Damascus wrestlers McLaughlin, Lawrence earn first, second state crowns

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Damascus’ Ryan Lawrence defeated Sparrows Point’s Skyler Minutelli in the 145lb Class 2A/1A final match in the State Wrestling Championships. PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITH Damascus’ Ryan Lawrence defeated Sparrows Point’s Skyler Minutelli in the 145lb Class 2A/1A final match in the State Wrestling Championships. PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITH  UPPER MARLBORO — Junior Johnny McLaughlin and senior Ryan Lawrence of Damascus had diverging perspectives after winning respective 126- and 145-pound Class 2A-1A state titles in Monday’s season-ending tournament at The Show Place Arena.

McLaughlin (41-6), a two-time county champion, already is gearing up for next season after handling previously unbeaten junior regional champion Ryan Wagener (42-1) of Baltimore County’s Eastern Tech 7-2 for his initial championship after twice being a third-place finisher at states.

A county runner-up as a sophomore, McLaughlin was eight days removed from a 7-5 victory over the previous year’s state title-winner Travis Crawford of South Carroll for his third straight regional crown.

“‘Don’t get third again’ – that’s all I repeated to myself coming into this,” said McLaughlin. “So this feels really good after my freshman and sophomore seasons, and I wanna do the same thing again next year.”

But Lawrence (48-0) proclaimed himself “done with this sport forever” after rolling through his first round and quarterfinal opponents on pins in 37 seconds, 1:34, blanking his semifinal rival 7-0 and hammering senior regional champion Skyler Minutelli (42-4) of  Sparrows Point 11-3 for his second straight title after having placed third as a sophomore.


Damascus crowns seven champions, dominates for 16th county grappling title

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Undefeated Ryan Lawrence of Damascus earns the 8-6 win in the 145lb championship over Ryan Holland of Blair. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKUndefeated Ryan Lawrence of Damascus earns the 8-6 win in the 145lb championship over Ryan Holland of Blair. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  State champion Ryan Lawrence pinned twice in the first period to reach last Saturday’s 145-pound county title bout, where the Damascus senior overcame Blair’s all-time winning wrestler Ryan Holland, 8-6, for his third straight crown to lead the Swarmin’ Hornets to their seventh consecutive and 16th overall Montgomery County tournament championship at Gaithersburg.

A two-time county and regional champion who was third at states as a sophomore, Lawrence (41-0) was among seven titlists, nine wrestlers who finished within the top three of their weight classes and 10 who were within the top six for the Swarmin’ Hornets (238.5 points), who overwhelmed runner-up Churchill (148.5 points) and the rest of the 25-team field.

Winning counties for the second time were Swarmin’ Hornets’ seniors John Allan Furgeson (152), Ben Lokos (170) and state champion Paul Purkey (195), junior Johnny McLaughlin (126), and sophomore Timothy Furgeson (160), with junior Elijah Baisden (285) capturing his first.

Senior Dyllan Ramirez (132) and sophomore Aiden Beall (220) placed third, and senior Josh Creegan (138), sixth, the latter in the event’s most difficult weight class after having finished third at counties, fourth at regions and sixth at states as a junior.

Other repeat champions were seniors Yonas Harris (106) of Northwest, C.J. Cramma (120) of Magruder, Gabe McAndrew (182) of Bethesda-Chevy Chase, and John-Luke Iglesias (220) of Whitman, with junior Alex Carbonell (113) of Poolesville, senior Bryan Huynh (132) of Blair, and junior Chris Sanchez (138) earning their first crowns.


Damascus handles Glenelg for second straight year, earns sixth straight duals crown

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Damascus Swarmin HornetsGlenelg came up empty for matching its trio of Howard County champions against their Damascus counterparts during Saturday’s Class 2A state duals at North Point High in Charles County, a factor critical to a definitive 49-16 victory for the Swarmin’ Hornets.

Senior John Allan Furgeson (160), sophomore Tim Furgeson (170) and senior Ben Lokos (182), all county champions, ground out tough decisions over state runner-up Max Sotka, Jacob Jones and fourth-place state finisher Sam Alsheimer as the Swarmin’ Hornets completed their second consecutive 25-0 dual meet season with their 152nd win in a row and their program’s unprecedented sixth straight state duals championship.

“We definitely knew the strength in their lineup was right there,” said Lokos, who missed all of last year due to a knee injury but won a county championship as a sophomore before finishing third at regions and states.

