Coach of the Year
Rick SmithPaint Branch, 7th year
Smith had perhaps his finest season at the Burtonsville school, leading Paint Branch to a 12-0 regular-season record, the county's Division II championship and to the 4A/3A West Region dual-meet final. The Panthers took second at the Montgomery County tournament, third at the Region II tourney and eighth at the 4A/3A state tournament. Paint Branch also finished first at the Bowie Invitational, second at the Delmarva Classic and fourth at the North Hagerstown's Hub Cup. Smith had 10 wrestlers win 20 or more matches this past winter.
Co-Wrestler of the Year
Tony HowardMagruder, Sr.
160 pounds (39-0)Howard, a repeat Gazette wrestler of the year, had one of the best two-year runs ever by a Montgomery County grappler. The muscular Howard compiled a 67-0 record the past two winters. During that time, he's captured the Big M, Montgomery County, Region II and 4A/3A state tournament titles. Howard, a three-time state title holder, defeated fellow All-Gazette member Frank Edwards of Sherwood in clash of two top wrestlers earlier this season. He finished ranked No. 1 in the Maryland State Wrestling Association final rankings and he won the North Hagerstown Hub Cup 160-pound title.
Co-Wrestler of the Year
Matt PalmerBullis, So.
135 pounds (49-3)After battling a weight increase and a knee injury, Palmer exceeded last year's impressive performance that earned him wrestler of the year honors. The young Bullis wrestler repeated as an Interstate Athletic Conference and Maryland Private School tournament champion. This year, however, Palmer also captured a National Prep title at 135 pounds. He finished second at last year's national tourney at 119 pounds. Palmer was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the state tournament for the second straight year and he finished ranked No. 3 with Einstein's Tim Lowe in the MSWA final rankings.
Antonio WilliamsPaint Branch, Jr.
103 pounds (35-1)Williams was one of the biggest reasons the Panthers won the county's Division II title and compiled a 12-0 record. The junior grappler rolled through his competition, with his only loss coming against Eastern Tech's Trent Dixon in the 4A/3A state final. Williams captured the county and the 4A/3A West Region titles at 103 pounds this past winter. He also won the Bowie Invitational, the Delmarva Classic and the North Hagerstown Hub Cup. The MWSA had Williams ranked No. 4 in its final rankings.
Max MeltzerBullis, So.
103 pounds (52-2)The young Bullis wrestler was good last year as a freshman but he was darn right awesome as a sophomore. To help the Bulldogs in the Interstate Athletic Conference tournament, Meltzer moved up two weight classes (119 pounds) and repeated as a tourney champion. He moved back to his natural weight class (103) and won the Maryland Private School tournament. Meltzer also captured the 103-pound weight class at the National Prep tourney after placing seventh a year ago. Last year, Meltzer finished third at the state tournament. Meltzer defeated the same opponent, Blair Academy's Robbie Preston, in both the final of the prestigious St. Albans Tournament and the National Prep tourney. He finished ranked No. 1 at 103 pounds by the MWSA.
Marc HeincelmanMagruder, Sr.
112 pounds (38-1)Like his teammate Howard, Heincelman finished his high-school career with two strong seasons. In the past two winters, he has compiled a 68-2 record. Heincelman stepped up a weight class this year but still won county and regional titles. He narrowly lost to Chesapeake's Matt Eveleth, 4-3, in the state final. The MWSA No. 3-ranked wrestler also won the Big M Tournament for the second straight season and he captured the 112-pound crown at the North Hagerstown Hub Cup.
Chris EigBullis, So.
112 pounds (35-11)Eig made serious strides under Bullis coach Alex Leiderman this year. The Bulldogs wrestler, a first-time All-Gazette selection, rolled through the competition to the capture the St. Albans, the IAC and the Maryland Private School tournament titles. Eig also won some matches at the National Prep tourney, falling just one victory short of All-American status.
Mark AndersonGaithersburg, Sr.
