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By Lem Satterfield @satterfield_lem
Coach John Furgeson’s Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets are back to engage the Montgomery County wrestling scene, returning seven starters, including sophomore, junior and senior state runners-up Michael Emerick (132), Timothy Furgeson (195) and Elijah Baisden (285) from a program that earned its seventh consecutive and 16th overall county tournament championship.
“We return seven starters from a team that won the county, region and state duals,” said Furgeson. “Baisden went 46-2, Timothy Furgeson, 46-4, and Michael Emerick went 41-4.”
A two-time county champion, Timothy Furgeson improved on his freshman season’s regional runner-up finish with a crown in last year’s event as did Baisden, a 195-pounder as a sophomore and winner of his first county title as a junior.
Junior Aiden Beall (220) place third at counties and regions, junior Silas Patton (113) won 17 matches, and sophomore Nick Biava (132), 25 matches. Newcomers Brody Douglas (145) and Chris Hyer (138) are expected to contribute.
The Swarmin’ Hornets vanquished Glenelg of Howard County 49-16 in the Class 2A dual meet championship finals in February 2018, completing their second consecutive 25-0 dual meet season with their 152nd win in a row and their program’s unprecedented sixth straight state duals crown.
The Swarmin’ Hornets also beat Class 4A state dual champion Urbana of Frederick County, 40-18, and Class 3A title winner Huntingtown, 54-7.
The Swarmin’ Hornets couldn’t win a seventh Class 2A-1A state tournament given the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s adjusted structure in April to no longer keep team scores when crowning individual champions.
Although no official team scores were tabulated at states, calculations on the popular Maryland Wrestling Forum had the Swarmin’ Hornets (161 points), Glenelg (121) of Howard County and Owings Mills (98.5) of Baltimore County finishing, first, second and third.
The Swarmin’ Hornets will compete in the County’s 3A-2A conference with Blake, Magruder, Poolesville, Rockville, Seneca Valley and Watkins Mill.
Poolesville went 10-4 and will be led by senior Alex Carbonell (113) and junior Colin Savage (138), who are coming off of 37-1 and 33-5 seasons with both being third at states a week after being third and second at regions, respectively.
A fourth-place county finisher as a sophomore, Savage, as a freshman, was third at counties, a regional champ and placed fifth at states. Carbonell was a county champion as a junior after being second as a sophomore, when he was also a regional runner-up and sixth-place finisher at states.
Junior Xavier Kresslein won 33 matches and was county runner-up and third at regions at 160, senior Kieran Barney won 24 and was fourth at counties at 182, and senior Sam Hull, 28 bouts and was fifth at counties at 132.
“Michael Sofelkanik is an incoming freshman who placed eighth at states last year. Along with Kevin Fultz, who placed second at states, our newcomers look good,” said Poolesville coach Tim Tao.
“We also have Alex Carbonell and Colin Savage, and state qualifier Xavier Kresslein and region qualifiers Sam Hull and Kieran Barney. Those returning give us a strong team.”
Tim Tao’s brother, Magruder coach AJ Tao, and his Colonels went 12-12 in dual meets, and “have a few kids who we hope will go deep into the post season,” he said.
Senior Wafeeq Iqbal won 35 matches and finished third at counties and regions at 113 last year, junior Colton Houldsworth won 25 matches at 126, senior Sabio Amah won 30 bouts and was fifth at counties and third at regions, and Caleb Taylor was a junior varsity county runner-up.
Watkins Mill went 3-11 a year ago, and Wolverines wrestling coach Tony Barnes will look to juniors Justin Benitez (113), Victor Kum (152) and Mayquel Casco (195) as well as sophomore Seda Tsarni (145).
“We return four starters from last season. I have a couple of incoming freshmen with junior league experience that I hope can step in and contribute,” said Barnes. “With that couple of incoming freshmen, I hope to increase our win total and build a competitive team with the many new young athletes.”
Seneca Valley coach Aron Dorsey, a former state champion at Quince Orchard, has his hands full trying to improve on an 8-16 record of a year ago as the Screamin’ Eagles field a young team.
