GAITHERSBURG — As the lone senior on a Damascus High School wrestling squad whose wrestling dynasty many predicted would end this season, Elijah Baisden knew only one way to take the critics’ perception: personally.
Baisden’s intensity was evident during the Feb. 15-16 county tournament at Gaithersburg High School, where the 220-pounder blanked Paint Branch senior Wafeu Fuondjing, 8-0, improved his season mark to 42-1 as the Swarmin’ Hornets (197 points) overcame runner-up Springbrook (171.5) for their eighth consecutive and 16th overall county championship.
Baisden was third at counties and fifth at regions as a 182-pound freshman, third and second as a 195-pound sophomore, and first in both last season – achievements contributing to his being named the recipient of the prestigious Richard J. Monisera Award for the senior who has scored the most points for his school in the county tournament.
Baisden was joined by fellow state runner-up Tim Furgeson (182), who won his third straight crown as well by a 13-4 major decision over Marquez Cooper (30-5) of Quince Orchard. A state runner-up last year after being second and first at regions as a freshman and sophomore, Furgeson improved his record for the year to 38-0.
Baisden and Furgeson were the lone champions of the Swarmin’ Hornets (26-0), who were a week removed from defeating Howard County’s Glenelg for the Class 2A state dual-meet championship – their 178th consecutive win and their seventh straight state duals crown, following a back-to-back 25-0 seasons under coach John Ferguson.
“Everything going on with this team, as the only senior, I’ve taken super personal,” said Baisden, a Class 2A-1A state runner-up last year. “Everyone’s doubted us, but I’ve been telling you all season this is not the team that’s going to lose the streak.”
Finishing as runners-up were juniors Silas Patton (106), Andrew Creedon (160) and Aiden Beall (195), as well as sophomore Michael Emerick (126); with junior Isaiah Bell (152) being fourth; Sam O’Brian (170) fifth; and sophomore Joe McKneely (113) ending in sixth.
A week removed from winning the Class 4A state duals crown, Springbrook (25-1) crowned seniors Sahid Antar (170) and Aimrick Nya (285). A third-place finisher at counties last season, Nya used a pair of pins to reach the finals, where he overcame Clarksburg senior Austin Smith, 8-3, to improve to 34-3.
Antar used three, double-leg takedowns to defeat Creedon, 7-4, improving his mark to 33-2 following a first-round pin, a quarterfinal major decision and a 6-2 victory in his semifinal match.
“Everybody’s always saying, ‘Watch for his double’ for my matches,” said Antar, who was third at counties, second at regions and fifth at states last year. “But I’m confident that as long as I believe in it, no one can stop me.”
Sherwood senior Chris Sanchez (145) won his second straight county title,, improving to 29-0 on a pair of pins, a major decision and a title bout forfeit yielded by injured sophomore Drew Guttentag of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High. A regional champion and Class 4A state runner-up, Sanchez went 24-1 last year.
For Poolesville, senior Alex Carbonell (120) improved to 41-2 with his second straight county title, and juniors Colin Savage (152) and Xavier Kresslein (170), to 41-1 and 36-2 with their crowns.
Carbonell pinned his first two opponents, blanked Kilby, 6-0, in their semifinal, and handled Magruder senior Wafeeq Iqbal, 14-3, in their championship match.
A county runner-up as well as when he was a sophomore, also a regional runner-up and sixth-place finisher at states, Carbonell appears to be primed for an improvement on last year’s third-place finish at state – a season he ended with a mark of 37-1.
“I’m happy with my performance,” said Carbonell of Iqbal (34-2), a third-place county and regional finisher who won 35 matches last year. “I wanted to win impressively, putting my stamp on this as a way of saying I could dominate a tournament, and I think I did that.”
Savage pinned all four of Saturday’s opponents, including Bell in 72 seconds, third-place finishing sophomore Nicholas McCarthy of Richard Montgomery High in 3:21, and runner-up Jeo Martinez of Bethesda-Chevy Chase in 1:22 of their title bout.
“This is the best I’ve wrestled at counties,” said Savage, whose first-round fall lasted 82 seconds. “I have to win regions and states. That’s all that’s left for me to do.”
Kresslein pinned his quarterfinal opponent, edged Northwest’s third-place finishing junior Yoann Olympio, 3-1, in their semifinal, and won his title bout, 5-2, over Higazi, a regional champion who was third at counties last season.
A 4-2 loser in last year’s finals to Furgeson, Kresslein looks to improve on last season’s third-place regional placement.
Northwest crowned junior Siavash Sarvestani (126), whose 5-3 championship victory over Emerick was his second of the year over the regional champion and state runner-up. Sarvestani was a county and regional runner-up, who was fifth at states with a record of 43-6 last season. He’s 35-2 at this point.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase senior Eli Guttentag (132) won three bouts by a combined 40-4, including a 16-0 first-round technical fall, a 12-1 major decision in his quarterfinal and a 6-3 semifinal victory over Sieh.
Guttentag earned his crown, 6-0, over Christenson (32-4), a returning fifth- and third-place county and regional finisher whom he had blanked, 8-0, in an earlier dual meet.
Joining the Guttentag siblings were juniors Christian Simpson (113) and Jeo Marrinez (152), both second, and junior Aiden Moffit (126), fourth. Absent from the tournament was freshman Isaac “Ike” Guttentag (106), who suffered an injury a few days prior.
Guttentag improved to 38-3, having earned county and regional titles as a ninth-grader, and placed third at states as a freshman and junior.
Paint Branch senior Austin Smith (195) won his title bout, 3-2, over Beall, a third-place county and regional finisher as a sophomore. The son of 26-year coach Rick Smith, Austin had a 39-5 record as a junior — comprised of being third at counties, second at regions and fourth at states – but he is currently at 37-0 with 32 pins and four technical falls.
Walter Johnson High School senior Jacob Bernstein (138) used a pin and a technical fall to reach his championship bout with Quince Orchard senior Jose Echeona (34-6), where his 11-2 major decision improved his mark on the year to 16-0.
“I wrestled Echeona three times last year and beat him, but those matches were a lot closer,” said Bernstein. “This shows I’m doing the right things to get ready for a scrap, no matter who it is.”
Wootton crowned sophomore Liau twins Eric (106) and Jason (113), who improved to 34-0, and, 32-1, respectively. Eric earned a 5-3 decision over Patton (26-4), and Jason, a 16-9 victory Simpson (26-5).
Richard Montgomery senior Laura Chang (106) was sixth and believed to have become the initial female placewinner since March 2006 when Magruder junior Helen Maroulis became the first girl to reach the finals of both the county and Class 4A-3A East Regional tournaments.