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By Lem Satterfield @satterfield_lem
DERWOOD — Landon senior Jelani Machen had pinned all four opponents without a loss, and his junior Bullis rival, Austin Brown, all seven in the first period without suffering defeat.
So the stage was set for an exciting 182-pound final in Saturday’s 20-team Mad Mats Tournament at Magruder, a battle of unbeatens and a possible preview of a clash of defending Interstate Athletic Conference champions later this season.
Round One goes to Machen, who led, 5-0, before yielding a late takedown during a 5-2 victory over Brown, being joined on the victory podium by senior teammate Axel Giron (126) and junior Lorenzo Lopez (132) on the way to the Bears’ fourth place finish in the 20-team event behind champion Conestoga of Pennsylvania, runner-up Bullis and Good Counsel.
Matt Amitay (138) finished third for the defending IAC champion Bears, who, nevertheless, succumbed to an early-season show of strength by their rival Bulldogs.
“The last period and a half I wasn’t working my offense. I’m not quite in wrestling shape, so I was feeling really tired near the end,” said Machen. “I just felt like I could have done a lot more than I did, but I expect to see him a lot more this season and I definitely expect to get a lot better.”
Machen missed his freshman wrestling season after breaking an arm during an early tournament, but returned as a sophomore to finish second at IACs and sixth at the private schools state tournament before winning last year’s IAC’s and finishing fourth at states.
A football free safety and running back on the Bears’ past two 9-1 teams, Machen led the squad to an IAC title as a junior and a runner-up finished to Georgetown Prep this year. This past season, Machen rushed for 10 touchdowns and returned one of four interceptions for a touchdown.
Brown was coming off a stellar performance at the previous weekend’s Admiral Holloway Tournament at Saint James High in Hagerstown, where he pinned all four opponents in a combined one minute, 59 seconds for his crown.
Machen believes he could face Brown in a clash of former IAC champions as early as January 4-5, when their teams compete in the Battlin’ Barons’ Duals at Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
“Hopefully, Brown stays at my weight. I expect to see him a few more times this season,” said Machen, who is armed with a 3.9 grade average and will play football at Harvard. “I’m definitely looking forward to wrestling him again because I know I can win by more and expect a better result.”