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“Peaceful Warrior” Mann wins third para jiu-jitsu crown in Abu Dhabi

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Ronald Mann, who lost the bottom half of his left leg in a motorcycle accident 23 years ago, took just 23 seconds on April 16, 2017, to earn the swiftest submission victory and a gold medal for his crown at the inaugural World Para Jiu-Jitsu Festival in Abu Dhabi.

“The Peaceful Warrior” returned to Abu Dhabi on April 21, this time winning a pair of gold medals.

Mann not only defended his para jiu-jitsu title with a five-minute-long decision over 181-pound Japanese amputee Wataru Horie, but the 46-year-old won by arm-bar submission in 3 ½ minutes over open division rival Stacy Duchscherer of Canada, who outweighed him by 59 pounds.

Like Mann, Horie and Duchscherer are amputees below their left knees.

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Bethesda resident Marin stops Ruiz in second round, title shot looms

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boxing gloves1Romanian-born Alexandru Marin of Bethesda scored a second-round knockout of Michael Ruiz Jr. on Saturday, ending their junior bantamweight (115 pounds) bout at the 44-second mark at the Masonic Temple in Norfolk, Virginia, and setting himself up for a potential July title shot against left-handed International Boxing Organization champion Gideon Buthelezi.

The 26-year-old Marin (16-0, 11 knockouts) registered his sixth stoppage victory in his past of eight bouts, flooring Ruiz (12-5-3, 4 KOs) in the final round. Ruiz, 28, was knocked out for the only time since January 2012, when he was TKO’d in the seventh by undefeated Matthew Villanueva.

“It’s not just Alex won, but the way he won that was impressive, stopping a guy who had gone the distance in draws against top 20 guys and who was peaking in his own career,” said Bruce Babashan, who trains Marin out of the Rockville-based Champion’s Boxing & Fitness gym.

“Some guy make leaps in their careers, and for Alex, this was a step up in the way that you want to see a fighter step up. We would have been happy with a convincing win, but this was an exceptional performance at a very high level against a tough opponent.”

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Good Counsel graduate Snyder signs with wrestling apparel company

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Dear WrestlingOlympic gold medalist and two-time world champion wrestler Kyle Snyder announced his decision to sign with wrestling apparel brand RUDIS on Monday in a letter entitled, "Dear Wrestling." COURTESY PHOTO  Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Kyle Snyder, a three-time NCAA champion and four-time finalist at Ohio State, signed with wresting apparel brand RUDIS on Monday.

A 22-year-old Good Counsel graduate who is considered by some to be the world’s greatest all-time amateur wrestler, Snyder’s move follows some of the sport’s preeminent names, including Dave Schultz, Kenny Monday, Brandon Slay, Cary Kolat, Lincoln McIlravy and Russ Hellickson.

“I will be wearing RUDIS equipment during all of my competitions,” said Snyder, in an e-mail response to The Sentinel. “I am competing at The World Cup April on April 7th and 8th as well as in The World Team trials on June 9th.” 

Snyder announced his decision in a letter entitled, “Dear Wrestling,” written to the sport.

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Landon’ Axel Giron places fourth at nationals and earns All-American honors

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Wrestling clip artLandon junior Axel Giron won six of eight bouts, pinning twice, to earn All-American honors with his fourth-place finish at 113 pounds in the March 23-25 National High School Coaches’ Association tournament at The Convention Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“Coming into the tournament, I was just trying to see if I could do my best, and wasn’t sure I could make it that far,” said Giron of an event featuring freshman, sophomore, junior and senior divisions.

“So I’m actually really surprised, and overall, I think I had a pretty good tournament. It feels good to realize that I’ll be coming back to school knowing that I’m a high school All-American and it makes up for the tournaments that I didn’t do well in at Landon.”

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Sentinel names All-Sentinel Wrestling Team

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Wrestling clip artCoach Of The Year: Andy Katz, Landon: Katz’s Bears had a groundbreaking season in his 23rd year, being sixth at private schools states within a 30-team field that included champion Mount St. Joseph of Baltimore, finishing ahead of two-time former private schools state champion Good Counsel (eighth) and IAC rivals Georgetown Prep (12th) and Bullis (16th).

Sophomore Lorenzo Lopez (126) became Landon's first state champion a year after an illness prevented him from competing at the IAC and state tournaments. The Bears placed seven wrestlers at states, with senior Brendon Gallagher (145) being a runner-up for the second consecutive year, junior Axel Giron (120) being third, junior Jelani Machen (170) fourth, senior Carter Johnson (182) seventh and sophomore Patrick Kielb (132) and senior Joel Desroches (195) eighth.

“This is the highest team finish in Bear history,” said Katz, whose Bears improved on last year’s 12th place finish at states. “The last highest place was seventh in 2001 with six place-winners. We had seven place-winners, which is the highest in school history.”

