Top­ping the podium

SMR wrestling sea­son caps off with Wal­dorf res­i­dent San­doval’s 3rd-straight state ti­tle, 2nd-place fin­ish in na­tion at Na­tional Preps tour­ney

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TAMMY SHOWALTER tshowal­ter@somd­news.com

It was a re­mark­able sea­son for the St. Mary’s Ryken Knights wrestling team.

The Knights had a 30-win cam­paign dur­ing the dual meet sea­son and a third­place fin­ish, the pro­gram’s best ever, at the Wash­ing- ton Catholic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence tour­na­ment.

The ac­co­lades con­tin­ued at Mary­land In­de­pen­dent States tour­na­ment Feb. 18 at Har­ford Com- mu­nity Col­lege in Bel Air as ju­nior King San­doval cap­tured his third straight state ti­tle.

San­doval, a Wal­dorf res­i­dent who wres­tles at 120 pounds, de­feated Arch­bishop Spald­ing’s Paul Trun­tich in the fi­nal, a 6-2 de­ci­sion.

Grady Hotz (132), from Leonard­town, fin­ished sev­enth. He won the sev- enth-place match by a 4-3 three-over­time de­ci­sion over Josh Ay­bar of Loy­ola Blake­field. Hotz’s fi­nal record was 62-12.

“I will al­ways re­mem­ber the bond we had as a team and as coaches and how we were so close, closer than any other team I’ve ever been on,” Hotz said.

Ernie Sig­mon (182), from Me­chan­icsville, took fifth over­all with a 10-4 vic­tory over Drew Brenowitz of Good Coun­sel and fin­ished 50-9 over- all this sea­son.

San­doval said the game plan com­ing into the state fi­nals was to keep mov­ing no mat­ter what hap­pened.

“That’s some­thing that re­ally helped me com­ing into the fi­nals,” he said. “I’ve faced Trun­tich be­fore and we have gone back and forth on wins through the past cou­ple years. He’s a very tough op­po­nent and I knew in or­der to win I couldn’t make any mis­takes or er- rors and had to just keep mov­ing.”

San­doval added that SMR head coach Vince Whit­tles and as­sis­tant coaches Josh Llopez, John Donato and Steve Cannon al­ways ex­press the im­por­tance of in­creas­ing ones pace as the match pro­gresses.

“I can thank my coaches for that be­cause they’ve been train­ing me to not only keep my pace go­ing dur­ing a match, but to also have it last even past the end of the third peri- od,” he sad. “Keep­ing my mo­tion go­ing at all costs was a key as­pect in win- ning in the fi­nals, keep the op­po­nent de­fend­ing you and not the other way around. You can al­ways stop some­one’s of­fense with your own.”

The fol­low­ing week­end, San­doval and Sig­mon took part in the Na­tional Preps tour­na­ment at Le­high Uni­ver­sity in Beth­le­hem, Pa.

Sig­mon went 2-2. He was pinned by Ju­dah Duhm of McCal­lie (Tenn.) in 3:53, won with a pin over Atoy Smith of St. Bene­dict’s (N.J.) in 3:53. He de­feat- ed Brady Wor­thing­ton of Blair (N.J.) by 3-1 de­ci­sion and was elim­i­nated from com­pe­ti­tion af­ter be­ing pinned by Wil­liam Roe- shot of Kiski (Pa.) in 1:26.

San­doval ended up fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the na- tion at 120.

He had four straight vic­to­ries head­ing into the fi­nal hav­ing pinned Matthew Cuomo of Choate Rose­mary (Conn.) in 1 minute 39 sec­onds, de­feated Pa­trick Cole of Paul VI (Va.) by tech­ni­cal fall, 15-0, de­feated Gabriel Elker of MBA (Tenn.) by a 6-4 de­ci­sion and de­feated Michael Madara of Blair (N.J.) in the semi­fi­nals in a 3-1 de­ci­sion.

San­doval came up against Beau Bar­lett of Wy­oming Sem­i­nary (Pa.) and lost in a 6-2 de­ci­sion. His record fin­ished at 63-7.

“My goals this year were to win states, and na­tional preps, but I came up a lit- tle short for that [na­tional preps],” San­doval said. “That will be my same goal for next year and that will be my last shot at win­ning the ti­tle for my­self [in high school]. It feels pretty good to be num- ber one in the state again. There was a lot of stuff I needed to clean up with my tech­nique dur­ing the course of the sea­son.”

San­doval ad­mit­ted he feared win­ning it all.

“At first com­ing into the na­tional prep tour­na­ment I was very ner­vous,” he said. “Not about los­ing any match in par­tic­u­lar, but of what I was ca­pa­ble of re­gard­ing win­ning the whole tour­na­ment. It was the thought of suc­cess that fright­ened me most com­ing in, and that al­ways has been the case when I come into a very hard com­pe­ti­tion of this sort.”

Iron­i­cally, it is his “light” in the sport that fright­ens San­doval the most, not know­ing what he’s ca­pa­ble of do­ing.

“Through the tour­na­ment I only fo­cused on the next match that I had in front of me so I wouldn’t get too wor­ried about the tour­na­ment al­to­gether,” San­doval said. “I only fo­cused on win­ning the match that I had in the cur­rent round, and that mind­set re­ally got me through the whole tour­na­ment. Al­though I came up short in the fi­nals it was still an amaz­ing feel­ing to make it all the way and be­come an All-Amer­i­can again. My semi­fi­nals match was one that specif­i­cally chal­lenged me the most for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons.

“I was seeded be­low my op­po­nent be­cause he had beaten many peo­ple that I have lost to, and he had placed higher than me at other na­tional events lead­ing up to the na­tional prep tourna- ment. I didn’t let any of that get to my mind when wrestling him, and only thought of the pos­i­tive that could come out. My dad [Car­los] has been telling me since back in De­cem­ber that the Blair Academy guy was who I was gonna have in the semi­fi­nals, and we have been pre­par­ing dras­ti­cally for when the day came. Thanks to him, my coaches, and team­mates I was able to win and make it to the fi­nals for the first time.”

San­doval said af­ter the fi­nals loss, he was al­ready think­ing of his se­nior year.

“With the help of my coaches I think I can achieve this goal.” he said. “Al­though we still have a lot of youth on the team, we still strive to progress as much as we can, not only as in­di­vid­ual wrestlers, but as a fam­ily all to­gether. Com­ing back next year, the ma­jor­ity of the team will be se­niors so there’s a great deal of hope that next year will be the best team that Ryken has ever had in the his­tor y of wrestling.

“I hope that next year ev­ery­one can have the chance to place at states, and pos­si­bly make it to na­tional preps. I know this goal is very far fetched from what we ac­com­plished this year, but through it all, I know we can do it if we put our minds to it.”

San­doval said he will now start train­ing for the freestyle and Greco-Ro­man styles.

“I’m pre­par­ing this sum­mer for Ju­nior Na­tion­als up in Fargo, North Dakota and I can’t wait to see what next sea­son has to of­fer for me,” he said.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

St. Mary’s Ryken ju­nior wrestler and Wal­dorf res­i­dent King San­doval, top mid­dle, re­ceives his first-place hon­ors at the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent Schools state tour­na­ment Feb. 18. San­doval, now a three-time state cham­pion who also fin­ished sec­ond in the na­tion at Na­tional Preps, said he is aim­ing for the same next sea­son.

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