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By Lem Satterfield
Junior and senior state runners-up Timothy Furgeson (182) and Elijah Baisden (220) enjoyed a special day on Dec. 28 as each improving his record to 21-0 before partisan Damascus fans and winning titles at the two-day 28th annual Swarmin’ Hornets’ Holiday Tournament.
Furgeson edged longtime rival Joe Murry of Lake Braddock, 3-1, having earned his 100th career victory a day earlier, and Baisden took 38 seconds to register his 19th pin of the year over Stone Summers of Virginia’s Mountain View High.
Baisden and Furgeson were the lone champions of the third-place Swarmin’ Hornets (108.5 points), who received runner-up efforts from sophomores Michael Emerick (126) and Nick Biava (132) to finish behind the first-place Glenelg Gladiators (144 points) of Howard County and Williamsport (110) of Washington County in the 13-team affair.
“[Glenelg] made a big statement,” said Swarmin’ Hornets’ coach John Furegeson, who received fourth-place finishes from juniors Andrew Creedon (160) and Aiden Beall (195) as his team lost its seven-year reign. “You win some and you lose some, but this is what it’s all about. We learned a lot about some of our kids, which is what we needed to see.”
Timothy Furgeson went 46-4 at 170 last year, being a state runner-up and repeat county champion and improving on his sophomore season’s regional runner-up finish with a crown in that event.
“I’ve wrestled Murry since I was about 8 years old. I won the first couple of matches; then he got me eighth-grade year. I lost to him in the first rounds at War on the Shore last year, but I pinned him for fifth place in that tournament,” said Furgeson.
“This is the first time I’ve seen him this year, and I felt like this was probably my best match of the year. But I’ll probably face him again at War on the Shore if he stays at 182. I don’t think we wrestled well as a team, but I believe our guys will improve on this showing.”
Baisden went 46-2 last year at 285 pounds, winning county and regional crowns and being a state runner-up to repeat champ Jordan Pryor from Dunbar of Baltimore. The son of assistant coach Clark Baisden, Elijah was a county and regional runner-up after coming in third at counties as a 182-pound freshman.
Baisden has wrestling scholarship offers from Division I George Mason University in Virginia as well as from Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia. He has been a two-way lineman on Swarmin’ Hornets’ past three football teams, including a pair of state titles during his sophomore and junior seasons.
“The weight cut [to 220 from 285 pounds] was easy, since I walk around at 225, and it’s the best you can ask for to have a dominant performance in the finals,” said Baisden, who stands at six-foot-one and placed fourth among juniors at 285 pounds in the National High School Coaches’ Association tournament in late-March.
“I was stuffing my face to stay at heavyweight, and if you go back and watch my opponents last year, I had a lot of close matches and couldn’t do much offensively. But with the weight cut, I’m more active, scoring a lot and scoring quickly. I’m a completely different wrestler.”
Poolesville (fifth place) crowned senior Alex Carbonell (120) and junior Colin Savage (152), who are coming off 37-1 and 33-5 seasons, with each being third at states a week after being third and second at regions, respectively.
Carbonell earned his third straight Damascus Tournament crown, 10-4, over Sean Coughlin of Virginia’s West Springfield. Coughlin trailed, 7-3, before being cradled from the neutral position to his back for 10-3 deficit midway through the final period.
“It was off a low single-leg,” said Carbonell, who was 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. “He did exactly what he should do from that position to counter. But sometimes, when a wrestler does that, his head dips to just the right spot and you can get [the cradle.] I love coming here. This is definitely a great tournament.”
By dominating South Carroll’s Steve Dahl, 10-1, Savage appears primed to improve on his sophomore season’s fourth-place county finish, following a freshman year during which he was third at counties, first at regions and fifth at states.
“Moving up from 138 last year, I feel pretty good and comfortable at this weight,” said Savage. “I lifted [weights] during the offseason, and I just feel stronger all the way around.”
Carbonell and Savage were joined on the victory podium by freshman teammate Kevin Fultz (138), who blanked Biava, 2-0, for his crown. Senior Sam Hull (145), a fifth-place regional finisher, was a runner-up for Poolesville.
