Shooting for More
Colonel takes aim at first regional duals berth; Bentley, Bauer, Gabriel, Blanchard eye state titles
Stephen Decatur High’s wrestling team may not be touched this season.
The loaded Seahawks figure to go unbeaten against its Bayside Conference brethren, and, barring injury, look to be a heavy favorite to win their second Bayside tournament title in three years.
That’s not to say the conference’s northern half plans on quietly going through the motions this winter.
North Caroline’s Ryan Bauer, Easton’s Maximus Bentley, Kent Island’s Hadyn Blanchard and Colonel Richardson’s Jordan Gabriel should again make strong bids for state titles come March. And North Caroline, Kent Island and Queen Anne’s County should again push for berths in the Class 2A East Region Dual-Meet tournament.
Then there’s Colonel Richardson.
In addition to Gabriel vying to improve on his fourth-place finish at states last season, Bryan Hall enters his seventh season as head coach with a team that has the goods to challenge for the school’s first trip to the 1A East Dual-Meet tournament.
“We should have qualified for it last year,” said Hall of a team that forfeited two wins because of a paperwork snafu that left Colonel’s record at 7-7, one spot shy of qualifying for the 1A East duals. “Last year we wanted to get in. And I’m fairly certain that if we got in we would have won it.”
Optimism on the mats appears higher than ever before in American Corner this season. The Colonels won the annual season-opening Andy Perez Memorial Tournament for the first time two weeks ago, with Brandon Draper (126 pounds) and Gabriel
(195) going unbeaten to win their respective weight classes.
“I think it’s going to give our kids a lot of confidence,” Hall said of the tourney win. “The big thing with the tournament was we had all 13 people in the lineup. I think everybody else was forfeiting four to six spots.”
The Colonels should fill every weight class, though they may not have a set lineup until after the Christmas break. Over the past three seasons, Hall has watched his program steadily improve, going from three wins, to five, to last season’s 7-7 slate.
Hall isn’t predicting an upset of Decatur, or some of the conference’s other perennial heavyweights. But Jordan Gabriel and Brandon Draper, together with Zach Draper, Brandon Jester, Samson Opher — who each went 7-2 at the Perez tournament — Mason Lambert, Troy Rose, Jorselen Gabriel, Austin Spies and Ryan Stanton give Colonel a solid core, which could gain added strength as a group of promising-looking freshmen develop.
“We wrestled really well,” Hall said of his team’s performance at the Perez tournament. “I think our younger guys grew a lot. We had four freshmen in the lineup and each one of them got better as the tournament went on. So we’re excited.”
That excitement could remain in Colonel’s corner through the regular and postseason.
Here’s a look at this season’s teams:
Cambridge-SD Head Coach: Jesse Morris, 3rd season.
Who’s Where: 106: Dazheem Emory (Jr.); 113: David Willis (Fr.); 120: Nick Corkran (Jr.); 126: Trejan King (Jr.); 132: Dawson Betts (Sr.); 138: Max Marshall (Fr.); 152: Javont Rolle (So.); 160: Camren Lake (Jr.); 170: Tyler Stewart (Jr.); 182: Dylan Cameron (Jr.); 195: Joe Pike (Sr.); 285: Devan Lankford (Sr.).
Outlook: “I don’t think we’re going to be a huge competitor in the dual-meet season,” Morris said. “But I think on an individual basis, we’ll do rather well into the postseason.”
That group of individuals includes Stewart, who won the 170-pound weight class at the Perez tournament, Emory — a returning state qualifier — Betts, and Lake, who each went 8-1 at Perez.
“We have a significantly larger amount of kids, but only one returning senior,” Morris said. “It’s going to be tough. My juniors are basically leading the team right now.”
Colonel Richardson Head Coach: Bryan Hall, 7th season.
Who’s Where: 106: Jorselen Gabriel (Fr.); 113: Marclee Duvelcint (Fr.); 120: Sam Souil (Fr.); 126: Brandon Draper (Sr.); 132: Zach Draper (So.); 138: Daniel McKernan (Jr.); 145: Ryan Stanton (Sr.); 152: Brandon Jester (Sr.); 160: Mason Lambert (Jr.); Austin Spies (So.); 170: Troy Rose (Jr.); 182: Samson Opher (Sr.); 195: Jordan Gabriel (195); 220: Lesly Fleurissaint (Fr.); 285: Matt Barrow (Jr.).
Outlook: Jordan Gabriel set a school single-season record for victories with his 41-4 mark last season, became Colonel’s first regional champion, and went where no Colonel had ever gone before with his fourthplace finish at states.
