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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.

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QO Cougars’ Lopez pins Churchill Bulldogs’ Connolly: 'I’ve got a goal to win states’

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POTOMAC — Alejandro Lopez could barely stand, let alone wrestle Thursday of last week as the result of pains in his gut.

“I just woke up sick and my stomach wasn’t feeling right. Every other hour I was in the bathroom, and it lasted all day,” said Lopez, a senior at Quince Orchard. “I woke up today and I was three-and-a-half pounds underweight, which isn’t normal for me. I wasn’t sure how I’d do.”

But Lopez was exemplary during the Cougars’ 56-22 loss to the host Churchill Bulldogs in Saturday’s tri-meet with the 15-time county champion Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets, which handled Churchill 47-15 and Quince Orchard 72-9.

Lopez won a marquee bout between two of Maryland’s premiere 138-pound wrestlers, scoring nine-answered points to overcome an early 2-0 deficit against the Bulldogs’ Jack Connolly, whom he twice cradled to his back – the second time for a fall in three minutes, 15 seconds.

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Churchill wrestlers earn Paint Branch crown, eye Damascus showdown

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20180120 The Pit 195lb 1Both Andrew Welch of Churchill and Ike Kalu of Western Tech are exhausted as their 195-lb weight class finals took 8:00. Welch prevailed for the win. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  Sean Mahan (145), Fio Tranquill (182) and Andrew Welch (195) won titles, with seniors Chris Ervin (120) and Jack Connolly (138) finishing second as Churchill placed 11 wrestlers within the top six of their weight classes to win the 21-team Paint Branch Invitational Tournament on Jan. 19 and 20.

The Bulldogs (18-0 overall, 8-0 minus tournament dual meets) outscored runner-up Old Mill of Anne Arundel County 220.5-to-203.5, continuing their tremendous year under coaches Tim Lowe and Tony Howard heading into Saturday’s tri-meet with Quince Orchard at 15-time county champion Damascus.

At Paint Branch, Elijah Jack (152) finished third, Ryan Kaplow (220) and Alec Velikanov (285) were fourth, Carlos Villamar (132) fifth, and Parker DeSalvio (160) and Mac Ballman (170) both sixth.

The Bulldogs are now 3-0 in tournaments, having gone 10-0 to win the Rocket Launch Duals at Richard Montgomery and captured the title at the Joe Verciglio Memorial Tournament at Chantilly High of Virginia under Lowe, who was a two-time state champion at Einstein while Howard was a three-timer at Magruder.

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Blair senior pins down school’s all-time wins mark.

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Blair BlazersSenior Ryan Holland (160) decked Einstein’s Nehemias Salgado in two minutes, 38 seconds for his 97th victory during a 72-8 triumph on Thursday, becoming Montgomery Blair’s all-time career wins leader.

A fourth-place finisher at counties and states last season who was third at regions, Holland surpassed Billy Santurno, a 125-pound regional champion who graduated in 2012 with 96 wins.

“Ryan Holland is simply an outstanding young man,” said coach Tim Grover. “Being Blair’s career wins leader is a culmination of four years of dedication and daily hard work.”

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Springbrook wins home tournament for the first time in its 20-year history

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Sprngbrook's Jean Mehul and Sherwood's Tristan McKneeley battle in the 145lb weight class. Mehul takes the championship. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKSprngbrook's Jean Mehul and Sherwood's Tristan McKneeley battle in the 145lb weight class. Mehul would go on to take the championship. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  Third-year wrestling junior Jean Mehul (145) was the lone champion for host Springbrook, winner of its January 12-13 Battle at the Brook Tournament for the first time in the event’s 20-year history.

The Blue Devils (197.5 points) overcame the second place Sherwood Warriors (180) by placing eight wrestlers within the top four of their weight classes, with Ming-Tri Nguyen (113) being a runner-up, Billy Madden (126), Sahid Antar (160), Jack Brutus (195) and Aimrick Nya (285) placing third, and Pierre Jean (106) and Sayfore Sieh (120) finishing fourth.

Sherwood had six wrestlers finish within the top four, with Chris Sanchez (138) being first, Chase Suissa (120), Sam Ewing (132) and Tristan Mckneeley (145), second, and Rythy Gosh (160) and Adam Pfeiffer (182) both fourth.