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Ohio State’s Snyder earns dramatic decision over archrival, wins third straight NCAA title

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Ohio State senior Kyle Snyder’s takedown with 24 seconds left secured his third straight NCAA crown with a 3-2 decision over 285-pound Adam Coon of Michigan last Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

A 22-year-old Good Counsel graduate who is considered by some to be the world’s greatest all-time amateur wrestler, Snyder, won in dramatic fashion for the second time over a two-week span against Coon, who has a record of 29-2 and was the only man to defeat Snyder this season.

Snyder, of Woodbine, reached the finals on a technical fall, a major decision and a pair of decisions to improve to 17-1 on the year, having now won two straight NCAA titles at 285 after being a runner-up as a 197-pound freshman, his 3-1 loss to the 21-year-old Coon on Feb. 11 being his first collegiately since the NCAA finals of that freshman season.

Snyder, whose parents are Steve and Tricia, is a two-time World Champion and an Olympic gold medalist at 213 pounds who became the first American wrestler ever to return to college after winning his Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“I’ve been blessed, and I’ve got a lot of natural gifts that I’m thankful for. It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of consistency,” said Snyder, during a video interview on trackwrestling.com.

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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.

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Churchill wrestler Connolly gains redemption with dramatic 6-4 overtime state title victory

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Sherwood’s Chris Sanchez had the best of Churchill’s Jack Connolly in this takedown but Connolly went on to win the 138lb match in the Class 4A-3A State Wrestling Championship held at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro. PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITHSherwood’s Chris Sanchez had the best of Churchill’s Jack Connolly in this takedown but Connolly went on to win the 138lb match in the Class 4A-3A State Wrestling Championship held at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro. PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITH  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.”

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Harris completes long journey from Ethiopia to become Jaguars’ third state champion,

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Northwest’s Yonas Harris defeats Jagger Clapsadle of Stephen Decatur in the 106lb match of the Class 4A/3A State Wrestling Championships. PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITH Northwest’s Yonas Harris defeats Jagger Clapsadle of Stephen Decatur in the 106lb match of the Class 4A/3A State Wrestling Championships. PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITH  UPPER MARLBORO — When Yonas Harris smiles, as the Northwest senior did following Monday’s dramatic come-from-behind, 7-5 overtime victory that secured his 106-pound Class 4A-3A state championship over Stephen Decatur sophomore Jagger Clapsadle, there is a bright glow complimenting his bleached-blond hair, lighting up the gym at Show Place Arena.

But Harris’ joy in the aftermath of a definitive accomplishment, culminating just four years of exposure to wresting, belies the journey he has endured from an impoverished section of his native Kombolcha, Ethiopia.

It is a pilgrimage best described in the perfect diction of words from the young man who experienced it.

“I was adopted from Ethiopia at the age of nine. I came to America because both of my parents had passed away, and it was a very impoverished area. Once I got here, I was adopted by Lisa Harris, a loving, single mother who took really good care of me,” said Harris, who has a B-average and a record of 46-1.

“After two years of speaking English, I was already taking AP classes and was able to get my grades up. The entire process was a difficult transition due to some of the trauma from my past, but I don’t feel sorry for myself, and I don’t want anyone else to feel sorry for me.”

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Region champions Sanchez, Higazi among eight Sherwood wrestlers headed to Class 4A-3A states

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Wrestling clip artJunior title winners Chris Sanchez (138) and Yusuf Higazi (170) are among eight wrestlers from the Sherwood Warriors who placed fourth or higher at the Feb. 23 and 24 Class 4A-3A North Regionals at Milford Mill High, an effort that qualifies the contingent for this weekend’s Class 4A-3A state tournament at The Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro.

Finishing third were Sherwood senior Rhyth Ghosh (152) and juniors Paul Christianson (126), Sam Ewing (132), Tristan McKneely (145) and Adam Pfeiffer (160), with sophomore Brandon Holda (113) being fourth.

Blair and Paint Branch each had five wrestlers place within the top four of their divisions at Class 4A-3A North Regions, and Springbrook placed four, all of whom qualified for states.

Ghosh pinned Dheduhs Anumgba of Paint Branch in their third-place bout, avenging a 9-4 loss and improving on his sixth-place finish at counties where Anumgba was third.

Ewing upset Blair’s Bryan Huynh, 3-1, in overtime for third place, avenging an earlier 11-7 loss and improving on his fourth place finish at counties where Huynh was first.

Also, Pfeiffer improved on his fourth-place finish at counties, Holda on his fifth, and Christianson his sixth. McKneely failed to place at counties.

“It’s great to see all of the hard work and effort is starting to pay off at the right time,” said Sherwood wrestling coach Pete Siarkas. “The boys have worked real hard, and I’m glad they are peaking at the right time.”

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