The Colonels could add to that list of firsts this season with a lineup that has the potential to earn the program its first berth in the regional duals. In addition to a solid core and a full lineup, Hall likes the athleticism from a freshmen cast that with continued development could provided an added boost.
Easton Head Coach: Jason Biringer, 13th season.
Who’s Where: 106: Jon Bolainez (So.); 113: Steven Broad (So.); 120: Zack Gonzalez (Fr.); 126: Elizabeth Wilmer (Fr.); 132: Max Bentley (Jr.); 138: E.J. Milhollan (So.); 145: Mike Beakley (Fr.); 152: Mason Odenwald (Jr.); 160: Seth Feldman (Sr.); 170: Charlie Mueller (So.); 182: Jeremiah Gardner (Sr.); 195: David Ludwig (Fr.); 220: Luis Bojorquez (Fr.); 285: Darius Sar vis (Sr.).
Outlook: Bentley went 28-3 last season and has the look of a wrestler determined to improve on a sixthplace finish at states.
“Bentley definitely has his sights set for placing higher than he did last year,” Biringer said of his two-time regional champion. “He’s very focused and has been practicing a lot offseason as well.”
State-qualifier Camden Harrison transferred back to St. Michaels, but Gardner could contend for a state berth. That may be it though in terms of state qualifiers, considering this is the youngest team Biringer has fielded in his 13 seasons as head coach.
“We do have a lot of athletic kids, but we’re definitely very young,” Biringer said.
Kent County Head Coach: Chris Yiannakis, 1st season.
Who’s Where: 113: Aron Ashley-Pinder (Fr.); 126: Hanna Beattie (Fr.); 132: Gabe Yiannakis (So.); 138: Kevin Mallory (So.); 145: Shane Moore (So.); 152: Will Ashmore (So.); 160: Jon Conner (So.); 171: Kregg Walton (Jr.); 182: Kolby Walters (Jr.); 195: Brandon Crouch (Jr.); 220: Kyle Martinez (So.); 285: Rick Townsend (Fr.).
Outlook: A 1998 graduate of Kent County, Yiannakis begins his first season as head coach on the high school level, and arrives with 11 years under his belt coaching Kent County’s junior program. Plagued by forfeits in recent seasons, the Trojans appear to have someone in all 14 weight classes, including Ashmore, who won the 160-pound title at the Perez tournament.
One of Coach Yiannakis’ objectives is to develop, and “not get stomped every time we step on the mat.” With victories over Snow Hill and North Dorchester, the Trojans have already surpassed their win total from last season.
Head Coach: Tommy Sitar, 4th season.
Who’s Where: 106: Collin Edds (Fr.); 113: Jacob Bowman (Fr.); 120: Jack Mulligan (Fr.); 126: Cameron Faulkner (Fr.); 132: Garrett Griebel (Fr.); 138: Matthew Miller (Jr.); 145: Douglas Alvarez (Jr.); 152: Peter Connor (Sr.); 160: Jared Silva (Sr.); 170: Randy Main (So.); 182: Joey Bunce (Sr.); 195: Max Tate (Sr.); 220: Hadyn Blanchard (Jr.); 285: Grayson Colchagoff (Sr.).
Outlook: State-qualifiers Dylan Finlay, Nick Leisenring and Jake Hipps are gone, but apparently so are the forfeits that plagued the Bucs, who surrendered as many as 18 to 24 points between 106 and 126 last season. That doesn’t appear to be a problem this early season, with a strong looking freshman class filling the lightweight ranks.
“They work hard; they keep the intensity up in practice,” Sitar said. “I’m sure they’ll keep their nose to the grindstone and keep working hard.”
Blanchard (15-6) came back from an early season injury to place fourth at states at 220 and hopes to go a few steps further this season. Bunce (31-11) is also back with plans for a return trip to states, while helping the Bucs qualify for the 2A East duals.
“We’re looking at qualifying for regional duals and those are kind of our goals,” said Sitar, who’s is hoping trips to the South River Duals, the New Year’s Brawl at Easton, and the always challenging War on the Shore at Decatur ready his team for the postseason.
“It’s awesome to go to a tournament that’s harder than your state tournament,” Sitar said of War of the Shore.
North Caroline Head Coach: Tim Frey, 33rd season.
Who’s Where: 120: Carlos Fuentes (Jr.); 126: Wesley Brockson (Fr.); 132: Reilly McIntyre (Jr.); 138: Ryan Bauer (Sr.); 145: Rhian Silsley (Jr.); 152: Camden Constantine (So.); Dakota Walton (So.); 160: T.J. Bunce (Fr.); 170: Trenton Hillard (Jr.); 182: Lewis Stutzman (Jr.); 195: Martin Rivera (Sr.); 220: Nassir Ross (Jr.); Chris Clarke (Fr.); Jarrett Cooper (Sr.).
