The Winters Mill High School wrestling team was favored to bring its second consecutive state crown back to
After all, the Falcons had rolled to a perfect 32-0 dual-match record, earned the county, region, and state dual titles, and sent eight wrestlers to the state title meet at the University of Maryland, College Park.
So it was no surprise that on the mats at Cole Field House, the Falcons left no doubt which team was the states' best in Class 2A/1A.
Only one Winters Mill wrestler won an individual state crown, but seven of the eight Falcon participants placed in the top six in their weight classes, and the defending champions cruised to a 23-point victory over runner-up Parkside.
"Balance is everything," said Falcon head coach John Lowe. "Dick Bauerlein, the longtime coach at North Carroll, said to me that he never saw a team place seven of eight wrestlers in the top six at the state tournament. ... I thought all eight guys had a shot, and they really stepped up during those two days."
Wes Cook helped to ease the pressure. The standout junior was the lone Falcon champion, concluding his 44-3 season with a 5-4 decision over
"Wes was the consummate professional all year," Lowe said. "He was very goal-driven last weekend, and not to be denied."
Cook's teammates helped keep the Falcons at the top of the team standings from start to finish. Senior Brandon Burndley finished second after losing to Wicomico's Raheem Ramsey in the 220-pound championship bout.
Three other Winters Mill wrestlers took fourth place. Juniors Flavio Valdez-Cortez (106 pounds) and Taylor Logue (113), and sophomore Marshall Chang (160), added valuable team points with their high placements. Gunnar Cullison capped his career with a sixth-place finish at 132.
It was a tough ending for Cody Sharkey, a junior who was Carroll's only undefeated wrestler heading into the state tournament.
Sharkey, who came into the tournament with a 42-0 record, won his first two matches by major decision but was forced to default midway through his 145-pound semifinal due to an injured left knee. Despite his injury, he still took sixth place.
"Cody's knee locked up on him, and there was something that prevented him from straightening his leg," Lowe said. "He just couldn't continue. It wasn't an easy decision, but he made the right one."
Two other Carroll schools finished among the top eight teams.
Century achieved the best finish in the school's 10-year history, with a fifth-place team score.
South Carroll, sparked by 170-pound state champion Willie Reiter, was three spots behind the Knights in eighth place.
In its third season under head coach Dennis Frazier, Century placed four wrestlers in the state semifinals. Senior Brandon Antrobus, who finished with a 41-4 record, placed third at 220 pounds.
The Knights received fourth-place efforts from seniors Kyle Tye (138 pounds) and Logan Ryder (145) and junior Sean Donaghue (120).
Reiter led the way for South Carroll, winning his first state championship in the 170-pound classification.
The Cavalier senior, who put together a 44-1 record, concluded his high school career with an 8-2 victory over
Three more South Carroll wrestlers finished in the top six. Senior Steven Schmitz, who posted a 40-5 mark, got to the 182-pound final before losing to Middletown's Judd Ziegler. In the 160-pound class, sophomore Jake Pooton finished fifth, while Alec Stavish placed sixth at 152.
Two other Carroll teams scored significant points in the Class 2A/1A competition.
Liberty High placed 16th in the team standings. Junior Casey Shea concluded a 44-4 campaign with a third-place finish at 132 pounds. Lion senior Luke Yox also finished third in the 145-pound class, while Tony Craig took sixth at 170 pounds.
North Carroll, paced by senior Keegan Farley's third-place finish at 195 pounds and a fifth place for sophomore Eddie Merrill at 170, tied for 17th in the team standings with Queen Anne's and Williamsport.
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