With five title winners and 12 wrestlers placing within the top four of their weight classes, the Damascus wrestling team featured victories by State champions Ryan Lawrence (152) and Paul Purkey (195) as well as fellow senior John Allan Furgeson (160) en route to winning the Swarmin' Hornets' own 13-team holiday tournament last week.
Other champions crowned at the end of the two day event – which took place on Dec. 27 and 28 – were freshman Michael Emerick (106) and junior Elijah Baisden (285), with junior Johnny McLaughlin (132) and seniors Josh Creegan (145) and Ben Lokos (182) placing second, sophomores Timothy Furgeson (170) and Aiden Bell (220) finishing third, and freshman Nick Biava (120) and sophomore Vito Vahasdizke (126), fourth.
The event was a dual meet format on Wednesday which yielded results toward seeding Thursday’s bracketed tournament.
Lawrence improved his record to 19-0 on Thursday by earning a 3-1 championship decision over two-time Mid-Atlantic Conference champion Joey Dunn of Sidwell Friends. Lawrence's win over Dunn was the second in two days, with a 3-2 decision during Wednesday's dual meet earning him his 100th career victory. After Thursday, his win count rose to 108.
“This is probably the fourth or fifth time that I’ve wrestled him in the past few years,” said Lawrence, a two-time county and regional title winner who was third at states as a sophomore.
“This was a real test, beating him for the 100th and focusing on cleaning things up. We still have some things to work out and grind out in practice. But moving forward we’re looking pretty good overall.”
Furgeson (20-0 record) earned his crown with a 3-2 decision over Howard County champion Jacob Jones (15-2) of Glenelg, having earned his 100th career win with a 5-0 semifinal shutout of Clark Ledden of Georgia’s Locus Grove High.
A county champion and regional runner-up who was third at states last year, John Allan has totaled 101 career wins after quarterbacking the Swarmin’ Hornets’ past two of three straight state championship-winning football teams, including a 31-7 triumph over Gwynn Park in the Dec. 2 Class 2A title game.
The Swarmin’ Hornets are winners of six straight state wrestling tournaments, five consecutive state dual meet titles, 139 consecutive matches and 15 county tournaments, including the past six in a row. The Swarmin Hornets totaled 217.5 points on Thursday compared to 120 for runner-up Glenelg of Howard County, the team Damascus defeated 47-18 in February for the Class 4A-3A state duals title.
“This is a great way to end 2017,” said John Allan, son of wrestling coach John Furgeson. “We definitely want to repeat as state dual meet wrestling champions again. That’s definitely one of our goals, along with being considered the best in Maryland among the private and public schools.”
The University of Maryland-bound Purkey (20-1) earned his 13th, 14th and 15th pins of the year, all in the first period. A county and regional champion who earned a private schools state title as a Good Counsel sophomore, Purkey’s lone loss this year was by fall in 3:21 against North Hagerstown’s three-time state champ Aaron Brooks earlier last month.
“I was excited to wrestle Brooks. I was telling the coaches that if he didn’t bump up, I’d have wanted an exhibition,” said Purkey. “I wanted the competition because it can only help me to get better. It keeps me humble and motivated to know that there can also be someone who is better.”
Baisden (20-0) outscored two opponents by a combined 8-0, including a 1-0 championship decision over Williamsport’s 6-foot-4, 280-pound Tayquon Johnson (13-2), who outweighed him by 40 pounds.
“That’s by far the biggest guy I’ve wrestled so far, but it feels good since I lifted a lot, got stronger and have the mental confidence to go out and face guys that big,” said Baisden. “There were spurts where I felt his strength and explosiveness. I saw the chance at getting the pin, but at the same time he’s so strong that I didn’t want to risk it.”
A third-place finisher at junior league states last season, Emerick (20-0) reached the finals on a pair of first-period pins before winning, 6-0, over Williamsport’s Zaden Meyer.
“I love the home gym and the Damascus crowd supporting me,” said Emerick. “My coaches are really proud of me, and that made it really special. But as a freshman, you still have to prove yourself every time out.”
Glenelg crowned Kevin Hansberger (120) and Jared Thompson (132), with the latter scoring all of his points in the final period to overcome McLaughlin, 11-8, for the crown.
“Once I got him down, I felt him going over and went for back points from there. It feels good to beat McLaughlin now since I could possibly see him at states,” said Thompson (15-0, ten pins), a third-place finisher at states who won the deepest weight class, pinning Oakdale’s fourth-place state finisher Wyatt McCoy in 1:58.
“It definitely felt good sticking McCoy in the semifinals. I was gassing for some reason in the second period against McLaughlin, but I got a second wind in the third. I knew I could wrestle neutral with him all day, but he’s funky on the mat and can overcome all kinds of scrambles. I’ve never wrestled a kid that funky.”
McLaughlin (19-1, 103 career wins) placed first at counties and regions as a freshman, was second and first in those events last season, and has twice placed third at states. McLaughlin earned his 100th career victory, 6-4, over McCoy on Wednesday, and reached the finals on a 5-2 decision over third place private schools finisher Cord Richardson of Good Counsel.
Timothy Furgeson, a county champ, and regional runner-up, lost his semifinal, 4-3, to Glenelg’s Max Sotka, a state runner-up and county and regional champion who fell, 16-3, in the title bout to third-place state finisher Tristen Breen of Huntingtown.
Lokos (19-2), owner of a victory over Breen, fell 6-0 in the final to Virginia state champ Tyler Matheny (20-1) of Lake Braddock. Lokos missed all of last year due to an injury after being a sophomore county champion who was third at regions and states. Creegan, who was third at counties and sixth at states, lost, 3-1, to Broadneck’s Owen Joyce (20-1), who picked up his 100th career win.
Poolesville crowned sophomore regional champ Colin Savage (138, 13-2), who was third at counties and fifth at states, and junior Alex Carbonell (113, 17-1), a county and regional runner-up who was sixth at states.
“I had been sick. Not been practicing. My first real practice was Tuesday, and I was not in shape,” said Savage, whose three major decisions were by a combined, 24-to-5.
“I was so mad after yesterday that I went home and planned what I was gonna do today. I fixed everything. I have a lot more to prove this year. I wanna prove I can be a state champion.”
Carbonell overcame Huntingtown’s fifth-place state finisher Blake Jury, 3-2, to avenge an earlier 8-4 loss and take a series lead of 3-2 between the two wrestlers.
“Mentally, it’s definitely a challenge going in and wrestling the same kid. You start to see what their favorite moves are and they start to see yours. So you’re challenged to wrestle differently, and that makes things a lot harder,” said Carbonell.
“In these close matches, it comes down to the work you’ve done in the offseason, and I lifted a lot and have gotten stronger. When it comes down to the last couple of seconds in a match, those are the factors that play into winning. This is the second time I’ve won the Damascus Tournament, and it feels great.”
IAC champion Isaac Ruderman (126), a sophomore, was a runner-up for Bullis.