As soon as Wednesday’s championship match concluded, a series of 10 other unofficial bouts were underway.
Roughly 20 kids of varying ages all took to the big green wrestling mat in the middle of the Damascus High School gymnasium and began to grapple.
They breed ’em young in Damascus, which is a big part of the secret to Damascus High School’s wrestling success.
On Wednesday night in front of a capacity crowd, the older and more experienced Swarmin’ Hornets won the 4A/3A West Regional Duals with two convincing wins and advanced to Saturday’s state finals at North Point High School.
Top-seeded Damascus beat No. 4 Thomas S. Wootton, 33-30, before topping No. 2 Bethesda-Chevy Chase, 39-30, for the regional title. Neither score was as close as it appears because Damascus forfeited matches at the end of both once the result was secured.
“They came and they represented,” Hornets coach John Furgeson said. “It’s probably going to take a while for this to sink in. But we’ve got to get ready for the state meet.”
The wins improved Damascus’ record to 25-0 (16-0) as they prepare for Saturday’s finals, which begin at noon.
Against B-CC, the Hornets started off shaky with losses in three of their first four matches, but, triggered by 220-pounder George Vinson’s pin of Francis Navas-Ochoa, Damascus reeled off four consecutive falls to seal the outcome. Mikey Macklin’s pin of Matt Zehner at 113 made the result official. Teammate David Creegan came away with a hard-earned pin against Ben Cohen at 106 in the match prior.
“It feels great. We work really hard in the room and our coach has always been telling us that we’re the best-conditioned athletes in the state, so they told us today to just go out there and prove it,” Creegan said.
Prior to the duals, Damascus invited former coach Dave Hopkins to speak in front of the team, as well as former standout wrestlers Eddie Obendorfer and Zeke Gamill.
“The kids wrestled great,” Furgeson said. “I couldn’t believe it. And to do it in front of the home crowd, it couldn’t get any better than that.”
Arguably the most entertaining match of the finals was the 182-pound bout between Caleb Baisden and B-CC’s Jessie McNeill. Both wrestlers took multiple shots and countered frequently in a match McNeill ended up winning, 5-4, on the strength of a third-period escape.
To advance to the finals, B-CC downed defending 4A/3A West Region champion North Hagerstown, a team it lost to earlier this season.
That match came down to the final bout between the Barons’ Sean Cohen and the Hubs’ Dylan Brown. The Barons led by six entering the match and Cohen escaped with a 4-3 victory to seal the 39-30 win. The back-and-forth semifinal match was tipped in the Barons’ favor when Matt Zehner pinned Forrest Williams at 113 to give the Barons a 33-30 lead.
“We didn’t wrestle real well against North Hagerstown. They were on fire and they took it to us,” Barons coach Nick Arnone said. “But we just continued the trend of people stepping up for us like we have all season.”
Wootton entered the day as the fourth seed and fell to Damascus in the opening round, but Ralph Bernardo was impressive in handling Vinson at 220 and 132-pounder Stavros Tzamaras took care of Cory Obendorfer, 5-2.
“I think there was some good and there was some bad,” Patriots coach Kevin O’Neill said. “We had a lot of close matches the last time we faced them, but this time we didn’t get all the matchups we wanted.”
4A/3A West Regional Duals
Damascus 39, Bethesda-Chevy Chase 30
138: Charlie Banaszak (B-CC) d. Owen Brooks (D), 8-1
145: Alex Gama (B-CC) d. Jack Creegan (D), 13-7
152: Johnny Fischer (D) f. Sufyan Madyun (B-CC), 1:24
160: Brendan Cowie (B-CC) d. Ari Cacopardo (D), 11-4
170: Logan Brooks (D) f. Sam Loman (B-CC), 1:32
182: Jessie McNeill (B-CC) d. Caleb Baisden (D), 5-4
195: Michael Scafate (D) d. Gustavo Medrano (B-CC), 8-2
220: George Vinson (D) f. Francis Navas-Ochoa (B-CC), 0:40
285: Andrew Nickell (D) f. Robert Bridenhagan (B-CC), 1:00
106: David Creegan (D) f. Ben Cohen (B-CC), 5:07
113: Mikey Macklin (D) f. Matt Zehner (B-CC), 1:22
120: Jack Banaszak (B-CC) win by forfeit
126: Sean Cohen (B-CC) win by forfeit
132: Will Witkop (B-CC) win by forfeit
Damascus 33, Thomas S. Wootton 30
132: Stavros Tzamaras (W) d. Cory Obendorfer (D), 5-2
138: Owen Brooks (D) tech. f. Loryn Chen (W), 17-2
145: Jack Creegan (D) d. Garrett Ruderman (W), 5-4
152: Johnny Fischer (D) f. Joshua Hollman (W), 3:56
160: Ari Cacopardo (D) f. Jay Carroll (W), 3:33
170: Stephen Potemken (W) d. Logan Brooks (D), 2-0
182: Caleb Baisden (D) m.d. Chen Han (W), 11-3
195: Michael Scafate (D) d. Andreas Restrepo (W), 10-4
220: Ralph Bernardo (W) d. George Vinson (D), 7-0
285: Josh Strauss (W) d. Andrew Nickell (D), 3-0
106: David Creegan (D) f. Jack Cohen (W)
113: Austin Tritto (W) win by forfeit
120: Logan Tritto (W) win by forfeit
126: Ruhal Dharmavatatha (W) win by forfeit
Bethesda-Chevy Chase 39, North Hagerstown 30
132: Gene Balcita (NH) f. Will Witkop (B-CC), 5:16
138: Brendon Colbert (NH) f. Rahim Leys (B-CC), 0:50
145: Charlie Banaszak (B-CC) f. Diantra Landry (NH), 4:20
152: Alex Gama (B-CC) (NH) d. Coleman McHose (NH), 5-3
160: Brendan Cowie (B-CC) m.d. Ray Montes (NH), 12-2
170: JD McKoy (NH) f. Sam Loman (B-CC), 2:47
182: Jessie McNeill (B-CC) t.f. Amont Hawkins (NH), 2:46
195: Antonio Rosario (NH) f. Gustavo Medrano (B-CC), 1:27
220: Aaron Dopson (NH) f. Francis Navas-Ochoa (B-CC), 1:04
285: Robert Bridenhagan (B-CC) f. Kahlil Harris-Williams (NH), DQ
106: Ben Cohen (B-CC) d. Mike Tobery (NH), 3-2
113: Matt Zehner (B-CC) f. Forrest Williams (NH), 2:47
120: Jack Banaszak (B-CC) d. Collin Edward (NH), 5-0
126: Sean Cohen (B-CC) d. Dylan Brown (NH), 4-3