UPPER MARLBORO — Junior Johnny McLaughlin and senior Ryan Lawrence of Damascus had diverging perspectives after winning respective 126- and 145-pound Class 2A-1A state titles in Monday’s season-ending tournament at The Show Place Arena.
McLaughlin (41-6), a two-time county champion, already is gearing up for next season after handling previously unbeaten junior regional champion Ryan Wagener (42-1) of Baltimore County’s Eastern Tech 7-2 for his initial championship after twice being a third-place finisher at states.
A county runner-up as a sophomore, McLaughlin was eight days removed from a 7-5 victory over the previous year’s state title-winner Travis Crawford of South Carroll for his third straight regional crown.
“‘Don’t get third again’ – that’s all I repeated to myself coming into this,” said McLaughlin. “So this feels really good after my freshman and sophomore seasons, and I wanna do the same thing again next year.”
But Lawrence (48-0) proclaimed himself “done with this sport forever” after rolling through his first round and quarterfinal opponents on pins in 37 seconds, 1:34, blanking his semifinal rival 7-0 and hammering senior regional champion Skyler Minutelli (42-4) of Sparrows Point 11-3 for his second straight title after having placed third as a sophomore.
A midfielder on the Swarmin’ Hornets’ lacrosse team, Lawrence will eschew collegiate wrestling in favor of that sport.
“Wrestling’s been amazing, but I don’t think I’ll miss it,” said Lawrence. “I’m just really happy to finish undefeated the way that I did.”
The son of Damascus assistant Troy Lawrence, a former state champion who competed for the University of Maryland, Ryan missed his entire freshman wrestling season due to a back injury suffered while horsing around away from the mats during the second week of practices.
“After his freshman and sophomore years, it’s great to see him win a second title,” said Troy Lawrence, tears welling up in his eyes. “I’ve had a blast coaching him throughout the past few years, so I’m definitely glad that he did it. I’m actually sad that it’s over because he’s fun to watch.”
Runners-up for the Swarmin’ Hornets were freshman Michael Emerick (106), sophomore Tim Furgeson (160) and junior Elijah Baisden (285), the latter falling 11-5 to junior repeat state title-winner Jordan Pryor (33-0) of Baltimore City’s Dunbar High. Finishing third was senior Ben Lokos (170), with senior John Allan Furgeson (152) being fourth.
The Swarmin’ Hornets were without senior two-time county and regional champion Paul Evan Purkey (195), who was suffering from concussion-related symptoms, according to his father Paul. The problem originated from a collision as a member of the Swarmin’ Hornets’ past two of three straight state championship-winning football teams.
A private schools state titlist as a Good Counsel sophomore, Purkey was a heavy favorite to earn his second public schools’ crown, having beaten the eventual champion, senior Cam Farrow of Middletown 7-5 in the previous weekend’s Class 2A-1A West Region finals.
“Unfortunately, we had a big loss with Paul Evan Purkey, but I thought we did a great job with the rest of the team,” said wrestling coach John Furgeson, who is 311-107-3 in 22 seasons, and whose assistants include Lawrence, Ed Obendorfer, Clark Baisden and Ed Irons.
“We just had so many people coming up to us and congratulating us on our season, saying what kind of men we’re coaching, and that, in some way, was comforting to us as coaches, given that we’ve really loved this group of kids.”
The Swarmin’ Hornets couldn’t win a seventh state tournament given the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s adjusted structure in April to no longer keep team scores while crowning individual champions.
Although no official team scores were tabulated at states, calculations on the popular Maryland Wrestling Forum had the Swarmin’ Hornets (161 points), Glenelg (121) of Howard County and Owings Mills (98.5) of Baltimore Couny finishing, first, second and third.
The Swarmin’ Hornets vanquished Glenelg of Howard County 49-16 in the Class 2A championship finals on Feb. 10, competing in their second consecutive 25-0 dual meet season with their 152nd win in a row and their program’s unprecedented sixth straight state duals crown.
The Swarmin’ Hornets have also beaten Class 4A state dual champion Urbana of Frederick County 40-18, and Class 3A title winner Huntingtown 54-7.
The son of Coach Furgeson and a third-place finisher at states last year, John Allan has quarterbacked the programs’ past two football teams, of which Lokos, Baisden and younger sibling Tim Furgeson were also members.