“It was really great seeing John Allan win. Then, to see Timmy beat his guy really pumped me up. After I won, we knew it was over and they were demoralized. That was the nail was in the coffin, so to speak.”


Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets sting fast, finish strong, eye sixth straight state duals crown

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Damascus Swarmin HornetsThe Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets varsity wrestling team made quick work of visiting Carroll County’s Winters Mill and Frederick County’s Middletown during Thursday’s Class 2A West regional championships, setting the stage for its 23rd consecutive win and 150th in a row in pursuit of its unprecedented sixth straight state dual meet crown.

Seven of the Swarmin’ Hornets (23-0) registered at least one pin in under a minute over the course of dominating the Falcons (11-4) in the semifinal 66-12, and the Knights (14-2) for the title 47-16.

County and regional champion senior Ben Lokos (182) did so in 10 and 24 seconds, state champion senior Ryan Lawrence (145) did it in 12 and 62 seconds, and state champion senior Paul Purkey (195), in 16 and 38 seconds.


Landon wins IACs, Damascus eyes another state duals crown

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Wrestling clip artLandon crowned Axel Giron (120), Lorenzo Lopez (126), Patrick Kielb (132), Jonny Gherman (152), Brendon Gallagher (160), Jelani Machen (170) and Carter Johnson (182), with Luc Schermer (138) and Terrance Bridgers (285) finishing second as the Bears won their first Interstate Athletic Conference tournament crown in the 23-year coaching history of Andy Katz.

Finishing third were Patrick Townsend (113) and Joel Desroches (220), and Nick Haller (195), fourth as the Bears placed 12 of 13 wrestlers within the top four of their weight classes for the program’s first outright title since 1994, adding the tournament to their regular-season dual meet championship earned with a school-record mark of 16-5 overall and 6-0 in the IAC.

The Bears (195.5 points) overcame runner-up St. Albans (127) to dethrone third place 13-time IAC champion Georgetown Prep (122), their dual meet victory total being the highest since the 15-win season of 2005 to 2006, the last time the Bears won a piece of the crown.

“For the first time this season, we were able to present our strongest line-up,” said Katz. “Everyone made weight and our injured wrestlers were cleared to go for the championship. It was an amazing day. This was a team effort across the board.”


Still undefeated, Churchill’s Tranquill pins Damascus’ Lokos

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Churchill's Fio Tranquill gets the fall against Damascus’ Ben Lokos to remain unbeaten this season in the 182-pound weight class. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKChurchill's Fio Tranquill gets the fall against Damascus’ Ben Lokos to remain unbeaten this season in the 182-pound weight class.   PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  POTOMAC — As a freshman three years ago, Fio Tranquill’s football season at Churchill was cut short and a wrestling tryout negated by a severe bout with Lyme disease.

Now a senior third-year wrestler for the Churchill Bulldogs, Tranquill’s having the time of his life, improving to a mark of 28-0 with a pair of pins during Saturday’s 47-15 tri-meet loss to the visiting 15-time county champion Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets and a 56-22 victory over Quince Orchard, loser by 72-9 to Damascus.

Tranquill scored an upset fall in 5:24 over 182-pound Swarmin’ Hornets’ senior Ben Lokos, who missed all of last year due to an injury but as a sophomore was county champ before finishing third at regions and states.

Lokos led 2-0 early in a wild match that featured five lead changes before Tranquill reversed the Damascus grappler to his back for the pin, overcoming a 7-6 deficit. Tranquill led only 7-5 before pinning the Cougars’ Ryan Jones in 4:24.

“I wasn’t sure I would win, but in the end, I heard my coaches screaming to head-hunt. I saw his head, grabbed it, pulled him over and that was it,” said Tranquill, who was third at counties and regions last year.


Damascus state champ Purkey back to pinning ways, continues Hornets’ win streak

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20180128 Churchill vs Damascus Wrestle 19Paul Purkey of Damascus takes on Churchill's Andrew Welch. Purkey would take the win in the 195-pound weight class.  PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK   POTOMAC — State champion Paul Purkey of Damascus embraced last month’s challenge against three-time state champion Aaron Brooks of North Hagerstown, even though he was pinned in their 195-pound bout.

“I was excited to wrestle Brooks,” said Purkey, a University of Maryland-bound county and regional champion last year at 182 pounds who earned a private schools state title as a Good Counsel sophomore.