119 pounds (37-1)Anderson finished an incredible career with his best-ever season. The Gaithersburg grappler didn't start wrestling until his freshman season in order to get stronger for football. Anderson quickly picked up the nuances of the sport and became one of the county's better wrestlers the last three years. This season, the Trojans grappler won the county and regional titles before taking third at the state tournament. Anderson also took first place at the Big M and North Hagerstown Hub Cup tournaments as well as at the Grapple at the Brook. He finished No. 3 in the final MWSA rankings.
Scot Elwood Whitman, Jr.
125 pounds (31-6)Elwood, a first-time All-Gazette selection, had a strong season for Whitman coach Andy Wetzel. He took third at the county tournament but the Vikings grappler bounced back to win the Region II tournament. Elwood won two matches at the 4A/3A state tournament. He defeated Springbrook's Blake Rolen to win the Grapple at the Brook, he took second at the North Hagerstown Hub Cup and he placed sixth at 119 pounds at the Big M Tournament.
Blake RolenSpringbrook, Sr.
125 pounds (25-7)Rolen battled through injuries that limited his number of early matches. He returned to take second at the Grapple at the Brook to earn regional points despite still being hampered by the leg injury. Rolen defeated Elwood in the semifinals of the county tournament before winning the title. He placed second at the Region II tourney. Rolen won one match at states. Last year he compiled a 31-6 record, placed second in the county tourney, first in the region and fourth at states. The two-sport star, who also plays baseball, compiled a 90-23 career record.
Steve BennettDamascus, Jr.
130 pounds (36-7)This Damascus wrestler helped the Hornets win the county tournament title for a record seventh straight time. Bennett took fourth at the county tournament but he rallied to win the Region II title, defeating Paint Branch's Chris Booker, 10-5. Bennett also took fifth place at the 4A/3A state tourney, defeating the same Arundel opponent twice in two days. The hard-working grappler placed third at the prestigious Damascus Holiday and North Hagerstown Hub Cup tournaments.
"He was very basic and very calculated," said Hornets coach Dave Hopkins. "He was relentless."
Tim LoweEinstein, Sr.
135 pounds (37-2)For the first time in his illustrious career, Lowe swept all three championship tournaments. He defeated arch-rival Cade McCarthy of Watkins Mill, 22-8, in the county final and Lowe pinned him in 3:05 in the Region II title match. In the state tournament, Lowe, who won the 2A/1A 130-pound weight class last year, scored a 10-4 decision over McDonough's Jason Kiessling. During the regular season, Lowe also captured the 140-pound title at the Big M Tournament and he placed second in that same weight class in the Damascus Holiday Tournament. He's compiled an impressive 73-4 record the past two years.
Tenoch GomezSherwood, Sr.
140 pounds (33-4)Gomez entered the Montgomery County tournament as a relatively unknown quantity. He left the county tourney as the 140-pound champion, upending Northwest's French Pope, 6-5. He lost an earlier bout with Pope in the Grapple at the Brook tournament. The Sherwood grappler wasn't finished with that title. Gomez then defeated one of the state's best wrestlers, Frederick's Scott Linton, in the Region II final. The score of that match was 4-3 and it ended Linton's unbeaten streak. Gomez also finished third in the both the Damascus Holiday and the Big M tournaments.
T. J. SalbDamascus, Sr.
145 pounds (37-3)Salb finished second to Sherwood's Frank Edwards in the county, regional and state tournaments last year but Edwards moved up to 152 pounds and the Damascus wrestler took advantage of the opportunity. The 145-pound grappler lost to Paint Branch's Adam James in the county tournament but Salb bounced back to pin James (5:12) in the Region II tournament. The Damascus wrestler went on to capture the state title, defeating Old Mill's Dave Hicks, 3-0. Salb placed first at the North Hagerstown Hub Cup and finished second at the Damascus Holiday Tournament, losing a controversial match to Calvert Hall's Kevin King.
"He tried to outslick his opponent and work a lot of unorthodoxed moves he learned through freestyle," Hopkins said. "He is very unpredictable in what he does. He's a crowd pleaser."
The MWSA's final rankings had Salb at No. 3 behind two private-school wrestlers.
Frank EdwardsSherwood, Sr.
