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Damascus gains redemption and third state title

Damascus completed a weekend of redemption during the March 3-4 Class 4A-3A state tournament at The Show Place Arena, where three of its six state place winners overcame setbacks from a week earlier to lead the Swarmin’ Hornets to their third straight and sixth overall state title in Upper Marlboro of Prince George’s County.

Led by Penn State-bound senior Scottie Obendorfer (132), who avenged an earlier loss to win his second crown in three years, the Swarmin’ Hornets (123.5 points) overcame runner-up Urbana (99 points) of Frederick County.

A state champion as a sophomore who was runner-up last year, Obendorfer had lost his regional title bout, 6-1, to Walter Johnson’s J.D. FitzPatrick after having beaten him in both the county finals and an earlier dual meet. On Saturday, however, Obendorfer won, 5-4, after having reached the finals on a technical fall and two decisions.

“I believed God had a plan for Scottie, an that losing the regional final was a great lesson for him not to take anything for granted. Of course there is disappointment,” said coach John Furgeson. “But how you respond defines character and the person you become. Scottie was so focused this weekend and ready to wrestle. He zeroed in on what he had to do to overcome that obstacle.”

Obendorfer was joined on the victory podium by county and regional champions Ryan Lawrence (145) and Paul Purkey (182), both juniors, with third-place finishes from sophomore Johnny McLaughlin (120) and junior John Allan Furgeson (152). Junior Josh Creegan (138) was sixth for a Swarmin’ Hornets, who were two weeks removed from winning their 15th county tournament.

“Throughout the season, we knew that any losses were just preparation for the state tournament, where you see kids that you don’t see all year long,” said John Allan Furgeson, son of coach John Furgeson.

“Our mentality at states is to just win the next match and go, 1-0. If you get beat, win the next won. We supported each other and our team stepped up to the challenge and did what it was supposed to do.”

At last month’s Class 4A-3A state duals, the Swarmin’ Hornets (25-0) ran their win streak to 127 consecutive matches, earning an unprecedented fifth straight dual meet championship with wins over North Hagerstown of Washington County and Glenelg of Howard County.

“They are all champions and displayed that this weekend,” said coach John Furgeson. “They all overcame obstacles and that made them better as competitors and people. It's what we do.”

Lawrence and Purkey were simply dominant throughout states -- the former after having won his second straight county and regional titles, and the latter, after winning his first in both.

A transfer from Good Counsel, where he was a private school state champion, Purkey pinned his first couple of opponents in 55- and 63-seconds, won his semifinal, 10-5, over Northern-Calvert County’s third-place finisher Seth Cranford, and decked his championship rival, Garrett Vandervalk of Westminster, in 3:22.

A county runner-up and third-place regional finisher as a sophomore, John Allan won this year’s county crown, 10-3, over B-CC’s Seamus Selmi but lost his regional finals rematch, 4-2, to Selmi. At states, John Allan used a pair of decisions to reach the semifinals, where he lost, 3-0, to eventual champion Jake Nielson of Urbana.

Another pair of narrow victories earned third place for John Allan, but they were far from easy. The first was a 3-1 decision over Leonardtown’s John Podsednik, who was coming off an 87-fall against Selmi, and the second, a 4-2 win over Bel Air’s Scott Miser in a rematch of Friday’s 3-1 quarterfinals win.

“John Allan has a lot of talent and it showed this weekend when he rebounded from the tough regional finals. John Allan displayed what it takes to be a champion, bouncing back from the semifinal, staying focused to finishing the best place he could,” said coach Furgeson.

“When you get to this big stage it is easy to got lost in the championship atmosphere, but John Allan works hard and respects all of his opponents. I am very proud of his leadership and the lessons he learned to become a better person.”

Creegan’s story is an admirable one, given that he alternated in the lineup with junior Colin Gallagher before placing third and fourth at counties and regions.

“Josh has been a constant competitor in the room, losing wrestle-offs but remaining focused,” said coach Furgeson. “In the end, we decided to reward him with placing him in the starting lineup for the end of year tournaments.”

Creegan’s 3-3 mark at states included being pinned in 79-seconds of his first-round by Centennial’s two-time state champ Jason Kraisser, and defeating Quince Orchard’s senor county and regional runner-up Alec Falconer, 7-4, to avenged a 5-3 regional semifinal loss. Creegan lost his next two matches after Falconer, but was already guaranteed a top six finish.

“Josh focused and didn’t give up against Falconer. They have respect for each other and Falconer and Creegan gave everything they had,” said coach Furgeson. “Fortunately, Josh came out on top, answering the bell because of his hard work and determination to prove to us we made the right decision.”

A sophomore who was county and regional champion last year, McLaughlin reached Saturday’s semifinals on a technical fall and a pin before falling, 5-3, to eventual repeat state champ, Nathan Gainey of Arundel in Anne Arundel County.

McLaughlin rebounded to win his next two bouts, 6-3, and, 3-1, over Urbana’s Cody Swigart and Clarksburg’s fourth-place Ryan Crosby. However, McLaughlin then watched Gainey win his state title bout, 2-1, over Lucas Young of Churchill, who defeated him, 4-3, at counties before losing their regional title bout rematch, 8-2.

“I beat Young in regionals, but he got a better spot than me in the state seeding on the other side of the brackets,” said McLaughlin, who finished third a year ago after losing his semifinal, 14-6, to senior Jarrett Jacobs of Urbana, the eventual runner-up.

“It’s the way it worked out, but I’m not too bummed about it being that this is the third year in a row that we found a way to win states. We’re state champions again, which is a blessing and tremendous source of pride.”

In addition to Young and FitzPatrick, Northwest senior Khalil Owens (170) was another finalist, losing his title bout, 7-2, to Oakdale’s Logan McKoy. Owens was a county and regional runner-up to Churchill’s Andrew Welch, who finished.

The county was also represented by third place finishing Magruder junior C.J. Cramma (113), Quince Orchard junior Alejandro Lopez (132) and Clarksburg junior Nick Gonzalez (138), and fourth-place Walter Johnson junior Kemper Stearns (113), Clarksburg senior Ryan Crosby (120) and Blair junior Ryan Holland (138).

Placing fifth were Poolesville freshman Colin Savage (126), Paint Branch senior Nolan Smith (145) and B-CC junior Gabe McAndrew (195), and sixth were Poolesville sophomore Alex Carbonell (106) and Churchill senior Jack Connolly (126).

"After being back and forth with Colin all year, it feels great to be one of the guys who placed at states after being seeded eighth at counties," said Creegan. "Next year, I'll be a senior, and there will be a lot more pressure, but I can't wait to come back and embrace it."

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