“I know that no scoring was kept for the state tournament, but we know that we’d have won it. What the seniors on this team have done over the last four years has to be unprecedented,” said Coach Furgeson, adding that John Allan will play football and wrestle at McDaniel College in Westminster.
“If you look at it, the seniors on our squad have won eight state titles overall in wrestling, and that’s just amazing. It was so humbling to hear John Allan tell me as he came off the mat for the last time that, ‘Dad, I’ll never be coached by you again.’”
Lawrence and McLaughlin are two of the many storylines achieved by members of the close-knit Swarmin’ Hornets over the past couple of years.
McLaughlin was a freshman when his senior sibling, Colin (160) was a state runner-up, improving on his third-place finish of a year earlier but falling in the state finals to Centennial senior Austin Kraisser, a three-time state champion who was second as a freshman. Colin watched from the stands on Monday at the Show Place Arena, according to Johnny McLaughlin.
“My brother was at the tournament cheering me on with some of his friends,” said McLaughlin. “The tournament was just as intense as it’s always been, and I’ll have a lot to talk to [Colin] about.”
It has been two years since Lawrence, winner of three each in county and regional titles, was forced to settle for third at Class 4A-3A states after having been “20 seconds” from reaching the finals “and then getting pinned.
More specifically, Lawrence led his semifinal bout 3-2 against then-Centennial freshman Jason Kraisser before being reversed to his back and decked as the match-ending buzzer sounded.
Lawrence’s only other loss as a junior was also against a two-time state champion when he fell 7-6 to Southern-Garrett County’s Devan Hamrick after blowing a lead in the bout’s final 30 seconds.
Lawrence left no doubt who the best man was in last year’s Class 4A-3A states, using a decision, a major decision and a semifinal pin to reach the championship match, where he routed Old Mill’s Chase Pennell by 21-5 technical fall to finish with a mark of 48-1.
In January, Lawrence won his third straight crown at the prestigious War On The Shore Tournament at Stephen Decatur High in Berlin of Worcester County, winning his semifinal 3-1 over Virginia’s sixth-place state finisher Elijah Williams of Nansemond River High, and head-locking two-time Delaware state runner-up Kyle McDonough of Sanford High for a 64-second fall.
A two-time county champion, Tim Furgeson improved on last year’s regional runner-up finish with a crown in that event as did Baisden, a 195-pounder last year and winner of his first county title two weeks ago.
Lokos and John Allan Furgeson finished third and second at regions after having won county championships two weeks ago, and sophomore Aiden Beall (220) placed third at regions as he did at counties.
After missing all of last year due to a knee injury but winning a county title as a sophomore before finishing third at regions and states that season, Lokos earned his 100th victory with the final match of his high school career, a 3-2 overtime triumph in his third-place bout with senior regional champion Jake Griffin (42-3) of Liberty.
The triumph was revenge against Griffin from a 3-1 overtime regional semifinal loss for Lokos, a running back who was injured – at one point dislocating both elbows and fracturing his right – during late-season football games both as a junior and a senior.
“Ben wrestled the beginning of this year with two dislocated elbows,” said coach Furgeson. “He could have easily said, ‘I’m gonna take a break,’ but he didn’t do that. One of his goals was to earn his 100th win, and he did it in that very last match of his high school career.”
Emerick made up for missing counties with an injury by sandwiching two pins around a 1-0 semifinal decision, culminating with a fall in 4:26 of his regional title bout with sophomore eventual third-place state finisher Jesse Fresh of Mountain Ridge.
For Poolesville, junior Alex Carbonell (113) and sophomore Colin Savage (138) were both third at states a week after being third and second at regions, respectively.
A fourth-place county finisher two weeks ago, Savage, as a freshman, was third at counties, a regional champ and placed fifth at states. Carbonell was a county champion two weeks ago after being second as a sophomore, when he was also a regional runner-up and sixth-place finisher at states.
As Lawrence left the mat following Monday’s triumph over Minutelli, he watched Kraisser (38-0) win his third straight crown 16-3 over Huntingtown junior Josh Stokes.
“It’s the rematch that will never happen. I’ll miss being coached by my father, who has always been there for me. We’ll always have that bond, which is all that matters,” said Lawrence.
“I’m just really proud of the team for the results we’ve achieved after all of the hard work we’ve been putting in this season. They’ve really helped me out so much, and hopefully, they’ll keep the streak going.”