152 pounds (35-1)The U.S. Naval Academy-bound Edwards ended a magnificent career with his third straight state title. The Sherwood grappler defeated Franklin's Luke Mays, 8-1, in the 4A/3A state final. Edwards also swept through the county and Region II tournaments this year. He won the regional tourney the past three years and his record the last two years was a combined 68-3. Two of those three losses were against Howard.
"He was just dominating," said Sherwood coach Scott Beattie of Edwards, who finished ranked No. 1 by the MWSA and who took first at the Grapple at the Brook.
Brendan McCarronGaithersburg, So.
171 pounds (36-3)McCarron, as a freshman, was on pace to do some great things, but a nerve injury in his neck and shoulder sidelined him prior to the county tournament. As a sophomore he picked up right where he left off, and then some this past winter. McCarron won the Grapple at the Brook and the North Hagerstown Hub Cup and he took second at the Big M Tournament in the regular season. The Trojans wrestler then swept both the county and Region II tourney's. McCarron, who also plays football, downed Churchill's Mike Yuhaniak in the county final and North Hagerstown's Ryan Romberger in the regional championship. In the state tournament, McCarron upended Lake Clifton's Charles Faulkner, 10-5, to take fifth place.
Tanner CerandBullis, Sr.
189 pounds (53-7)Cerand capped his ever-improving career with his best season yet. The Bullis two-sport start, who also plays football, took second place in the Interstate Athletic Conference tournament during his freshman and sophomore years but the last two seasons he has won IAC titles, including the 189-pound crown this past winter. Last year, Cerand took fifth at the Maryland Private School tournament but this past season he won his weight class. He also improved three spots on last season's National Prep finish, taking fourth place. That finish earned him All-American status for the second straight year. Cerand also finished second at the prestigious St. Albans tournament and he was ranked No. 1 in the final MWSA rankings.
Aaron YochesWhitman, Sr.
189 pounds (30-1)Like Cerand, Yoches was simply unstoppable at 189 pounds this year after battling back from a separated shoulder. The muscular, highly intelligent Yoches blew away the competition in both the county and Region II tournaments. The Whitman grappler pinned Paint Branch's Matt Stewart in both the county and regional tourneys. Yoches defeated his first three 4A/3A state tournament opponents by a combined 19-4 before losing to Chesapeake's Melvin Guthrie 5-4 in the final. That was his only defeat of the season. The MWSA placed Yoches No. 3 in its final 189-pound rankings behind Cerand and Guthrie. In the regular season, Yoches won the 189-pound title at the Grapple at the Brook and at the North Hagerstown Hub Cup.
Warren KlebanChurchill, Sr.
275 pounds (32-3)Kleban had one goal this season and that was to win the county championship at 275 pounds. The Churchill heavyweight grappler not only did that this past winter but he took second at both the Region II and state tournaments. Kleban pinned his way through the county tourney, finishing with a 1:43 pin of Magruder's Matt Rudden. He then won his first two regional matches by forfeit and pin before losing to Frederick's Akil Patterson, 5-1, in the final. At states, Kleban recorded a pin and two decisions before falling to Northeast's Rodney Jones, 9-4, in the championship final. Kleban also won the Big M Tournament.
Jason Cogshell, Einstein, 103 lbs.; Nguyen Bui, Sherwood, 103 lbs.; Chase York, Damascus, 112 lbs.; Isaac Rosenberg, Churchill, 119 lbs.; Steve Hertz, Churchill, 125 lbs.; Ryan Cummings, Sherwood, 130 lbs.; Jeremy Feinberg, Bullis, 135 lbs.; French Pope, Northwest, 140 lbs.; Adam James, Paint Branch, 145 lbs.; Tim Leahey, Georgetown Prep, 145 lbs.; Jeff Edelstein, Blair, 152 lbs.; Steve Suhaka, Damascus, 160 lbs.; J.D. Driscoll, Bullis, 160 lbs.; Kevin Hardwick, Poolesville, 160 lbs.; Austin Flajser, Landon, 171 lbs.; Matt Stewart, Paint Branch, 189 lbs.