UPPER MARLBORO — Churchill’s Jack Connolly believed himself destined to win the Class 4A-3A state championship on Monday, and the 138-pound senior did so in dramatic fashion, avenging a pair of setbacks in his final two of four bouts at the Show Place Arena.
Coming off runner-up and third-place finishes over consecutive weekends at the county and regional tournaments, Connolly won his first-round bout by 11-3 major decision over Perry Hall senior Chase Andrews, scored consecutive quarterfinal and semifinal pins in 4:52 and 57 seconds over seniors Jacob Blyukher of Centennial and Nick Gonzalez (32-5) of Clarksburg, and avenged a pair of one-point losses with his come-from-behind, 6-4 overtime championship victory over previously unbeaten junior Chris Sanchez (24-1) of Sherwood.
Andrews was a Baltimore County runner-up who lost the previous Saturday’s Class 4A-3A North Regional championship bout 9-0 to Sanchez, and Blyukher’s teammate is junior Jason Kraisser (39-0), who won his third straight state title on Monday.
Connolly is 1-1 this year against Gonzalez, having lost his regional semifinal 6-2 after being tied at 2-2 late in the third period, and 1-2 against Sanchez, falling 5-4 in a dual meet on a reversal with six seconds left, and 3-2 on a takedown with seven seconds remaining in their county title match.
“I just grew sick of losing, so I gave it every bit of my effort, and it paid off,” said Connolly, who was second at counties and regions and fourth at states as a sophomore, and first at counties, third at regions and fifth at states last year. “I felt like I was being slightly overlooked this whole season. So, all season long, I wanted to prove people wrong, and I think that after states, I finally did.”