Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:25 PM
Published on: Thursday, December 05, 2013
By Donna Broadway
ROCKVILLE - With football in its final week of the playoffs and many of the fall sports already crowning their 2013 champions, it’s time for the winter sports. Here is a preview of a couple of the county’s top wrestling teams.
The 2012-2013 Springbrook Wrestling team placed fifth in the 4a/3a championships. This is Whittles first year coaching along with first year assistant coach Nadjitade Badje, 2009 state champ. Whittles says the team has worked during the off season to return in good shape. “A lot of the kids worked out over the summer and fall and came into the season in good shape. Fans should be looking for an attacking team who works hard from the start of the match until the final whistle. Also, the team has benefitted greatly from first year assistant coach. Coach Badje was a for Springbrook and has been a patient teacher with the new wrestlers as well as demonstrating a tremendous work ethic and leadership in his new role,” said Whittles.
John Fergunson, head coach of Damascus wrestling team, says the team lost four seniors but is working to make up for the loss. Returning state champ Mikey Macklin, Owen Brooks, who placed fourth at states last year, Michael Wilkerson, Cory Obendorfer, Johnny Fischer, Ari Cacopardo, and Logan Brooks are all returning and new comers Scotty Obendorfer and Brendan Parent will help solidify Damascus’ lineup.
“The corp group of kids this year have worked extremely hard to keep the momentum rolling for the up coming season. We have some great leaders that are ready to keep wrestling at a high level. We had more wrestlers go to camp and off-season tournaments to keep their eyes on the prize. We have a great group of young men that are capable of helping us win a lot of matches,” said Fergunson. “We hope to bring a lot of movement and excitement to the season this year. We are excited and have to stay focus on the task at hand. The boys are working extremely hard and coming together as a team. We should be fun to watch as well as other teams in the county. It should be a good year for Montgomery county wrestling.”
Walter Johnson Wrestling
The team took seven wrestlers to the state finals, the most in school history. Out of the finalists, six graduated so look forward to a younger WJ team. Chris Crawford 138/145 is the only returning state wrestler and starting senior. Other top wrestlers Junior Daniel Parker, 195, Junior Ray Macedonia 170, Ugo D'Agnese 138, Josh Bernstein 113, Nir Raviv 126, Maxx Espinosa 145/152, & Alex Forrest 132. Sophomores Dillon Jobes 120 and Jakub Kielb 160 are all expected to make varsity contributions. J D FitzPatrick is an incoming freshman who can make a varsity contribution at 126/132. Head coach, Thomas Wheeler says the team is talented but inexperienced.
Head coach Nick Arnone said the team has worked to make up for the loss of former assistant coach, Josh Singer, decided to step down to the head football position at the school. Dave Akatu and Jarrod Elwell were named assistant coaches for the 2013-2014 season. The team also lost 11 seniors, seven of whom were starters.
“All together, we lost 11 seniors, 7 who were starters. To overcome the loss of the seniors the underclassmen continued to work to better prepare themselves for their opportunity to contribute to the team. Unfortunately, we don't have a great deal of depth like we've had in the past. This team will really lean on the returning veterans to carry this team through the season. Our returning verterans will need to guide and lead our young but athletic team,” said Arnone.
The wrestlers to watch will be Justin Elwell, Jack Banaszak and Brendan Cowie. Elwell and Banaszak are returning state qualifiers and Cowie is a returning regional qualifier. Arnone says the school has a challenging schedule but expects his team to improve and become more competitive as the season continues.
“In regards to wrestling specifically, we've made a minor change with how we'll approach wrestlers from the neutral position. We believe this change will allow the wrestlers to focus on staying in better position and give them an opportunity for our wrestlers to score off of their opponents mistakes,” said Arnone.
Head coach Kevin O’Neill says the team has spent its offseason working at the Naval Academy and several guys participated in the Maryland Summer Wrestling League. The team has lost 11 seniors but expect Josh Hollman, Logan Tritto, Garrett Ruderman and Jay Carroll, who all placed top 6 in the regional tournament last year and will be returning to the team as captains to fill the void left by the seniors.
“Wrestling on varsity is much different from wrestling on JV. It might take a few matches for our new varsity wrestlers to get the feel for the intensity and pacing of the matches. It’s also more pressure for them to deal with. I hope we can get off to a smooth start but I expect some growing pains at the beginning of the season. As long as we continue to improve and learn from our mistakes, I think we will be a competitive team,” said O’Neill.