“We knew Sherwood had some really tough kids and that Sanchez was going to score a lot of points. But we’re a scrappy team that received contributions from everybody,” said Whittles, a 36-year-old fifth-year coach.

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Sherwood junior defeats Clarksburg senior for impressive victory at Battle of the Brook

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Chris Sanchez of Sherwood takes a 15-8 decision on Clarkburg's Nick Gonzalez for the 138lb weigth class tournament. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKSherwood's Chris Sanchez takes a 15-8 decision on Clarkburg's Nick Gonzalez for the 138lb weight class tournament. PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  Chris Sanchez executed a five-point throw to break a 4-all tie and end the first period as the 138-pound Sherwood junior overcame Clarksburg senior Nick Gonzalez for a 15-8 title-winning victory in a marquee bout of the Jan. 12-13 Battle at The Brook tournament at Springbrook.

A DeMatha transfer who was fifth in last year’s private schools' state tournament, Sanchez won a clash between two of Maryland’s top public school wrestlers in only his second tournament of the year over consecutive weekends.

“Getting that move late in the first period was big for creating separation,” said Sanchez, who improved to 6-0 with four pins and a technical fall, pacing the Warriors (180 points) to a runner-up finish behind the host Blue Devils (197.5).

“I wish I could have stuck him, but I really didn’t get the right angle on it. I was able to maintain the right mindset for the rest of the match and take advantage of my opportunities.”

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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.”

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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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Smith, Fuondjing help Paint Branch Panthers pin down Rockville Duals crown

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Paint Branch High School's Austin Smith, winner of the 195 lb bracket, is surrounded by teammates as he holds the 1st Place Team trophy at the Rockville Rumble Duals Wrestling Tournament.  PHOTO BY GEORGE P. SMITH Paint Branch's Austin Smith, winner of the 195 lb bracket, is surrounded by his teammates as he holds the First Place Team trophy at the Rockville Rumble Duals Wrestling Tournament. PHOTO BY GEORGE P. SMITH  Juniors Austin Smith (195) and Wafeu Fuondjing (285) won all nine bouts Saturday to pace the Paint Branch Panthers past runner-up Northwest, 31-27, for the title of the Rockville Rumble Duals Wrestling Tournament. 

Smith rose to 20-0, and Fuondjing to 19-1. Smith’s biggest win of the year is a 4-3 decision over Good Counsel transfer Drew Brenowitz of Clarksburg, a sixth place private schools finisher last year.

“Brenowitz was a tough match that will help me to get into the right mindset after not having too many tough matches so far,” said Smith, son of Paint Branch wrestling coach Rick Smith. “I missed counties and regions last year with a back injury, so I’m feeling ready to finish strong over the rest of our tough schedule.”

Also wrestling well for the Panthers (15-5) were Brian Trinh (106), Amir Abdur Rahim (138), Dheduce Anumgba (160), Kyle Isolato (170), Tom Bettinger (182) and Wisdom Agbeyome (220). Trinh is 19-1, Bettinger is 17-2, Anumgba is 12-2, Isolato is 15-5, Agbeyome is 6-2, and Rahim, 12-6.

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Holland blazing trail toward Blair’s all-time career victories mark

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Blair BlazersSeniors Ryan Holland (152) and Rudy Ngougni (220) and sophomore Mervin Mancia are undefeated in eight bouts, all of them pins, for the Montgomery Blair Blazers, who are off to an 8-0 start in dual meets under second-year coach Tim Grover.

Holland was fourth at counties and states and third at regions, and Ngougni, fourth at counties and third at regions for the Blazers, whose biggest county victories were over Clarksburg, 35-29, and, Quince Orchard, 36-30.

Mancia has decked Walter Johnson senior Leo Saucedo and Clarksburg junior Austin Smith. Saucedo was county runner-up and third at regions, Smith went 24-10 at 220 last season, and Mancia, 13-12.

“Our best performances of the season so far were probably against Walter Johnson and River Hill [Howard County]. We beat WJ, 53-16, on December 6 and River Hill, 42-19, on December 21. Last year WJ beat us, 52-18, and River Hill beat us, 49-17, and we all brought back similar teams this year,” said Grover, whose Blazers were 16-5 last year and 9-12 two seasons ago.

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