Two weeks ago, Sparrows Point wrestling coach Mike Whisner said the Pointers “have our work cut out for us” at the upcoming Damascus Holiday Tournament.
In addition to several state powerhouses, including the seven-time defending dual-match state champ host team, the tournament also featured strong out-of-state teams.
The Pointers did work, all right: they beat everyone who stepped on the mat with them.
That included Damascus. Sparrows Point beat the seven-time defending state dual-match champs 36-32.
The Pointers also beat South Carroll, which has won four state tournament championships since 2014, 39-33; defeated J.J. Pearce (Texas) 75-6; Berkley Springs (West Virginia) 66-24; Oakdale 66-6; West Springfield (Virginia) 57-21; and D.C. private school DeMatha, 66-15.
“I am very surprised with how we did,” Whisner said. “Damascus is the standard of Maryland high school wrestling. South Carroll is also a state-ranked team. This tournament is typically loaded.
“My goal was for us to be competitive and to get better throughout the tournament. All the credit goes to our wrestlers. They came out ready to wrestle and wanted to show people what we were capable of doing.”
Both the Damascus and South Carroll matches came down to the last weight class.
Sparrows Point trailed Damascus 32-30 entering the final match, and got a pin from Shawn Wolford.
The Cavaliers and the Pointers were tied 33-33 entering the final match, which Zack Barnickel won with a pin.
The tournament followed a unique hybrid format: the first half had each team wrestle seven dual matches, while the second half was an eight-man individual tournament (with the seeds determined by how the wrestlers performed during the dual matches).
Sparrows Point, as mentioned, went 7-0 during the dual-match portion of the tournament. The Pointers finished fourth in the individual tournament.
Cambridge-South Dorchester won the individual tournament over South Carroll, 134-130. Williamsport was third with 118 points, followed by Sparrows Point with 112 and Damascus with 102.
Richard Davis won the 132-pound weight class, pinning each of his three opponents, while Jake Rallo won he 170-pound weight class, also with three pins.
Davis went 10-0 in the tournament, with nine pins. He earned his 100th career win, and also won the tournament award for most pins in the shortest time..
Rallo also finished 10-0, and pinned South Carroll’s Antonio Bradford, the top-ranked wrestler in the state at 170 pounds.
(Rallo had been ranked 10th.)
“Beating teams like Damascus and South Carroll shows we have the potential to wrestle with anyone,” Whisner said. “Hopefully we can get healthy and stay that way for state duals.”
Luke Hoenig finished second at 138 pounds, losing 12-1 to Michael Emerick of Damascus in the finals.
Lexx Carr took second at 195 pounds, losing 8-1 in the final to Tim Furgeson of Damascus.
Dom Ambrosino finished third at 106 pounds, while Wayne Brooks was fourth at 126 pounds.