“I was telling the coaches that if he didn’t bump up, I’d have wanted an exhibition. I wanted the competition. It can only help me to get better. It keeps me humble and motivated to know that there can also be someone better.”

Purkey returned to his pinning ways during Saturday’s tri-meet victories over host Churchill, 47-15, and Quince Orchard, 72-9, helping the 15-time county champion Swarmin’ Hornets (19-0) to run their dual meet winning streak to 146 consecutive matches.


Blair Blazers take down Sherwood Warriors in critical MoCo dual

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SANDY SPRING — Senior Bryan Huynh endured cramping in his lower right leg and scored an overtime takedown on mat’s edge for a pivotal 6-4 decision against junior Paul Christianson during a 33-32 dual meet victory for the visiting Blair Blazers at Sherwood on Jan. 24.

The Blazers also won the evening’s final two bouts on a fall by Matt Morris (195) and a forfeit to senior Rudy Ngougni (220), erasing a 32-21 deficit and rising to 25-4 overall (11-0 in non-tournament dual meets) under second-year coach Tim Grover.

“I was ahead 2-0 in the first period after the takedown, and it just hit me really hard. I wasn’t sure, at that point, if I’d be able to wrestle well enough to win,” said Huynh, a junior varsity county champion last season.

“I usually shoot a lot more but I wasn’t as confident, thinking my leg would cramp up on me if I took another shot. I had to look for opportunities that were less stressful. I felt a cramp coming on as I took that final shot, but I just pushed through. He had a whizzer in, but I got points for it, and I’m happy I won.”


Lawrence three-peats at War On The Shore with trio of first-period pins, decision

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At the War On The Shore Tournament at Stephen Decatur High in Berlin in Worcester County on Jan. 12 and 13, Damascus’ state champion Ryan Lawrence (145) won his semifinal 3-1, over Virginia’s sixth-place state finisher Elijah Williams of Nansemond River High, then secured his third-straight crown by head-locking two-time Delaware state runner-up Kyle McDonough of Sanford High for a 64-second fall.

A two-time county and regional champion who managed a third-place finish at states as a sophomore, Lawrence (28-0) led the Swarmin’ Hornets (224.5 points) to a runner-up finish behind Baltimore area power Mount St. Joseph (269) on the strength of three falls in a combined 2 minutes, 52 seconds.

State champion Paul Purkey (195) and two-time third-place state finisher Johnny McLaughlin (126) were runners-up for the second straight season, and John Allan Furgeson (152) was third after being fourth a year ago among seven Swarmin’ Hornets finishing within the top four of their weight classes and 11 within the top eight.

The Swarmin’ Hornets’ Elijah Baisden (285) was third, Josh Creegan (138) and Ben Lokos (170), fourth, Timothy Furgeson (160), fifth, Aiden Bell (220), sixth, and Michael Emerick (106) and Dyllan Ramirez (132), seventh and eighth.

“Ryan did a fantastic job in the finals as he has each year in this tournament,” said coach John Furgeson, whose Swarmin’ Hornets (15-0) have won six straight state tournaments, five consecutive state dual meet titles, 15 county tournaments and 142 straight matches. “It was a tough tournament, that’s why we go there and how we’re going to get better. We learned a lot about our young kids and what we need to work on.”


Sophomore’s first varsity start ignites Damascus over Springbrook, 67-0

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Damascus Swarmin HornetsOn Jan. 15, 145-lb. Damascus junior varsity wrestler Isaiah Bell got word that he would get his first varsity start the next day against Springbrook, but the sophomore didn’t learn that his match would be the night's first until an hour before the two teams took to the mat.

“Coach told me yesterday at practice I’d be wrestling, then I found out during weigh-ins I was the first match,” said Bell, a rangy 6-footer with an unbeaten JV record. “I was kind of nervous, but I knew I had to stay focused and set the tone if I wanted to get my first ‘W’ on varsity.”

But despite his nerves, Bell did just that by building a 9-3 lead early in the third period, leading to an 11-8 decision over Nico Cancino and sparking the Swarmin’ Hornets (16-0) in a 67-0 shutout and the 143rd straight victory for a program after its sixth dual meet state title.

“I was a little gassed, but I had to buckle down,” said Thomas. “Looking back, I’d have felt awful if I’d have been the only one to have lost; I’m glad I made sure that didn’t happen.”

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