BOWIE – Aaron Hankey has been a Bowie wrestling coach for six years and said there’s no question that this season’s team is the best one he’s ever had.
The numbers certainly back up what the coach is saying. After all, the Bulldogs won their first 10 matches before losing to Southern of Anne Arundel County 48-35 earlier last month. In that match, Bowie was wrestling with four people out of the lineup, three with injuries.
However, a 12-2 start doesn’t bother Hankey – especially with a team that sits atop the county standings. That’s what makes Hankey a happy coach these days.
“We’ve pretty much had a full lineup and had guys going out there who know what they’re doing,” Hankey said. “They’ve got two or three years of experience, and that helps. We had a few who (didn’t) wrestle last year who came back.”
One of those is Nate White (132). He was ranked No. 1 in the state in his weight class and had a 26-0 record. White went to DeMatha Catholic High School the past two years before coming back to Bowie.
Last year, White posted a 63-3 record with DeMatha and is rolling this season. So far, the senior has over 150 takedowns and none against him.
Right behind White is Khri (cq) Nelson (128). He’s got a 25-1 record and been consistent all season. Cooper Mazzei (138) and Brian Commock (115) also have helped the Bulldogs so far this season.
They’ve scored many prominent victories this season in county matches, topped DuVal High School 45-23 and beat Eleanor Roosevelt High School (45-31).
Hankey now is hoping his team can keep rolling when the big tournaments come in the next month. How far can the Bulldogs go this season?
Parkdale High School won last year’s Prince George's County tournament with a team featuring 12 seniors. However, those guys are gone, and Parkdale’s not having nearly the kind of success it’s had in the past.
In fact, Bowie’s already handed the six-time defending champions a 63-18 loss earlier this season. The Bulldogs didn’t fare as badly last year at all, ending up with a 10-4 overall record plus an 8-2 mark in the county.
This year, the big meets are coming. The state dual meet tournament is next weekend at North Point High School. Damascus won the Class 4A-3A state title last year with Middletown taking the Class 2A-1A crown.
Then, the following weekend comes the county title meet with Bowie being one of the favorites. After that, the regionals followed by the individual state tournament, which will again take place at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro on March 2 and 3.
That’s where Hankey is hoping that the fact that he’s got a number of talented wrestlers who have plenty of experience on the mat could help. It is badly needed in these types of tournaments, and with wrestlers like White and Nelson leading the way, Bowie could make some noise.
“That’s where experience pays off,” Hankey said. “We’ve been consistent this year.”