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Landon wins IACs, Damascus eyes another state duals crown

Wrestling clip artLandon crowned Axel Giron (120), Lorenzo Lopez (126), Patrick Kielb (132), Jonny Gherman (152), Brendon Gallagher (160), Jelani Machen (170) and Carter Johnson (182), with Luc Schermer (138) and Terrance Bridgers (285) finishing second as the Bears won their first Interstate Athletic Conference tournament crown in the 23-year coaching history of Andy Katz.

Finishing third were Patrick Townsend (113) and Joel Desroches (220), and Nick Haller (195), fourth as the Bears placed 12 of 13 wrestlers within the top four of their weight classes for the program’s first outright title since 1994, adding the tournament to their regular-season dual meet championship earned with a school-record mark of 16-5 overall and 6-0 in the IAC.

The Bears (195.5 points) overcame runner-up St. Albans (127) to dethrone third place 13-time IAC champion Georgetown Prep (122), their dual meet victory total being the highest since the 15-win season of 2005 to 2006, the last time the Bears won a piece of the crown.

“For the first time this season, we were able to present our strongest line-up,” said Katz. “Everyone made weight and our injured wrestlers were cleared to go for the championship. It was an amazing day. This was a team effort across the board.”

Giron, Lopez, Kielb, Gallagher and Machen all nailed down pins in their championship bouts, with Lopez, Machen and Gallagher doing so in only 19, 36 and 49 seconds, respectively.

Lopez, Kielb, Gallagher and Johnson all earned their second straight crowns, and Machen, his first after being a runner-up in last year’s event. Lopez was named Outstanding Wrestler.

Meanwhile, Damascus begins pursuit of its unprecedented sixth straight state dual meet crown, its 22nd consecutive win and its 149th victory in a row against visiting Winters Mill of Carroll County during Wednesday’s Class 2A West regional semifinals.

Coached by John Furgeson, the top-seeded Swarmin’ Hornets (21-0) will face the No. 4 Falcons (11-3) at 5:30, with No. 2 Middletown (13-1) and No. 3 Williamsport (11-1) clashing in the other semifinal. The winners will meet in the title match at 7 p.m., with the regional champion advancing to Saturday’s state finals at North Point High in Charles County.

“It’s going to be a fight. One of the most anticipated matches of the year,” said Furgeson. “All four teams have earned the right to be there, and this will be a true battle.”

Host and No. 1 team Churchill (23-1) will face Northwest (10-4) in one Class 4A West final, with the other featuring No. 2 Clarksburg (11-3) and No. 3 Bethesda-Chevy Chase.

The Class 4A North will be at No. 1 Urbana (12-2) of Frederick County, which will wrestle Mervo (9-3) of Baltimore City while No. 2 Blair (26-6) has a rematch with No. 3 Springbrook (18-4), a 45-15 winner over the Blazers on Jan. 30.

“I’m excited that Blair has qualified for the region duals. It’s the first time the program has done so in many years, so we’re moving in the right direction,” said second-year coach Tim Grover.

“At the same time, we have a sour taste in our mouths for taking two losses in the final week of the regular season. We’ll be working very hard this week to correct mistakes and dish out some payback on Wednesday.”

The Swarmin’ Hornets went 25-0 last season, stretching their consecutive dual meet winning streak to 127 for a fifth straight 4A-3A state dual meet crown. But the Swarmin’ Hornets can’t win a seventh tournament, given that the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s structure was adjusted in April to no longer keep team scores while crowning individual champions.

Formerly separated into 4A-3A and 2A-1A classifications out of North, South, East and West regions, the MPSSAA will now crown four (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A) separate regional and state dual champions as opposed to two.

Damascus has also been reclassified into 2A from 3A based on decreased enrollment, and will compete in 2A West for duals, and 2A-1A West for the regional tournament, according to state tournament coordinator Michael Duffy.

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