SMR prepares for wrestling season with new coach
Knights prepare for new season with new head coach
Down a few key weight classes early in the season is something that might scare a rookie wrestling coach, but it doesn’t phase St. Mary’s Ryken first-year head coach Philip Brown.
Brown, a former Montgomery County police officer, will be starting his first year with the Knights following in the footsteps of former St. Mary’s Ryken head coach Vince Whittles who called last season his final before retirement.
Brown is an accomplished assistant wrestling coach, although this will be his first year as the head of a program. He spent stints as an assistant coach at Oakland Mills High
School in Howard County, as well as Sherwood and Damascus and Good Counsel high schools in Montgomery County before spending the past two season at Glenelg High School in Howard County.
At Good Counsel, Brown sent two teams to win the state private schools tournament and had a couple of wrestlers go off each year to wrestle in college. At Glenelg last year, Brown’s team finished among the best in the state.
“I just want to have a committed program,” he said. “My expectations coming in are to win. I want to win the conference, the states, and eventually the national preps. My philosophy is hard work and
to outwork everyone else. We did a lot of weight training and preseason training. We also drilled a lot of technique.”
Returning senior wrestlers, like 160-pounder Gunnar Brodfuehrer, are also excited for a new year of wrestling to begin, entering the season with high hopes.
“Last year I had a pretty decent season,” Brodfuehrer said. “I did all right in the conference and placed at states, but not as good as I hoped. This year, we hope to come back and win the conference, the WCAC’s and go on to place at states, and then make our way to national preps. We are excited. Coach Brown is great, he has a lot of experience. We got a lot of good guys, and it’s going to be a very promising year.”
The Knights are looking forward to a fresh charge of lead-
ership under Brown.
“Last year it was pretty tough and there were a lot of good kids in my weight class, but I think I’ll stack up pretty well,” Brodfuehrer said. “It’s good having a new coach, it’s a little different dynamic but it’s definitely good.”
Brown may be new to coaching in Southern Maryland, but he is a seasoned veteran wrestling coach with multiple state championships under his belt from different programs that he assisted in coaching to victory. And he has a certain expectations that he wants his wrestlers to meet.
“I think we will have some kids who will place high individually and do well. As a team it is going to be very difficult,” said Brown. “I have a few wrestlers that I’m excited about. I have a 106-pounder, sophomore Chris Albo, who
is a transfer from Great Mills. And I have Koda DeAtley, he’s a freshman and he did very well in junior league. Evan Eldridge, also a freshman, Blake Jury is a junior transfer and returning state champion from Huntingtown at 126.
“Rodney Jefferson is going to be 132, he is a previous year transfer from DeMatha. Alex Figueiras is a senior who did well last year at 138. Sam Smirnoff is another one at 145. Smirnoff was a runner-up at the private school states and a transfer from Archbishop Spalding. Judge Aldridge is a senior who has been here all four years. We don’t have a 152, he’s actually a 145, so these two will trade. Gunner Brodfuehrer should do well, he’s a senior at 160. Trent Greer will do well at 170. And Zeke Gayle is our big guy at 182. He’s a freshman.”
Waiting for athletes from other sports to join the team is not something that Brown was expecting, as his team’s training and conditioning is already well underway, and their first match is this weekend.
“I’m not hedging my bets waiting for football to let out,” Brown said. “Our first dual is this weekend at York High School in Virginia. My expectations are not very high. I’m looking at individual achievement right now. As a team, it’s going to be hard to compete if you are missing three or four weight classes. Right now I’m probably missing about five or six.”
Brown added: “The main goal is to build the program even further eventually. Ultimately, we’d like to be able to compete with the top private schools in Maryland.”
Returning St. Mary’s Ryken senior wrestlers, like 160-pounder Gunnar Brodfuehrer, are excited for a new year of wrestling to begin, entering the season with high hopes.