Last season, Poolesville High School junior wrestler Colin Savage seemed destined to win a Class 2A-1A state title.
Savage won his first-county tournament became a regional runner-up and third at states as a sophomore. As a freshman, Savage was finished third at counties, a regional champ and placed fifth at states.
He followed those performances by pinned all four of his county tournament opponents, including Class 4A-3A West Region champion Nicholas McCarthy of Richard Montgomery High School in 3:21 of their semifinal bout. He also defeated Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) High School’s Jeo Martinez of in 1:22 of their title bout.
But Savage suffered a season-ending leg injury during his regional semifinal bout, relegating him to the role of spectator at states.
“That was such a disappointment not to be able to finish the season and to be in the state tournament,” said Savage, who went 42-4 and earned First-Team All-County honors. “I’ve been taking it one match at a time, but my mindset right now is to get back to the states and finish off strong.”
Now, as a junior, Savage certainly looked a champion at the Jan. 10-11 Dorsey Duals Tournament at Poolesville High School, where the 160-pounder went 10-0, earned Outstanding Upperweight Wrestler and led his squad to a runner-up finish to Middletown of Frederick County.
Savage improved 31-1 for the season and 157-17 for his career, with junior teammate Kevin Fultz (138) and senior Xavier Kresslein (170) also finishing at 10-0 to improve to 28-3 and 32-0.
The Bullis School went 7-2 and finished third at the Duals, with freshmen Enzo Bell (106), junior NaSir Wilkinson (120), freshman Meyer Shapiro (126), junior Gene Quodala (145) and senior Austin Brown (182) all going undefeated in their bouts.
Bell had eight falls and was named Outstanding Lowerweight, improving his overall record to 29-1. Wilkinson is 28-5, Shapiro, 34-3. Quodala, 24-4, and Brown, 26-5. Brown pinned eight opponents for the “Most Pins in the Least Time” award; his total mat time was 2 minutes, 55 seconds.
In other news, B-CC swept the host Churchill High School, 48-18, and Damascus, 43-31, in a tri-meet on Jan. 11. Barons senior Christian Simpson had never experienced a victory against a Damascus High wrestler, nor had his head coach, Nick Arnone, done so either.
Simpson’s first-period fall tied both team scores at 31-all with two bouts remaining. It was the start of a come-from-behind, three-pin rally, and being followed by freshman and sophomore teammates Sam Moffitt (113) and Ike Guttentag (120) to seal the victory.
“My coaches told me not to play around and to go out and pin him. I took him down, got on top, and slammed on a crossface for the cradle, but he got out the first time. (The) second time I got him and was able to finish him,” said Simpson, who earned a major decision against the Bulldogs.
“When I got up and looked over at the bench, everybody on my team was going crazy. I’ve placed second at counties the past two years and fourth and third at regions the past two years. But I think this is my first match I’ve won against a Damascus wrestler. I’ve lost twice to (Hornets’ wrestlers) Silas Patton, and once to Michael Emerick, so this feels pretty special.”
Also registering falls for the Barons were senior Jeo Martinez (145), junior Drew Guttentag (152) and senior Evan Wasserman (160), with Martinez securing his 100th victory. The Barons rose to 20-2 on the year by beating the Hornets, who defeated the Bulldogs, 40-31.
“Over the last decade, B-CC has had some really good teams, but we’ve always been second fiddle to Damascus,” Arnone said. “All week, we talked about how it’s ‘our turn,’ and that we needed to capitalize on our opportunities. They made us work for it, but it was nice for this team to finally get the ‘monkey off our back’ and notch a win over the Hornets.”
The “Swarmin’ Hornets,”17-time defending county champions, went 26-0 last year to win their seventh straight state duals crown – the Class 2A version – following two consecutive 25-0 seasons.
However, the invincibility went away as Damascus was 4-0 before losing twice in one day on Dec. 14. The loss ended the nation’s longest winning streak at 182 and was the first victory over a Damascus squad by a Maryland team since Wootton in 2012.
Meanwhile, on the same day, the Barons ended the defending Class 4A state duals champion Springbrook’ 19-match winning streak, a year after the Blue Devils had gone 25-1.
“I’ve got nothing but respect and admiration for the Damascus wrestling program. The run they’ve had over the last eight years is a direct result of Coach (John) Furgeson, (Ed) Obendorfer and (Troy) Lawrence and the work they’ve put into that program,” said Arnone.
“The dynasty they’ve created, In my opinion, started years ago when they put in the time with their youth programs. Year in and year out, they’re a top team in the state, and that’s because they reload instead of rebuild.”
The Guttentags also pinned against the Bulldogs as did Wasserman and Jeo Martinez, with Jeo’s twin, Fabio Martinez (132), earning a pair of major decisions on the day. The Barons’ Alhassane Kouyate (220) made a critical 8-6 decision, which tied the overall match with the Hornets at 25-all with four bouts remaining.
Jeo Martinez improved to 21-0, Drew Guttentag, to 13-0, Ike Guttentag to 21-1, and Fabio Martinez to 19-3.
“This weekend was hyped up to be an epic weekend of wrestling, and I don’t think it disappointed. We obviously had a big showdown with Damascus, but it was important that we didn’t overlook Churchill,” said Arnone. “Wrestling Churchill in the region finals the last two years, we knew they were a team that we couldn’t look past.”
Winning twice for the Hornets were senior state champion Timothy Furgeson (285) and junior Sam O’Brian (285) with a pair of pins apiece, third-place state finishers junior Michael Emmerick (138) and senior Aiden Beall (182) each with a pin and a technical fall, and junior Colton DelValle (126) with a pin and a major decision.
The Bulldogs’ lone double-winner for the Bulldogs was Vincent Barnaba, who registered a fall at 170 versus the Hornets and a decision at 182 against the Barons.