UPPER MARLBORO — He fell behind last year and won.
He fell behind again this year and won again.
Easton High senior Maximus Bentley became the first wrestler in school history to win two state championships Saturday night, when he decisioned Fairmont Heights’ Jason Fernandors, 4-2, to win the 138-pound weight class at the Class 2A-1A state tournament at The Show Place Arena.
“Feels great. You know I’m making history,” said Bentley, who over the past two weeks has become the first in school history to win four Bayside Conference and 2A East Regional championships before becoming Easton’s first two-time state champ last night.
Bentley (34-2) spent less than two minutes on the mat Friday, winning his opener with a 49-second fall over Liberty’s Anthony Marisico (27-12), then pinning Eastern Tech’s Gavin Corridon (31-13) in 38 seconds in the quarterfinals.
After a scoreless first period in Saturday’s semifinals against Overlea’s Jerome Vonziah (32-6), Bentley worked an escape 13 seconds into the second period, and scored a takedown with 1:23 left in the period before turning Vonziah to his back for a 3:56 pinfall.
The string of pins ended with Fernandors (43-2), as did Bentley’s streak of scoring first, as the Fairmont Heights senior scored a takedown 45 seconds into the title match. Bentley scored the first takedown in last year’s title match at 126 pounds against Winters Mill’s Zach Kirby, but fell behind 3-2 before rallying for a 5-4 victory.
And though he’s had experience falling behind with a title on the line, Bentley was wrestling something else in his bid for history — nerves.
“I think my nerves got to me a little bit,” Bentley said. “Trying to make history at my school. It’s my last match in high school, of the season at least. And my nerves got to me. I got a little emotional.”
He recovered though.
With 48 seconds remaining in the first, Bentley escaped to pull within 2-1. Starting on bottom, he earned a second escape 16 seconds into the second for a 2-2 tie. Fernandors denied one deep shot, but Bentley regrouped and scored a takedown with 28 seconds remaining in the period for what proved to the decisive — and final — points of the match.
“I got down and I was like, ‘All right. I’ve been in this situation before,’” Bentley said. “I know what to do. I knew I had the match the whole time. I knew where I was at. I knew if I got out in the second period, I knew if I got out again, took him down the match was over. I knew he couldn’t take me down again. The first one was a fluke. I wasn’t going to let it happen again.”
Bentley’s nose was bloodied in the second period, which forced the match to be stopped for blood time multiple times in the third period, which may have slowed him down in regard to building any sustained momentum.
“It got annoying, but it all worked out,” Bentley said of the blood stoppages.
Kent Island’s Matthew Miller and Queen Anne’s Sean Blackwell also advanced to the finals.
In just his second year of wrestling, Miller (21-6) scored a takedown in overtime for an 8-6 decision over North Caroline’s Rhian Silsley (37-8) in the 145-pound semifinals, earning a date with Stephen Decatur’s Noah Reho, who earned a 10-0 major decision over Queen Anne’s County’s Eric Smith in the other semifinal at 45.
Miller took some shots in the final against Reho, but the Deecatur sophomore, who last year won the Class 4A-3A state title, earned a pinfall 30 seconds into the second period to cap a 38-3 season.
Blackwell (37-3), who missed the first part of the season, lost his first match back then went unbeaten until losing in last weekend’s 2A East final, advanced to the 220-pound final with three decisions. That streak ended though in the final, as Williamsport’s Brandon Oyster scored a pinfall in 1:20 — pinning his way to the title that completed a 51-0 season.
Stephen Decatur advanced five to the finals. Nico D’Amico (42-1) earned a 4-3 decision over Richard Davis (45-6) of Sparrows Points to win the 132-pound, Reho pinned Miller at 145, and James Panara (37-1) crafted a 12-4 major decision over Southern of Anne Arundel’s Kaleb Neal (34-9) in the 160-pound title match.
Stephen Decatur’s Jagger Clapsaddle (41-4) lost an 8-6 decision to South Carroll freshman Gage Owen (47-3) in the 120-pound final, and teammate Johnny Hofman (37-7) lost 2-1 to Lexx Carr (44-2) of Sparrows Point in the 195-pound final.
Parkside’s Mike Collins (33-2) won the 285-pound title with a 4-3 decision over Middletown’s Zach Brady (33-4).