Senior Jeo Martinez of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School is no stranger to wrestling with the odds stacked against him, having last season been a county and regional runner-up and fourth-place state finisher despite competing as an undersized 152-pounder.
“I was weighing in at 140 pounds and wrestling at 152,” said Martinez, whose last two placements were in the Class 4A-3A West Region and Class 4A-3A state tournaments. “I was second in the county and in the region, but what happened last year only gave me the confidence for this year.”
Martinez continued to overcome adversity in his home gymnasium at the Jan. 3-4 Battlin’ Barons’ duals, leading the host school to the overall crown by going 8-0 with two each in pins, technical falls and major decisions at 145 and 152 pounds.
“I was wrestling with the flu and went undefeated, but, still, I wasn’t pinning guys enough, so I could have done better,” said Martinez, whose Baron improved to 17-2 overall. “It’s good enough that I tech-ed them, but it’s like taking second place. Taking second place was good enough last year, but I didn’t want that, and that’s how I was for this past weekend. We don’t just want to be just good enough.”
Guttentag siblings, Drew (152) and Ike (126) were 8-0 and 7-1, respectively, as the Barons out-lasted a stacked but short-handed Bullis squad, 37-34, in the title match. Drew earned four pins and a major decision, and Ike, five pins, a technical fall, and a major decision.
A year ago, the Barons earned the crown behind then-senior Eli Guttentag, an eventual 132-pound Class 4A-3A state runner-up whose victories in the event included a 3-2 decision over private schools state champion Lorenzo Lopez of Landon.
The success of the Barons (3-0 against the county) has placed them at the forefront as the county’s team to beat, given a pair of losses by a few of the league’s strongest teams as both Damascus and Springbrook fell in their meet appearances on Dec. 14.
The “Swarmin’ Hornets” lost twice in one day at The Warriors Duals at LaPlata High School in Charles County, ending Maryland’s longest-ever winning streak and the third-longest all-time at 182. They went 26-0 last year to win their seventh straight state duals crown following two consecutive 25-0 seasons and were 4-0 before losing, 40-33, to Virginia Power Great Bridge High School, 37-30 and to South River of Anne Arundel County.
On the same day, the Barons ended the Blue Devils’ 19-match winning streak, 41-11. Springbrook went 25-1 a year ago, with the only loss coming against Damascus.
“I knew coming back this year that we were gonna have a solid corps because everyone worked out in the offseason and we have a lot of returning starters, but with our upperweights, I wasn’t sure how we would do since Springbrook and other schools are very deep,” said Drew Guttentag.
“But our new guys have really solidified our lineup, and that’s really got us excited. I feel like we still have something to prove because people believe Springbrook and Bullis didn’t have everyone in their lineups. I do believe that, with Springbrook, once they are able to get everyone, it’s going to be a tight match-up between our teams. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Freshman Meyer Shapiro (126) improved to 27-3 for a Bulldogs squad, which yielded three forfeits. Shapiro won all of his seven bouts, including a 24-10 major decision Class 4A-3A state runner-up Siavash Sarvestani of Northwest High School.
The Bulldogs’ Gene Quodala (145) pinned all six of his opponents to improve to 16-4, Austin Brown (182) was 8-0 with five pins to improve to 17-5, and freshman Enzo Bell (106) moved to 20-1, leading the tournament with the most pins (eight) in the least amount of time.
Also, Bullis’ NaSir Wilkinson (120) rose to 19-5 after going 8-0 with seven pins and defeating Ike Guttentag. The Bulldogs’ DJ McGee (138) rose to 16-0 after pinning in five of his eight victories.
The event’s Outstanding Wrestler was Landon’s Lorenzo Lopez (132), a three-time Interscholastic Athletic Association champion and former private schools state champion whose signature win was a 7-2 decision over Sarvestani.
In other news, Montgomery Blair High School continues to hover among the county’s top teams as well after going 9-0 to win the Jan. 3-4 Rumble Duals at Rockville High School.
The Blazers crowned junior Brian McCaw (113), senior Elias Chen (195) and Mervin Mancia (220) at Rockville, where runner-up Churchill’s titlist was Ethan Nasvaderani (106).
The host Rams had champions in Nate Eig (132) and Conner Pace (182), as did Wootton in the county champion Liau twins, Jason (120) and state champion Eric (126), and Gaithersburg in Jaedyn Harris (170) and Edwin Galo (285).