In a match that offered a bevy of twists, turns and momentum swings, the Damascus High School wrestling team won the Class 4A/3A state dual meet tournament title by the narrowest of margins Wednesday, edging North Hagerstown 30-29 at North Point in Waldorf.
Damascus arrived as the defending champion and the prohibitive favorite to repeat, but the Swarmin' Hornets found themselves in a fight with the Hubs. Damascus owned a brief early lead, but North Hagerstown responded to take a 22-12 at one point and that left several Swarmin' Hornets facing must-win situations.
In fact, Damascus would get its three most pivotal wins from its lightest wrestlers. Scott Obendorfer (106 pounds) won his match via a first period pin to bring the Swarmin' Hornets within 22-18. Mikey Macklin (113) followed with a first period pin that gave Damascus a 24-22 lead and David Creegan (120) then pinned his Hubs' foe in the second period to give the Swarmin' Hornets a 30-22 lead with only two matches remaining.
“All three of those really came through for us again tonight,” said Damascus coach John Furgeson. “We knew we had a chance to turn things around with those guys coming up. Then we just needed our last two wrestlers [Brendan Parent, 126, and Michael Wilkerson, 132] not to get pinned. In fact, we just told Michael right before his match, 'stay low and don't get pinned.'”
Parent lost a 10-7 decision to North Hagerstown's Isaiah Brooks, but that was an acceptable outcome for Damascus since it left them with a 30-25 lead heading into the final match. When Wilkerson headed onto the mat to face the Hubs' Hunter Faith, he did not need to win the match but only to avoid getting pinned in order for the Swarmin' Hornets to preserve their overall lead.
“Coach told me not to get pinned,” said Wilkerson, who eventually lost a 10-2 decision to Faith and was nearly pinned on two different occasions. “That was not the way I wanted to go into the match, but everyone knew the situation. We both have similar styles. I just wanted to stay on my feet. That was probably the happiest that I ever felt about losing.”
Cory Obendorfer (138) and Owen Brooks (145) gave the Swarmin' Hornets the early lead when each posted decision victories. But the Hubs were not about to go away quietly. North Hagerstown's Connor Almoney (152) edged Damascus's Colin McLaughlin, 7-6, to get the Hubs on the board, but wins by Johnny Fischer (170) and Logan Brooks (182) kept Damascus narrowly in front, 15-12.
“It's always great to start off the match with a win,” Cory Obendorfer said. “We knew it was going to be close. When we fell behind, our younger guys really stepped up and came through for us. Then going into that last match with Michael it was definitely nerve-racking. He doesn't like to lose, so it was tough for him to go out there and just wrestle not to get pinned. It changed his whole approach.”
North Hagerstown erased the narrow deficit when J.D. McKoy (195) pinned Ari Cacopardo, then Michael Bradshaw (220) lost a 3-1 decision. Lane Hunt, normally the 220-pound wrestler, was no match for Hubs' heavyweight Aaron Dopson in a 10-0 setback. But Hunt avoided being pinned, fighting through the last 45 seconds with Dopson clearly in control.
In the semifinals, Damascus edged River Hill, 34-33, but it was never in doubt. The Swarmin' Hornets led 34-15 with three matches remaining and then opted to forfeit those three weight classes rather than force that trio of wrestlers to endure unnecessary stress or risk injury.
North Hagerstown defeated Huntingtown, 43-34, in its semifinal, but that match was also over early. The Hubs owned a commanding 43-4 lead with five matches left and opted to forfeit.