Senior Joseph Muturi, junior Elvis Gomez and sophomores Leif Garbo and Julius Valle have the most experience, but junior leaguers Thomas Strong III and Cravin Johnson show promise.
Class 4A-3A West Region champion Sherwood could be the team to beat in the difficult 4A East, comprised of Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Churchill, Kennedy, Richard Montgomery, Springbrook, Walter Johnson, Wheaton and Whitman.
“We return 10 JV tournament place-winners, including two champs and three runners-up,” said Sherwood coach Pete Siarkis, who has nine starters back from a varsity that went 9-5 overall and 5-3 in the conference, with all three of the losses being by a point. “We return six state qualifiers, one state runner-up, seven regional qualifiers, two region champs, six regional place-winners, one county champ and six county placers.”
Senior county and regional champion Chris Sanchez (24-1 record) was a Class 4A state runner-up at 138, senior Yusuf Higazi (38-5) was a regional champion after finishing third at counties at 170, and senior Sam Ewing (32-11) and junior Adam Pfeiffer (31-11) were both fourth at counties and third at regions at 132 and 160.
Senior Paul Christianson (33-13) was fifth at counties and third at regions at 126, junior Brandon Holda (30-15), fifth and fourth at 113, and sophomore Ethan Oslow won 16 matches at 106.
Brandon’s twin, Brady, is up from the junior varsity, where he was a 120-pound runner-up to junior teammate Armon Nettey. Other junior varsity runners-up were senior Marc Kemgang and junior Jacob Dulaney, with senior Jake Stern also expected to contribute.
The Churchill Bulldogs are coached by Tim Lowe and Tony Howard, who are former two- and three-time state champions at Einstein and Magruder.
The Bulldogs return nine starters from a squad that went 16-2 overall and 8-0 in their division, winning the 4A West Regional Duals and being runners-up in the Class 4A state dual meet.
Senior Alec Velikanov (285), a county runner-up and regional champion, and senior Carlos Villamar, who was fourth at regions at 132, have “experience that will be valuable to the team,” said Lowe.
Junior Djamil Sarr won 23 matches and was fifth at counties at 160, senior Oliver Yang won 18 bouts at 126, and Luke Calhoun, Parker DeSalvio, Ryan Kaplow and Nick Monteferrante will compete throughout the Bulldogs’ lineup.
The Springbrook Blue Devils are coming off a 19-5 season and return seven starters from a squad that was runner-up in the regional duals to eventual state champion Urbana of Frederick County.
Coach Rob Whittles will be counting on senior Sahid Antar, whose 37-10 record at 160 was comprised of being third at counties, second at regions and fifth at states. Junior Sayfore Sieh was fifth at counties and third in the region at 120, and junior Pierre Jean, third at regions at 106.
Senior Aimrick Nya (285) was third at counties, and seniors Dassaeve Jean, Jean Mehul and Jason Strattonbey all qualified for regions at 132, 138 and 145 pounds.
“Grayson Wendel is a multi-time state place-winner at junior leagues,” said Whittles. “We are expecting him to transition well to high school competition.”
The Whitman Vikings under coach Derek Manon went 10-4, barely missing the regional duals competition.
Senior Yussef Zaki (220) was a regional runner-up who placed fourth at counties and went 28-10 last year; junior John Mackall (160-170) was fifth at counties and sixth at regions, senior Max Gersch (160), fifth at counties, and junior Sebastian Turkewitz (170-182), sixth at regions.
“The team is returning 12 of 14 starters,” said Manon. “In addition to that, we have a host of hungry and talented wrestlers in all grades who will be challenging for varsity spots in the lineup.”
Others Vikings expected to contribute are Isaac Besrat (113), Peyton Casamento (120-126), Caleb Brenner (120-125), Sean Fleming (126-132), Matthew Lindstrom (138), Colby Fong (145), Thomas Santora (182) and Tom Willmarth (285).
The B-CC Barons under coach Nick Arnone went 24-8 overall and 10-4 in the county, finishing as runners-up in the Class 4A West regional duals.
Critical to the Barons’ success will be the Guttentag siblings, freshman Ike (106), sophomore Drew (138-145) and senior Eli (132-138).
