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Wrestling team takes 11th, Ryken 28th; Knights’ Llopez derailed in semis at Ohio national tourney


Staff writer

Against public and private school powers among the 29-team field Friday and Saturday at the prestigious 11th annual War on the Shore wrestling tournament at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, the Huntingtown Hurricanes led the Southern Maryland contingent with a quality 11th-place finish of 84 points, tying the host school.

Great Bridge (Va.) tallied 178 points to nip the 175.5 from Archbishop Spalding of Anne Arundel County to win the talent-laden gathering, which also included teams from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C.

Southern Maryland Athletic Conference titan La Plata settled for 16th place with 68 points, ahead of Thomas Stone’s 51.5 points in a tie for 20th and St. Mary’s Ryken with 18 points in 28th.

Ryken competed without the state’s arguably top wrestler of any class in Josh Llopez, who competed in the nationally attended Walsh Ironman tournament in Ohio over the weekend.

Stone, without its entire lineup during the weekend, boasted the Southern Maryland’s lone champion at the tournament in senior standout Garrett Lineberger at 182 pounds. Lineberger, the state’s top-ranked wrestler in his class, easily disposed of Great Bridge’s Matthew Reynolds, 12-2, in the 182 final.

Huntingtown used the strong finishes of four wrestlers to crack the top 11 teams at the tournament.

“I was pleased that our guys stepped up to the challenge of competing in the War on the Shore,” Huntingtown head coach Kevin Gilligan said. “It is an extremely difficult and deep tournament and to see our guys compete with these teams was great. Our guys had to do the toughest thing in wrestling wrestle back through the tournament in an effort to place. We could have wrestled better and placed higher but this was a learning experience that we are going to build on throughout the season.”

Heavyweight Dalonte Holland paced Huntingtown at the tournament by capturing third in his 285-pound bracket. Teammates Jacob Wood (113), Colton Rowe (160) and Zack Walker (220) also placed with fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishes, respectively.

“A wrestling season is a grind,” Gilligan added. “This past weekend was the first step. We take it day by day and match by match.”

La Plata had sophomore sensation Marty Margolis (120) reach the final of his bracket, but he just fell short to Bradley Derito of Musselman (W.Va.) in a 2-1 tight outcome.

“Obviously I was pleased for Marty to make the finals,” La Plata head coach John Pankhurst said. “He avenged a loss from last year’s tournament in the semis this year. In the finals, he created several scrambles that he could have been awarded points from, but things did not go our way. I think he knows that he is able to generate offense. We just need to make sure we get the points on the board moving forward.”

La Plata’s Dakota Wilhelm wrestled up a class at 195 for the tournament to finish eighth.

“I thought Dakota wrestled a great tournament,” Pankhurst added. “Despite finishing eighth, I think he proved that he has evolved and I will be excited to see him down at 182 moving forward. I think he will be very competitive this year.

“I was not disappointed with anyone’s effort overall. We showed our youthful inexperience at a couple weights, but I feel like we definitely have corrections to make. The effort and the tempo are getting closer to where I want it to be, so now it is just a matter of utilizing this experience and growing moving forward.”

Following last Tuesday’s monumental duals win over Washington Catholic Athletic Conference juggernaut DeMatha, which finished sixth in the tournament (112 points), Ryken managed to place just Jack Krall (145) in eighth at War On The Shore.

Other Ryken notable wrestlers in Jack Vosburgh (106) and Steven Simpson (113) went 2-2 and 1-2 at the tournament, respectively, to miss out on placing in their brackets.

Llopez derailed

The much anticipated showdowns in the 160-pound bracket at the nationally renowned annual Walsh Ironman tournament Friday and Saturday involving Ryken star junior Josh Llopez, ranked third in the country by, lacked the usual luster for the local talent.

Llopez won his first three matches of the tournament, the opening two by pin and major decision, before succumbing in the semifinals to a pin in 3 minutes 6 seconds to the nation’s second-ranked Isaiah Martinez of California.

Llopez then recorded a pin in the consolation semifinals to advance to the third-place bout versus familiar opponent Myles Martin of McDonogh School in Baltimore County. Unlike a couple weeks ago when Llopez outlasted Martin, ranked ninth in the country, in overtime, this latest clash had an uneventful ending.

Llopez was forced to default out of the scoreless third-place bout versus Martin one minute into the action due to an ankle injury. Llopez thus settled for fourth at the tournament he was hoping to make a strong title showing.

“We had to throw in the towel so not the best finish,” Ryken head coach Matt Myers said of the effect of Llopez’s ankle injury. “He will stay at No. 3 [in the national rankings on].”

Myers added that he hopes to have Llopez back from injury “ASAP” but had no further information on his hobbled ankle as of Monday afternoon.