Outlook: Tyler Bauer, the school’s only two-time state champion, and state qualifiers Seth Layton, Cody Holder, Noah Schall and Alex Grabel graduated from a team that went 16-1 last season before falling in the semifinals of the 2A state dual-meet tournament. Also gone is Tyler Riley, who logged over 100 career wins, but missed states.
The Bulldogs do return five state qualifiers — McIntyre (40-8), Ryan Bauer (43-5) — the state runnerup at 120 and a three-time regional champion — Silsley (39-11), Hillard (32-13) and Rivera (26-19), but a potential sixth consecutive 2A East Dual-Meet title has not even been discussed.
“I have experience and I have youth. I have the two extremes,” said Frey, who reached the 400-win milestone last season. “It’s almost like we’re doing two practices sometimes; well, at the beginning we were. We’re going to get better as the year goes on, but it’s going to be tough here at the beginning; just learning how to do anything.”
Despite a fifth-place finish and having only a 10-man lineup, Frey was pleased with what he saw at the Perez tournament. But forfeits in the lower weights figure to have Frey and assistants Robin Eaton, Daryl Silsley, Keith Bauer and Wayne Brockson spending a lot of time plotting matchups.
North Dorchester Head Coach: Justin Hoffman, 2nd season.
Who’s Where: 103: Ledger Bates (So.); 152-60: Hunter Cale (So.); Cody Olson (Sr.).
Outlook: Mizell Cooper, the regional champion at 152 who suffered a broken leg at states last year, has graduated.
Hoffman thinks he should be able to fill most of the weight classes, and sees Bates potentially challenging for a regional and state berth, along with possibly Cale, a transfer from Cambridge-SD.
Queen Anne’s Coach: David Stricker, 4th season.
Who’s Where: 106: Logan Unkart (Fr.); 113: Michael Corder (So.); 120: Pete Lemmons (So.); 126: Aaron Pickett (So.); 132: Hunter Charles (Jr.); 138: Eric Smith (Jr.); 145: Isaac Murdoch (Sr.); 152: Jacob Westfall (Jr.); 160: Chase Woodall (Fr.); 170: Ian Weingaertner (So.); 22: Sean Blackwell (So.); 285: Angelo Moore (Sr.).
Outlook: With region champions Lemmons (364) and Smith (30-6) back, along with fellow state qualifiers Moore (25-9) and Charles (in 2017), Stricker thought the Lions had a chance to improve on last season’s 12-4 slate, which ended in the finals of the 2A East duals. But potential forfeits could spoil those plans.
“I was really looking to kind of take the next step since we’ve got a lot of kids returning,” Stricker said. “But without filling the full lineup we’re kind of in the same boat we were last year. I think we’ll beat the teams we’re supposed to beat, but we hit like a Parkside and Caroline, solid, full lineups, and it’s going to be pretty tough for us.”
Queen Anne’s learned that with last Wednesday’s season-opening loss to North Caroline, which Stricker hoped proved something else to his team.
“We’ve been preaching practicing right,” Stricker said. “Being a good practice partner and drilling the correct way and I think (the Caroline match) kind of helped turn on the lightbulb for some of our new guys because we’re so young. We’ve got to drill hard and do it right in practice so that way it shows up in the match. You can’t just tr y and flip the switch in a match.”
St. Michaels Head Coach: Sean McCrea, 1st season.
Who’s Where: 113: Tae Gowe (So.); 120: Andre Setter (So.); 126: Chris Guiterrez (Sr.); 132: Cole Johnson (Sr.); 138: Camden Harrison (Sr.); 145: Keenan Assan (So.); 152: Nick Ball (Jr.); 160: Chandler Dyott (Fr.); 170: C.J. Howland (Jr.); 195: Michael Disilvestro (Jr.); Jeremy Patchett (So.).
Outlook: A 1994 graduate of St. Michaels, McCrea goes from three-year assistant to first-year head coach, taking over for King Hill, who stepped down after last season.
State-qualifier Harrison (24-14) is back from Easton and should again contend for another state berth. Forfeits will hurt, but McCrea and assistants Beau Harrison — Camden’s older brother — Stevie Mister and Chris Fish, all former wrestlers, will focus on rebuilding.
“We’ve got a lot of freshmen in, first-year wrestlers,” McCrea said. “We’re just looking forward to building that up.”
Cambridge-South Dorchester’s Tyler Stewart, left, sizes up North Dorchester’s Cody Olson in amatch last season.