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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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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.

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‘Outstanding’ wrestler Harris rises to occasion for Northwest Jags at Rockville Duals

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Northwest Jaguars’ Yonas Harris won the 106 lb. weight class at the Rockville Rumble Duals, and recognized as the tournament’s “Outstanding Wrestler,” while the Jaguars won the Second Place Team Trophy. PHOTO BY GEORGE P. SMITHNorthwest's Yonas Harris won the 106 lb. weight class at the Rockville Rumble Duals, and recognized as the tournament’s “Outstanding Wrestler,” while the Jaguars won the Second Place Team Trophy.   PHOTO BY GEORGE P. SMITHNorthwest Jaguars’ senior Yonas Harris turned in his best performance of the season Saturday in the Rockville Rumble Duals Wrestling Tournament.

The returning county and regional champion’s 9-0 mark included winning a clash between Montgomery County’s premier 106-pounders, 6-2, over previously unbeaten senior Brian Trinh of Paint Branch, and scoring a major decision over the host school’s 120-pounder.

“Other than Trinh, the rest of my matches were either pins or technical falls,” said Harris, who improved to 23-0 and was named Outstanding Wrestler. “This season has started out really well for me, and I’m really excited for it.”

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MoCo wrestlers learn value of hard work and discipline at USMC wrestling clinic

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xWrestling Clinic 1 - Sgt. Cameron McNeill U.S. Marine Sgt. Cameron McNeill from the Rockville Recruiting Substation speaks to the athletes at the USMC Sports Leadership Academy Wrestling Clinic at Magruder High School. PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTH  

C.J. Cramma was Magruder’s best wrestler this past winter, but the Colonels’ junior lost more than he won against a visitor to his home gymnasium during a clinic on April Fools’ Day.

Competing at 113 pounds, Cramma won county and regional crowns and finished third at the Class 4A-3A state tournament to improve on the previous year’s placements of second, third and fourth in each.

But during a free clinic co-sponsored by the Marine Corps’ Sports Leadership Academy at Magruder on April 1, Cramma often partnered with Bethesda-Chevy Chase sophomore Eli Guttentag, who finished third at counties at 120 pounds a year after going 44-1 and winning county and regional titles before finishing third at states as a 106-pound freshman.

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Northwest’s Harris continues banner year at Westminster

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Northwest junior Yonas Harris (106 pounds) continued his banner year at the Westminster Duals on Tuesday and Wednesday, winning eight of nine bouts and defeating a pair of highly ranked wrestlers to improve his overall record on the year to 11-2.

Coming off a 19-match sophomore season, Harris pinned four opponents and earned decisions over Jake Gaskin of Liberty in Carroll County and Alex Dufour of Owings Mills in Baltimore County, who are ranked 14th and 19th by the Maryland State Wrestling Association.

Harris’ lone defeat was by technical fall against Phil Smith of Baltimore County’s Franklin High as he guided the Jaguars to a 6-4 dual meet mark in event.

“Alex tried to fight me afterward and took a swing at me, so he was pretty mad. The referee pulled him back, which was kind of crazy,” said Harris.

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Northwest rocks Poolesville, Paint Branch and Whitman to start 3-0

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JGS 5478Khalil Owens (left) defeats Mason Austin Brantly 10-2 extending Northwest's lead to 28-0. PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTH  

Even with a roster light on veteran playoff contenders, Northwest is off to a hot start in the winter wrestling season after the Jaguars picked up their third win Thursday.

Northwest (3-0) vanquished Poolesville 40-19 and Paint Branch 43-22 to start the season and clubbed last year’s Class 4A-3A West Region dual meet semifinalist Walt Whitman by a whopping 67-6 Thursday.

In doing so, the Jaguars handled a Paint Branch squad which returned 10 starters and a contingent from Poolesville whose coach, Tim Tao, expects “to be a top place contender at counties.”

“All three were good teams, and Whitman qualified for the [regional duals] and we didn’t,” said Northwest Head Coach Joe Vukovich, whose squad that has won 31 of 42 individual bouts. “We’ve definitely been wrestling with a lot of intensity, but it’s a long season. I do think we’re much more of a strong dual meet team than a tournament team.”

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