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WALDORF – When Damascus High School’s wrestling team finished third in its own 13-team Christmas Tournament behind Glenelg of Howard County and runner-up Williamsport of Washington County in December, junior Silas Patton missed the event due to not having yet qualified, weight-wise, for his 106-pound division.
But Patton earned some redemption against the Gladiators (16-1) on Feb. 9 at North Point High in Waldorf of Charles County — his second-period pin keying a 45-16, Class 2A state dual-meet championship victory, the 178th consecutive win for the Swarmin’ Hornets (26-0), and their unprecedented seventh straight state duals crown following a back-to-back 25-0 seasons under coach John Ferguson.
Patton staked the Swarmin’ Hornets to a lead of 33-16, with three bouts remaining; sophomore Joe McKneely (113) followed with a pin while freshmen Colton DeValle (120) and Michael Emerick (126) won consecutive decisions to close out the victory.
“When I got up and looked at our fans and my teammates after getting the pin, I felt like a real champion, and it was just the greatest feeling in the world,” said Patton, whose squad will pursue its eighth consecutive and 16th overall county tournament championship on Feb. 16-17.
“After our holiday tournament, we were starting to hear that this was the year we were going to go down, but we knew we were going to be getting better and to be more mentally prepared for the state dual-meet tournament, and tonight, we proved that was the case,” Patton added.
Among the biggest victories were those from sophomore Nick Biava (132) in the evening’s initial bout, a 3-2 decision over Gladiators’ senior Kevin Hansberger, an earlier 12-6 winner against Emerick who placed third at counties and regions and sixth at states last year at 120 pounds.
“When I came off the mat, Mike told me he was glad I was able to avenge him, but keeping the streak going was my main motivation,” said Biava of Hansberger. “They bumped him up from 126 thinking he would beat me for the third time, but when I beat him in the first match, it boosted everybody’s spirits and got them pumped up for the rest of the night.”
A regional champion who is among seven starters from last year’s Swarmin’ Hornets, Emerick was a state runner-up a year ago, as were junior Tim Furgeson (182) and senior Elijah Baisden (220). Furgeson won by majority decision, and Baisden, by a 35-second fall against the Gladiators — winners of only four of 14 bouts against the Swarmin’ Hornets.
Sophomore Brodie Douglas (145) and junior Isaiah Bell (152) won by decision and technical fall for the Damascus, whose intensity was sustained during one-point losses by juniors Andrew Creedon (160) and Aiden Beall (195).
Creedon lost 6-5 to Glenelg senior Jacob Jones, a fifth-place state finisher and county and regional champion who had pinned Creedon in 48 seconds earlier this season. A third-place county and regional finisher, Beall lost 3-2 to the Gladiators’ senior state runner-up Sam Alsheimer.
The Swarmin’ Hornets advanced to Class 2A Final Four by winning the Class 2A West Region duals on Feb. 6, vanquishing Winters Mill (35-30) and Williamsport (42-39). They reached the title match with Feb. 9th 42-32 semi-final victory over Owings Mills (13-2) of Baltimore County — featuring pins by Emerick, Credon, Furgeson, Beall, Baisden and Harris, and decisions by Biava and Douglas.
“I got over a big hump today and it was exhilarating. It’s one of the best feelings of my life being only in my second year of ever wrestling,” said Harris, whose pin secured the victory over Owings Mills, 42-14, allowing the Swarmin’ Hornets to forfeit the final three bouts.
“All we heard this year is that someone is going to be the team that beats Damascus, but the team backs me up, I back them up, and we stick together as a family and pull through adversity. That’s what we’ve been doing this entire year to remain at the top for seven years in a row. That’s just insane.”
The Swarmin Hornets had twice finished behind the Gladiators in earlier tournaments. The Gladiators were third at January’s War on the Shore Tournament at Stephen Decatur High in Berlin, Maryland, where the Swarmin’ Hornets were fifth behind the fourth-place host school.
But in addition to a 39-24 victory over county rival Springbrook (25-1) — winner of Feb. 9th Class 4A state title, 36-18, over South River of Anne Arundel County — the Swarmin’ Hornets also owned a 48-17 victory over Stephen Decatur, winner of Saturday’s Class 3A state dual-meet championship, 28-27, over Linganore of Frederick County.
“I see us as the state champion for the entire state of Maryland, because we’ve beaten Springbrook and Stephen Decatur,” said Tim Furgeson, a junior returning county and regional champion.
The margin of victory over Glenelg was similar to last year’s over the Gladiators, who lost, 49-16 in the Class 2A dual-meet championship finals of 2018. Last year’s Damascus’ squad also beat then-Class 4A state dual champion Urbana of Frederick County, 40-18, and Class 3A title winner Huntingtown, 54-7.
For the second straight year, 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 2017 to no longer keep team scores when crowning individual champions.
Although no official team scores were tabulated at states in 2018, 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.
This year’s Swarmin’’ Hornets have established a single-season school-record for dual-meet victories under Furgeson, Damascus’s coach since 2008.
“We’ve continued to put together the game plans for this match and every other match, and the kids have continued to buy into it,” said Furgeson. “Everything we served them this year, they soaked it up and did whatever we asked them to do.”
In other wrestling action: Good Counsel (sixth), Landon (eighth), Bullis (ninth) and Georgetown Prep (11th) finished behind champion Wyoming Seminary (289.5 points) of Pennsylvania in the 22-team Feb. 8-9 Melee on the Metro at Wilson High in Washington, D.C.,
For Good Counsel, junior Conor Lozupone (113) was second, senior and junior Drew Brenowitz (195) and Brandon Roberts (285) were third, junior Peter Slear (160) was fourth, sophomore Heidi Mae Richardson (120) and senior Avery Miller (170) both fifth, and sophomore Conner Ott (152), sixth.
Finishing second for Landon at the Melee on the Metro were Interstate Athletic Conference Champions seniors Axel Giron (126), Jonny Gherman (160) and Jelani Machen (170) and junior Lorenzo Lopez (132) junior IAC runner-up Matt Amitay (138) was fifth for Landon, and senior Miles Tonkel (220), fourth.
A week after dethroning Landon as IAC champion at St. Stephens & St Agnes High in Alexandria, Virginia, Bullis placed freshmen IAC champions Talion Elliott (third) and Ethan Rathmell (seventh), both at 106; junior Austin Brown (182) second, junior Caleb Tomlin (220) third, sophomore Canaan Tomlin, (152) fifth, junior Isaac Ruderman (138), seventh, and senior Bazin Sineshaw (126) and sophomore Terrell Jackson (285), both eighth.
Georgetown Prep crowned sophomore IAC champion Kyonte Hamilton (220), with senior third-place IAC finisher Grant Maynard (195) being fifth, and senior Ryan Yousefi (182), seventh.