchez required a takedown in the finals seconds for a 3-2 victory over Churchill’s Jack Connolly, a former county champion and regional runner-up who has also twice placed third at regions and finished fourth and sixth at states.
Sanchez repeated an earlier effort against Connolly during a Feb. 3 dual meet, where he edged the Bulldogs’ grappler, 5-4, on a reversal with 10 seconds left. Sanchez’s county semifinal 14-0 shutout of Clarksburg’s Nick Gonzalez was more dominant than last month, which he won 15-8 for the Springbrook tournament title.
“The regional title proved to be less of a challenge for me than the county title,” said Sanchez, who was fifth at private school states at DeMatha last year. “Each tournament win is just a stepping-stone to my overall wrestling goals. Right now, the state championship is one of my biggest goals.”
Sanchez and Connolly competed in the county’s most difficult weight class, featuring returning state place-winners in Gonzalez, Poolesville’s Colin Savage, Quince Orchard’s Alejandro Lopez and Damascus’ Josh Creegan, who finished third, fourth, fifth and sixth at counties last weekend.
Gonzalez was first at counties and regions and third at states a year ago when Connolly lost his fifth-place bout at states in overtime to Savage, a returning sophomore regional champion who was third at counties last season.
Lopez was third at counties, regions, and states last year at 132, and Creegan, third at counties, fourth at regions and sixth at states at 138.
Last weekend at counties, Connolly won his quarterfinal, 2-1 over Lopez, avenging a loss by second-period pin before winning his semifinal, 12-1 over Savage.
But at Saturday’s Class 4A-3A West Regions at Clarksburg, Gonzalez overcame Connolly 6-2 in their semifinal before falling 1-0 to Lopez in the championship bout.
Connolly pinned his way to a third-place finish at the Class 4A-3A West regionals, and Savage was a runner-up at the Class 2A-1A West regionals at Boonsboro High in Washington County.
Higazi (37-3) improved on his third-place finish at counties, pinning his quarterfinal opponent before winning his semifinal, 10-9 in overtime against senior third-place finisher Rashard Brown of Baltimore City’s Mervo.
A fifth-place regional finisher last year, Higazi earned his crown, 4-3 over Parkville senior Peter Ngaba, a fourth-place finisher in Baltimore County.
A week earlier at counties, Higazi lost his semifinal, 6-5 to two-time county runner-up Luke Patterson (29-3) of Northwest, who won a crown at the Feb. 23 and 24 Class 4A-3A West Regionals at Clarksburg.
“With my style of wrestling, I will have a lot of close matches. Some will go my way while the others won’t. I just go out and trust my conditioning and wrestle the whole match,” said Higazi, a junior varsity county champion as a freshman.
“Last week’s loss helped me to push myself throughout the week to become mentally and physically prepared for regionals. It just feels great to know that all of the work I’ve put in over the past three years has paid off.”
Senior county runner-up Ryan Holland (145) of Blair was second at regions, having placed fourth at counties and states and third at region as a junior. The Blazers’ all-time leader, Holland has 109 career wins.
Joining Huynh and Holland, senior Leo West (182) was third, and senior Rudy Ngougni (220) and freshman Brian McCaw (106), both fourth. Ngougni was a county runner-up where McCaw was sixth, and West failed to place.
In addition to Anumgba, Paint Branch also placed senior Brian Trinh (106) and junior Austin Smith (195) as runners-up, and senior Tom Bettinger (182) and junior Wafeu Fuondjing (285), both fourth. Smith was third at counties, Fuondjing, fourth, Trinh, fifth, and Bettinger, sixth.
Placing for Springbrook were runner-up Sahid Antar (160), with sophomores Pierre Jean (106) and Sayfore Sieh (120) being third, and senior Jack Brutus (195), fourth. Antar was third at counties, where Sieh was fifth, Brutus, sixth, and Jean failed to place.