Eli earned county and regional titles as a ninth-grader, and has placed third at states as a freshman and junior. During each occasion at states, Eli’s semifinal loss was to the eventual champion – Bel Air’s Brent Lorin in the first instance, and Linganore’s Earl Blake last March.
Ike was a multi-junior league place-winner, in succession, finishing first, second, fourth and fifth at the Maryland State Wrestling Association’s states where Drew placed second.
Drew posted an 11-3 record during last year’s injury-shortened 10th-grade season, and Barons’ junior Christian Simpson (113) was a county runner-up and fourth-place regional finisher.
Brian Frantz takes the helm for Walter Johnson Wildcats squad that was 7-7 in the conference and 15-11 overall, and whose former coach, Geary FitzPatrick, will guide the junior varsity. Evan Silver still is an assistant.
Regional and state runner-up Jacob Bernstein returns after a 36-win season during which he lost to state champion Ryan McLaughlin of Damascus on the way to placing third at counties, and to Linganore’s state champion Earl Blake at regions and states.
Seniors Ibriham Woodard (106), Enrique Garcia (182) and Kenneth Kang (152) won 23, 20 and 18 matches last year, senior Elijah Hill (285) returns to the starting lineup.
“Walter Johnson returns a few starters,” said Frantz. “We’re leaning on the senior leadership of Kenneth Kang and returning state finalist Jacob Bernstein to help the newcomers develop into their varsity roles.”
Leading the Wheaton Knights is junior Yoseph Yilma (120-125), a fourth-place county finisher, and senior Constance Nwaigwe (106-113), winner of the inaugural Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association girls’ state tournament in February.
The Knights also return senior Toma Kamara (138-145) from a team that went 6-8 overall and 1-7 in its conference under coach Kolawole Marville, whose assistants are Michael and Timothy Mallet and Jethro Antoine.
“We have several new wrestlers this season who could show some promise, but none with wrestling experience previous to this season. About 15 upperclassmen and around five underclassmen are participating. We’re off to a bit of a rough start after being hit with a preseason injury to our fourth captain, Samuel Meireles, a junior who is expected to go at 138 or 145. We’re looking forward to his return and quiet, stoic leadership,” said Marville.
“We have the largest numbers I’ve had as a coach at Wheaton. Even though our numbers add a bit more depth, there is not as much youth as expected. I’m hoping for about a .500 season with more individual success during the tournament and the postseason. We did not send a wrestler to states last season for only the second time ever. We’re looking to continue making strides to returning Wheaton to former glory.”
Comprising the 4A West is Blair, Clarksburg, Einstein, Gaithersburg, Northwest, Northwood, Paint Branch, Quince Orchard and Wootton.
Coach Tim Grover’s Blair Blazers went 26-7 overall and 7-1 to win the West Division. The Blazers qualified for the 4A North Region Duals, falling in the first round.
Sophomore Brian McCaw (106) was fifth at counties and fourth at regions after winning 35 matches, junior Mervin Mancia (285) won 25, senior Biruk Tona (132) had 17 wins, and Ernest Son (170), 14 victories.
Steven Vilmenay (145), Jason Kaplan (152), Brennan Moore (160), Elias Chen (195) and Joel Paulino ( 220) “all saw varsity time last year,” said Grover. “Their seasons were cut short by injuries, but all five will be key pieces of our varsity squad this season.”
Aidan Rogers and Muhammad Baig split time on varsity at 106 for two seasons, placing third and fourth at JV counties last season.
Newcomers Nikolai Tochillin (126) and Junior Kim (138) bring junior league experience, and senior first-year wrestler Brandon Ntankeu (182) is a football standout with a chance to land on varsity.
“We graduated eight starters and return a lot of talented depth from last year’s JV squad,” said Grover. “We’ll also have our biggest freshman class in my four years at Blair, with lots of prior experience. We’re hoping to reload and make another run at the region and state duals.”
Quince Orchard coach Rob Wolf will rely on senior Jose Echeonoa (132), a county runner-up who was third at regions and fourth at states.
Echeona is also at 99 career victories for the Cougars, who are coming off a 7-7 season. Junior Ryan Jones (195) won 28 matches and was fifth at counties before finishing fourth at both regions and states.
