By Lem Satterfield @satterfield_lem
Freshman Jabari Lawson’s first-period pin at 113 pounds followed a decision by 126-pound senior teammate Sidiki Keita, lifting Paint Branch to a come-from-behind, 37-36 victory over Lackey in Saturday’s championship bout of the Chopticon Duals at Chopticon High in St. Mary’s County. The Panthers went 8-0 in the tournament, with seniors Tyler Przygocki (152), Kyle Isolato (182), Austin Smith (195) and Wafeu Fuondjing (285) all going undefeated, and Keita and junior Carlos Guardado-Eagle (138) winning seven of eight bouts on the weekend.
“The biggest match of the tournament was against Lackey. We were up early and behind late,” said Paint Branch coach Rick Smith in his 26th year, whose Panthers trailed, 36-28, entering the final two bouts.
“Down by eight with two matches to go, Sidiki Keita won by decision and got it within five. In the final match, freshman Jabari Lawson got a first-period pin to seal the deal.”
Austin Smith, the coach’s son, was third at counties, second at regions and fourth at states last year, with Fuondjing (285) being fourth at both counties and regions.
Springbrook dominated the field at Saturday’s Aberdeen Duals, including county rival Blair by 53-9, and Harford County’s Bel Air, 34-33.
“The Bel Air match was great. Very close all the way throughout and lots of matches that could’ve gone either way,” said coach Rob Whittles, whose 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.
“Bonus points made a big difference too as we split matches 7-7. Bel Air is tough as they have 12 starters back from last year’s region dual champion team, and 11 of their starters are seniors. That match should help prepare us for big county duals this season. Everyone on the team finished with a winning record this weekend.”
Finishing at 8-0 were juniors Sayfore Sieh (132) and Anthony Gomez (170) and senior Aimrick Nya (285), with freshman Grayson Wendel (113), junior Edwin Peralta (152) and senior Jean Mehul (145) all being 7-1.
Going 6-2 were sophomore Matt Kilby (120), juniors Pierre Jean (106) and Matt Bauer (220), and seniors Dassaeve Jean (138) and Nico Cancino (160), with junior Chinua Sabater (126) being 5-3.
“We got big contributions from Edwin Peralta, Anthony Gomez, Matt Kilby, and Chinua Sabater,” said Whittles.
“They all were JV county champs last season and did a great job stepping up to varsity competition this weekend. Matt Bauer was another JV kid last year who has made huge strides and had a great weekend.”
Sieh was fifth at counties and third in the region at 120, Pierre Jean, third at regions at 106, and Nya, third at counties. Dassaeve Jean and Mehul qualified for regions at 132 and 138 pounds.
“The rest of our varsity returners did what we expect them to do as leaders and went out there wrestling hard and trying to score points all weekend. It was also nice to see freshman Grayson Wendel in the line-up for the first time,” said Whittles, whose Blue Devils visit the Panthers for a dual meet on Wednesday.
“[Grayson’s] win over a senior region qualifier from Bel Air sealed that dual meet victory. It was a fun weekend, but we still have a lot of work to do, and I hope we can keep working hard to get ready for our big match against Paint Branch on Wednesday night.”
For the Blazers, sophomore Brian McCaw (106) went 8-0, Joe Paulino (220) was 7-1, Muhammad Baig (113), Biruk Tona (132), Junior Kim (138), Ernest Son (170) and Elias Chen (195) went 6-2, and Brandon Ntankeu (182), 5-2.
McCaw was fifth at counties and fourth at regions last year after winning 35 matches, Tona had 17 wins, and Son, 14. Baig split time on varsity at 106 for two seasons, placing fourth at JV counties last season.