While some wrestlers perform elaborate arm motions or yell and scream upon winning, both of Frederick County’s state wrestling champions displayed grace and reservation as they captured their first titles.
Tuscarora High School senior Austin Wenzlaff (160 pounds) and Middletown senior Judd Ziegler (182) both won state titles at Saturday’s Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state wrestling championships at the University of Maryland-College Park’s Cole Field House.
Wenzlaff completed his remarkable career with a 12-2 victory against Brad Taylor (Walt Whitman) and dominated the 4A/3A field en route to the championship.
In fact, he dominated the season as well.
Wenzlaff (45-0) finished an undefeated season and high school career with 157 wins — one shy of the county record — and 89 pins. This season, he didn’t win a single match by regular decision, earning bonus points in every bout.
“The emotion right now is unlike any other I’ve had,” Wenzlaff said, his eyes welling up with tears. “I thought about winning all my matches by more than a decision even in the final match. I knew I wanted to win by at least eight.”
Despite a lanky frame that doesn’t scream “wrestler,” Wenzlaff systematically picked apart his four opponents en route to the title. After winning, he jumped the black metal rail along the side wall and bear-hugged his father, Tim, a longtime wrestling coach.
“It’s a very fitting end to his tremendous career,” said Tuscarora coach T.J. Salb.
Tuscarora sent two other wrestlers to the finals, both of whom finished second as the Titans ended up in fourth place in the 4A/3A team standings with 70.5 points. Urbana finished one spot ahead with 72.
In the 113-pound final, sophomore Anthoney Savage’s undefeated season came to an end against North County’s Brant Leadbeter with a 5-4 loss.
Midway through the first period, Leadbeter nearly stuck Savage (39-1), but he managed to escape and end the period trailing 4-2. In the second period, Savage began with an escape to make it 4-3. Leadbeter recorded an escape from the bottom position to begin the third period, and Savage attempted to shoot multiple times in the final 30 seconds of the match, but couldn’t pull off a takedown.
Leadbeter was called for stalling with two seconds remaining, but it wasn’t enough for Savage, who threw his headgear and collapsed to the mat after the buzzer sounded.
In the 152-pound final, Tuscarora’s Matt Wax faced a tall task going up against defending state champion, LaPlata sophomore Josh Llopez. Wax attacked Llopez fearlessly, but was no match for the talented sophomore, who scored a 19-3 tech fall.
“We’re happy with the results, but you always strive for more,” Salb said. “For some people, losing in the state finals can break them. For some people it will make them 10 times stronger.”
In the 2A/1A division, Middletown completed a strong season by sending three wrestlers to the state finals and finished with one champion. The Knights placed third as a team with 78.5 points. Ziegler’s victory came against South Carroll’s Steven Schmitz, 7-2. Ziegler dominated his way to the state tile, pinning all three of his pre-championship opponents in a combined time of 6:05.
In the finals, Ziegler took a 2-0 lead into the second period by virtue of a takedown and recorded another takedown early in the second period to go up 4-0. He displayed his remarkable strength by holding Schmitz down for roughly 1:30 in the second period.
In the third, Ziegler, who also won a state championship with Middletown’s football team, recorded another takedown for good measure.
“It feels like the job is finally accomplished,” Ziegler said. “I didn’t want to take any chances because [Schmitz] was a great wrestler.”
Upon winning, he showed little emotion, barely cracking a smile as the official raised Ziegler’s right hand above his head.
“My coach always tells us to act like we’ve been there before whether we win or lose. Then after you get off the mat, you can celebrate,” Ziegler said.
Ziegler has been accepted to Princeton and plans to wrestle there next season.
“It’s a reflection of all the hard work he has done,” said Middletown coach Jim Schartner. “He started training this time last year after he couldn’t compete in the state finals and hasn’t stopped since.”
The undefeated senior battled a broken leg and a skin infection as a junior and finished his final high school year with a perfect record of 46-0 and amassed 155 career wins.
At 132, Middletown’s Matt Capobianco lost to Fallston’s Zach Cullison, 6-5, for a second-place finish. He entered the third period trailing, 6-2, and scored three points to make it close, but Cullison hung on for the victory.
In the 170-pound final, Dylan Herrmann lost to South Carroll’s Willie Reiters, 8-2. Herrmann and Reiters finished the first period scoreless before Reiters scored seven points in the second period. In the third period, Herrmann, who has a shoulder-length tribal tattoo on his right arm, began on top and held Reiters down for 35 seconds before he escaped to make it 8-0. Reiters played solid defense after that, allowing a reversal in the final five seconds, but hanging on to win. Herrmann won his first three matches by a combined score of 10-2.
“Iron sharpens iron,” Schartner said. “They see what Judd does in the room and it helps them work even harder. [Saturday], the guys worked hard for all six minutes of their matches.”
In the 4A/3A 182-pound final, Walter Johnson’s Elad Covaliu was the aggressor against Urbana’s Joe Rimel and beat the powerful senior, 9-5.
Covaliu led Rimel, 5-3, entering the third period and Rimel escaped from the bottom position to make it 5-4. Following the escape, however, Covaliu took down Rimel in an awkward moment. It appeared Rimel thought the two were out of bounds and turned his back to Covaliu. There was no whistle, however, and Covaliu ran at Rimel and took him down. Following that mistake, Rimel appeared out of sorts in the last two minutes. Covaliu, a senior, recorded another takedown in the final seconds to secure his first state title.
Rimel, who had tears in his eyes following the match, ended his high school career with a record of 146-28 and went 47-2 in 2012.
In the consolation brackets, previously-undefeated Urbana freshman Morgan Way (106) finished in third place. Way was upset in the semifinals, 2-1, by Wallace Smith (Thomas Stone) but bounced back to beat LaPlata’s Marty Margolis, 3-2, in his final match of the season.
Urbana’s Nick Frank, who shockingly lost Friday night in the quarterfinals, finished in third place after beating Wilde Lake’s Malik Jackson, 3-1.
Catoctin ended up with three wrestlers who placed out of the consolation bracket. Freshman Garrett Buckley (106) claimed third with a 3-0 victory against Winters Mill’s Flavio Valdez-Cortez. Catoctin 126-pounder Charlie Perella finished in fourth place after losing to Patuxent’s Zack Pilkington, 11-0. Also placing fourth for Catoctin’s was 152-pounder Collin Schildt, who lost to Jemson Villard (Wicomico), 8-6.
Poolesville’s Robert Winning took third place in the 160-pound weight class by beating Wimcomico’s Marshal Chang, 6-5.
Linganore’s Chad Ellis ended up in fourth after losing to North County’s Eric Hoffman in the 145-pound consolation bout, 10-4.