Seniors Carlos Guerrero (113) and Jay Bollinger (182), juniors Rodrigo Cornejo (126) and Thomas DeCastro (220), and sophomores Michael Monkevich (145) are expected to make major contributions. Guerrero and Cornejo were also regional qualifiers.
The Paint Branch Panthers of 26th-year coach Rick Smith were 18-11 overall, and, 7-7 within the division. The Panthers are led by Smith’s son, senior Austin (195), whose 39-5 record is comprised of being third at counties, second at regions and fourth at states.
Senior Wafeu Fuondjing(285) won 36 matches and was fourth at both counties and regions. Others returning are Tyler Przygocki (152), Wisdom Agbeyome (215) and Kyle Isolato (182), with newcomer Matt Silva (195) bringing junior league experience.
“We hope to improve as the season goes on,” said Rick Smith. “We have a young squad with some veteran experience.”
Clarksburg is coming off an 11-3 season under coach Rob Pinsky, whose Coyotes qualified for the Class 4A East Regional Duals.
Senior Jevon Coche (220) won 28 matches and was fourth at counties and regions, sophomore Alex Gonzalez (120) was fourth at counties and fifth at regions, and senior Austin Smith (285), fifth at counties.
“We look to compete for the duals again this year,” said Pinsky. “Despite some significant departures.”
The Northwest Jaguars have a new coach in Ferris Bond, whose assistants are alumnus T.J. Patterson and Mauro Beteta, each of whom Bond coached.
The Jaguars finished at 10-4 in the conference and crowned graduated county, region and state champ Yonas Harris (106), whose primary practice partner returns in Siavash Sarvestani, who was first and counties and regions and fifth at states at 113 pounds with a record of 43-6.
Also returning is junior Fargo All-American Maggie Palmore, winner of the inaugural MPSSAA girls’ state tournament and a third-place finisher in the July 12-20 Cadet Nationals Tournament at The Fargodome on the campus of North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.
Palmore’s 5-1 record at the nationals included a pair of technical falls. In February, Palmore decked all four of her MPSSAA tournament female rivals in the first period.
“I am excited for the opportunity to take over for Joe Vukovich as the head coach,” said Bond. “He has been a tremendous mentor and he has left large shoes to fill. I was his assistant for the last 6 seasons prior to this one. We have a young and hungry team. We return only a few starters from a team that qualified for the region duals.”
Bond added, “We have a few seniors who will help our large contingent of sophomores and juniors continue to develop into championship caliber wrestlers. We have a tough schedule this year and our team is working hard to prepare for that challenge. Our goal this year and every year is to qualify for the region dual tournament as a team and to qualify all 14 weight classes for the individual state tournament.”
Coach Eric Britton’s Gaithersburg Trojans look to improve on last year’s 6-8 record with a number of returnees, among them junior 28-match winner, Chris Marones (160), who was fourth at regions.
Others back are seniors Daniel Gonzales (182), Xavier Gutierrez (195), juniors Isaac Pellegrino (120), Navid Ighani (138) and Jaedyn Harris (170), and sophomores Dylan McClintock (132) and Gabriel Lara (285).
“With this many starters coming back,” said Britton, “We look to improve on last year’s record.”
After going 4-10 as a team last season, coach Shane Bramble’s Wootton squad will be led by the sophomore Liau twins, Jason (113) and Eric (106), who won 30 and 25 matches.
Junior Henry Wooley (152) won a summer league tournament and Damon Dvorson (145) is a newcomer.
“We are looking to build off a very young team this season,” said Bramble.
Coach Oscar Salazar’s Einstein Titans look to improve on a 4-10 record of a year ago.
“We’re looking forward to building and growing a young team led by senior captains Allan Vasquez and Geremy Lopez,” said Salazar.
Senior Allan Vasquez won 36 matches and finished third at both counties and regions, and Geremy Lopez was fourth at counties at 145.
Salazar expects big things from Alex Davis (120), Percy Lagos (182), Zachary Greenstein (106), Brandt Kaufmann (138) and Zachary Greenwald (152).