Luke Bender – 138

January 18, 2020 – Sophmore Grayson Wendel of Springbrook takes down Luke Bender of Cape Henlopen but Bender recovered an took the 138 lb. weight class with a 13-5 finals victory at the Grapple at the Brook at Springbrook High School on January 19th. Photo by Mike Clark/The Montgomery Sentinel

SILVER SPRING – Springbrook High School student Sayfore Sieh is only a fourth-year wrestler, yet the 145-pound senior’s accomplishments outweigh his relative inexperience.

The son of Liberian-born parents and an A-average student who aspires to major in engineering or medicine in college, Sieh is the Blue Devil’s only remaining unbeaten wrestler at 23-0 after placing third at counties, second at regions and fifth at states last season.

Before his partisan fans at the Jan. 17-18 Grapple at the Brook, Sieh negotiated a 72-second pin, a 13-7 semifinal decision, and a championship bout forfeit to lead Springbrook to win their home event. For his performance, Sieh’s first-place victory was an improvement on last year’s third-place finish in the 16-team event.

“We could feel the energy as a team in the atmosphere of our gym, and we really enjoyed having so much support from our fans,” said Sieh. “I’ve only been wrestling since my freshman year, but we have a great coach (Rob Whittles) who is a great teacher.”

Sieh was among 10 wrestlers who placed in the top five for the defending Class 4A state dual meet champion Blue Devils (223.5 points), who finished ahead of runner-up Cape Henlopen (221) of Lewes, Delaware, to win the tournament for the third straight year.

Junior Van Ngo (113) joined Sieh on the victory podium, earning a fall and a semifinal 6-3 victory over third-place Robert Jiminez of Wilson High School (Washington, D.C.) before decking Northwest High School junior Josh Liebowitz at 4:46 of their title bout.

Runners-up for the Blue Devils were sophomore Grayson Wendel (138), junior Matt Kilby (120) and seniors Pierre Jean (132) and Edwin Peralta (160). Seniors Anthony Gomez (182) and Eric Stratton (195) finished in third, while senior Matt Bauer (220) captured fourth place, and senior Chinua Sabater (126) ended up in fifth.

Senior champions Siavash Sarvestani (132), John Wallmark (160) and Yoan Olympio (182) paced third place Northwest (146), with fourth place going to Clarksville  senior Johnny Pisano (106) and junior Alex Gonzalez (120).

Sarvestani (25-3 record) edged Jean, 6-4, in the finals, getting there after winning his first two bouts, 20-6, and 10-0. Wallmark used a fall and a pair of major decisions to reach the finals, where he handled Chris Marones of Gaithersburg High School, 9-1. Olympio used to pins to enter the title bout, which he won by forfeit.

Pisano sandwiched falls in 3:08 and 1:51 in his title bout around a semifinal 6-3 decision, and Gonzalez (26-1) scored falls in 29 and 37 seconds before pinning Kilby in 3:46 of their final.

“I was kind of nervous after Kilby took me down because he’s a fast-paced wrestler who never stops,” Gonzalez said. “But once I got on top, I was able to slip in the cradle and pin him. It was really exciting to win this, especially since I got second last year after being pinned in the first period.”

Springbrook’s victory also was a bounce back performance after a Dec. 14 loss to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, which ended a 19-match winning streak. Last year, the Blue Devil went 25-1, with their only loss being against 17-time county champion Damascus, 39-24.

The Blue Devils started the season winning the Golden Eagle Duals Tournament at Aberdeen High School in Harford County on Dec. 7.

“We had a tough loss to B-CC the previous week, but I’ve been happy with the way the team responded,” Head Coach Rob  Whittles said on Dec. 7. “We just need to keep working hard and improving every week. We have the Grapple then some big duals coming up in January so we hopefully can keep getting better,”

Following the loss to B-CC, they rebounded with a win at the Dec. 20-21 Spartan Slam at Broad Run High in Ashburn, Virginia, the second straight year that Springbrook won the event.

“We’re really confident, and we already feel as if we’re the best (public school) team in the state,” said Sieh. “But we’re working even harder to improve and to eliminate the mistakes that we made in that loss.”

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