“This is the first tournament I’ve won in high school, and it feels pretty good,” said Fultz. “Alex is a great practice partner, mentor and coach. He helps me with a lot of my moves, technique, and what to do when I wrestle this guy or that guy.”
Good Counsel junior Conor Lozupone (113) avenged an earlier loss, 4-0, with his semifinal victory over Cage Leddon of Locust Grove before winning his title bout, 6-1, against fourth-place state finisher Zaden Meyer of Williamsport.
“I was tied 2-2 with the kid I beat in the semifinals [Leddon] when pinned me in the second period. He barred me up, I turned the wrong way, and he stuck me,” said Lozupone, who was named Outstanding Wrestler in the December 1 Magruder Mad Mats Tournament.
“For the rematch, I rode him tough and didn’t give him a chance to turn me. Last year in this tournament, I lost in the first round and didn’t do good at all, so I knew I had to be prepared for anything. This has been a huge improvement for me and it feels great.”
The tournament was a measure of revenge for the Gladiators, who were also Class 2A state dual meet runners-up to the Swarmin’ Hornets last February. The Gladiators’ 49-16 loss represented the Swarmin’ Hornets’ second consecutive 25-0 dual meet season for their program’s unprecedented sixth straight state duals crown.
Gladiators’ senior Kevin Hansberger (126) won the championship round’s lone head-to-head battle. Hansberger’s two-point reversal and four total near-fall points overcame a third-period, 6-5 deficit for a 12-6 victory over Emerick, a previously unbeaten wrestler who was last year’s 106-pound state runner-up.
“That [reversal] was a funky situation where I was wrestling through,” said Hansberger, who was third at counties and regions and sixth at states at 120 pounds. “I’m normally better on top, but in that [bottom] position, I felt pretty confident. I decided go for it and was able to keep the momentum going in my direction.”
Coached by the alumnus and former state champion Bichner siblings, Dan (2008 graduate) and Matt (2006), the Gladiators also crowned senior state champion Jared Thomas (138), senior state runner-up Sam Alsheimer (195), Jacob Jones (160) and Drew Sotka (170).
Thomas edged fourth-place Virginia state finisher Elijah White of Mountain View, 5-4; Jones scored a 59-second fall over Williamsport’s Nate Anderson; and Sotka earned an 8-7 victory over Good Counsel’s Avery Miller.
“We’re a team that’s known for being able to go into deep waters in matches and win them,” said Thomas, whose third straight Damascus Tournament followed those over Swarmin’ Hornets’ state champion Johnny McLaughlin as a sophomore and junior.
“We had some rough matches early here, and we ended up wrestling the tournament with only seven guys, and they all placed. There always tough guys in the tournament, but we need to be able to win those hard ones.”
Alsheimer won, 11-5, over Good Counsel’s Drew Brenowitz, a transfer from Clarksburgh High where he was second at counties and regions and third in the Class 4A-3A state tournament.
“Williamsport is going to be tough to beat head-to-head, and there are other teams like Owings Mills [of Baltimore County.] Obviously, we’ll see a better Damascus team in a couple of weeks at War on the Shore,” said Matt Bichner of the Swarmin’ Hornets, who are after their eighth consecutive and 17th overall Montgomery County tournament championship.
“Miller beat Sotka 5-1 [during Friday’s qualifying matchups,] and Jones lost to Anderson, 8-7. So those kids avenged losses. Sam looked solid all day, and Kevin beating Emerick was awesome. So, we wrestled well, and I think we can get even better. This is a great start, but we want to be able to raise that dual meet title in February.”
Williamsport senior Tay Johnson (285) improved to 22-0 (15 pins) with an 11-5, title-winning victory over Good Counsel’s Brandon Roberts, having cut from 325 pounds.
A third-place state finisher who was runner-up to Baisden in last year’s Damascus Tournament, the 6-foot-4 Johnson is a second-year wrestler who has signed to play football at Clemson.