BEL AIR — They didn’t throw tantrums, headgear, or storm off the mat with the intent of testing a wall’s strength with their fists.
Yes, Colonel Richardson High’s wrestling team left disappointed, but as assistant Jake Benczo said, “It hurts, but we really feel good about it.”
The second-seeded Colonels almost gained a split in the finals of the Class 1A East Region dual-meet tournament Wednesday, Feb. 6, against defending champion Patterson Mill — winning six matches and losing eight. But while Colonel couldn’t find any bonus points — save one forfeit — the No. 1 seed Huskies did, collecting four pinfalls, a technical fall and two major decisions en route to a 40-21 victory.
“The young guys did pretty much what we needed them to do,” Colonel head coach Bryan Hall said. “But the veterans, we were looking for a little more out of them. But everybody battled.”
Competing in the regional duals for the first time in school history, the Colonels dispatched third-seeded Mardela, 53-24, in the semifinals to earn a date with Patterson Mill, which advanced via a 57-18 victory over No. 4 Cambridge-South Dorchester.
Starting at the 113-pound weight class, Kyle Pulket gave the Huskies (12-3) a lead they never relinquished at 4-0, when he earned an 8-0 major decision over Marclee Duvelcint, who blocked four shot attempts by Pulket in a scoreless first period.
“We were ecstatic with the way Marclee went out there,” Hall said. “That kid (Pulket) was a state qualifier last year, and we just threw a freshman out there. Marclee has grown so much in the last couple of weeks. We couldn’t have asked for anymore from that match.”
The Colonels (10-5) looked ready to shave that lead to at least one when Sam Souil picked up three near-fall points early in the third period for an 8-5 lead over Tony Athanasiou. But with less than a minute left, Athanasiou caught Souil in a headlock en route to a pinfall with 39 seconds remaining for a 10-0 lead.
“That was a huge win right there,” Patterson Mill head coach Ryan Arist said.
“Sam was battling and just got caught,” Hall said.
Brandon Draper’s 10-5 decision over Isaac Leighton at 126 got Colonel on the board at 10-3.
The Huskies extended their lead to 19-3, with Ethan Harvey earning a 16-1 technical fall over Zach Stanley at 132, and Brian Wheatley scoring a 9-1 major decision at 138 over Ryan Stanton.
Colonel didn’t let the Huskies get too far away though.
Down 3-2 and 5-4, Mason Lambert worked an escape with 45 seconds left in the third period for forge a 5-5 tie in the 145-pound battle, then scored a takedown on Matthew Williams with 17.3 seconds remaining in overtime for a 7-5 decision that trimmed Patterson Mill’s cushion to 19-6.
Alex Sweaney (152) restored the Huskies’ 16-point cushion at 22-6 with a 7-4 decision over Brandon Jester.
Colonel continued battling and chipping. Troy Rose built a 5-0 lead en route to a 6-2 decision over Kevin Le at 160, before teammate Samson Opher pieced together a 7-0 lead to fuel a 9-4 victory over Eric Neutzling, 9-4, at 170, drawing the Colonels within 22-12.
The deficit appeared on the verge of being reduced further, when Trevor Opher scored an early takedown in the second period for a 7-2 lead on Tristtin LaFave at 182. But like his teammate Athanasiou before him, LaFave caught Opher in a headlock, turned him to his back and scored a fall at 2:34 for a 28-12 Huskies lead.
“We keep our heads down and that’s how we got hit with those headlocks,” Benczo said.
Jordan Gabriel’s 13-6 decision over Connor Morton at 195 pulled Colonel within 28-15. But Will Gileza pinned Lesly Fluerissaint in 3:40 at 220 and Mason Sprinkel got a fall over Jess Fithian with 15 seconds remaining in the first period at 285 to cushion Patterson Mill’s lead to 40-15. Colonel’s Jorselen Gabriel picked up a forfeit at 106 for the 40-21 final.
“It was a good match,” Hall said. “We expected to come in here and be in a battle. So I mean I guess we can’t have your head down because they came in and did exactly what we expected. We expected it to be a battle. We didn’t come in here and just get wrecked.”
Mardela (7-7) surrendered three forfeits in the semifinals to Colonel, which got pinfalls from Souil, Tany Pierre-Louis, Samson Opher, and a technical fall from Jorselen Gabriel.
Cambridge-SD (6-9) also yielded three forfeits in its semifinal loss to Patterson Mill, with David Willis (120) and Camren Lake (160) earning pinfalls for the Vikings, and Dazheem Emory winning by forfeit at 106.
“Not the showing we wanted,” Cambridge-SD head coach Jesse Morris said. “We were short staffed. We had four first-year wrestlers out of that 11 guys. We’re just happy to be on this stage with that number of guys. I think that makes a statement.
“Happy with all of our guys, even the ones that lost,” Morris continued. “A lot of our guys lost by just points tonight (Trejen King lost 3-2 at 126, and Dawson Betts lost 6-5 at 138). That’s something we’ve been working on.”