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Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets sting fast, finish strong, eye sixth straight state duals crown

Damascus Swarmin HornetsThe Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets varsity wrestling team made quick work of visiting Carroll County’s Winters Mill and Frederick County’s Middletown during Thursday’s Class 2A West regional championships, setting the stage for its 23rd consecutive win and 150th in a row in pursuit of its unprecedented sixth straight state dual meet crown.

Seven of the Swarmin’ Hornets (23-0) registered at least one pin in under a minute over the course of dominating the Falcons (11-4) in the semifinal 66-12, and the Knights (14-2) for the title 47-16.

County and regional champion senior Ben Lokos (182) did so in 10 and 24 seconds, state champion senior Ryan Lawrence (145) did it in 12 and 62 seconds, and state champion senior Paul Purkey (195), in 16 and 38 seconds.

Freshman Michael Emerick (106) registered falls in 31 seconds and 2.34 minutes, junior Johnny McLaughlin (126) came through with a 56-second pin and a 16-0 technical fall, and senior Josh Creegan (138) decked his Falcons’ opponent in 27 seconds before outlasting the Knights’ Ethan Gossnickle in the championship match, 12-10.

Junior Elijah Baisden (285) won his seminal in 54 seconds before receiving a forfeit against the Knights, who overcame Williamsport (11-2) of Washington County in the other semifinal, 36-34.

“It was a packed house and a lot of fun being in that environment,” said Damascus wrestling coach John Ferguson, whose Swarmin’ Hornets advanced to Saturday’s 2 p.m. state semifinals at North Point High in Charles County with the finals to follow at 6:30.

“The other teams were definitely well-coached and ready to go, but our kids answered the call. I think a lot of the stuff that they went through this year got them ready for tonight. There were a lot of fans in the stands on both sides, and it was just a great high school event.”

Ferguson’s sons, senior John Allan (152) and sophomore Timothy (160), endured the most difficult tasks on Thursday. John Allan earned a 20-3 technical fall before winning in overtime 6-4 over the Knights’ Josh Paige, and Tim pinned his initial opponent in 3:13 before defeating Zach Brady 7-6.

“I had to get an escape in the final 30 seconds to go into overtime. I had a stall call in regulation and really couldn’t back up in overtime, so I just pressured him. The final takedown that finished the match started as a double-leg,” said John Allan.

“But it ended as a single-leg to win it. Then it was time to focus on my brother’s match. I’m always excited for when he wrestles. I was really impressed with how Tim battled back, keeping his cool and coming back to win the match when things weren’t going his way.”

The youngest Ferguson was down 4-0 after yielding a takedown and two near-fall points in the first period, trailed 5-3 entering the third and required his own set of near-fall points to break a 5-5 tie before yielding a late escape.

“During John’s match, I was jumping up and down with so much energy that when it was time for my match, I was pretty much gasping for air,” said Tim Ferguson. “But I kept pushing. I got an inside trip for a takedown to make it 5-5 before getting those back points to finish it.”

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. The Swarmin’ Hornets can’t win a seventh tournament, however, 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.

Churchill (25-1) emerged victorious in 4A West, winning its semifinal 44-24 over Northwest (10-5) as well as its championship 45-27 over Bethesda-Chevy Chase (11-5), winner of a 36-33 semifinal over Clarksburg (11-4).

Pinning twice for the Churchill Bulldogs were Sean Mahan (145) and Alec Velikanov (285), with Elijah Zack (152) registering a technical fall and a decision, Jack Connolly (138) a fall and a forfeit, Andrew Welch (195) with a decision and a forfeit, and Chris Ervin (120) a major decision and an upset 4-2 decision over the Northwest Jaguars’ Siavesh Sarvestani.

Also winning for the Bulldogs against the B-CC Barons were Mac Ballman (170) with a pin and Fio Tranquill (182) by decision.

The Barons’ double winners were Chris Simpson (106-113) with a pair of pins, and Temuullen Tessendorf (126), Drew Guttentag (132) and Gabe McAndrew (220) each with a pin and a decision.

Guttentag pinned Clarksburg’s tough Zev Margolis, and decisioned the Bulldogs’ Carlos Villamar.

The Jaguars’ top wrestlers Yonas Harris (113) and Luke Patterson (170) received forfeits from the Bulldogs, as did the Coyotes’ Gonzalez brothers, Alex (106) and Nick (138), against the Barons.

At Urbana of Frederick County, the host Hawks (14-2) dominated runner-up Springbrook (19-5), a 49-15 winner of its semifinal against Blair (26-7).

An earlier 40-18 loser to the Swarmin’ Hornets, the Hawks received pins from state champion Jake Nielson (170), fourth-place state finishers Shane Acton (160) and Kevin Makosy (195), regional champion and fifth-place state finisher Cody Swigart (132), Collin Acton (113), Jacob Arneson (152), Mason Newton (182) and Austin Geiser (285).

Ryan Gilligan (138) earned a major decision for the Hawks, who blanked Mervo (9-4) of Baltimore City, 84-0.

Double winners for the Blue Devils (19-5) were Jean Mehul (138) with a pin and a decision, Sayfore Sieh (120) with a pair of major decisions, William Madden (126) with a major decision and a decision, and Pierre Jean (106) with two decisions.

Jean avenged an earlier overtime loss with a 9-4 victory over Blair’s Brian McCaw, and required a third-period escape to edge Urbana’s Anya Knappenberger 5-4, who led early, 2-0.

Knappenberger was coming off a championship victory in the MPSSAA’s Girls Invitational Tournament on Feb. 3.

Winning for the Blazers (26-7) were Rudy Ngougni (220) by a fall, Ryan Holland (145) by decision, and Pelumi Akinpelu (182) by forfeit.

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