- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Excuse the La Plata Warriors for seeing a reflection of themselves from a couple years ago as an elite state contender when they looked over at the visiting Glenelg Gladiators on Thursday.
Glenelg entered La Plata ranked slightly higher than the perennial state power of a host, a rare scenario for the Warriors who boast six duals and tournament Maryland crowns since 2006. Sporting more elite wrestlers in its lineup, Glenelg capitalized on its advantage to near-maximum capacity.
The Howard County program, the state’s ninth-ranked team in duals action and 11th overall entering the marquee showdown, won all six of its bouts featuring state-ranked wrestlers versus unranked competition and totaled 33 team points — just three shy of a maximum 36.
And in the four bouts with no major favorite, Glenelg claimed three of the matchups, two by pin. That was too much to overcome for La Plata, ranked No. 15 in duals and 16th overall in the state poll entering the match, even with winning all four of its bouts involving higher-ranked wrestlers against Glenelg.
Taking eight of the final 10 bouts of the match with a conventional start at 106 pounds thus enabled unbeaten Glenelg (10-0 overall) to overwhelm La Plata in 48-25 fashion.
“It was a close match until we got to our heavier weights, and we knew it’d be like that,” said La Plata standout sophomore Marty Margolis, ranked fourth in the state at 120. “Glenelg’s beat us the past two years so it’s a real match for Coach to [see us] prove ourselves and show how hard we work. There were a couple matches [against Glenelg] that didn’t go our way. We just got to stay off our backs.”
La Plata still tasted victory on the night as it earlier downed another Howard County quality program in Oakland Mills by a 33-26 outcome, the match not quite as close as the final score with the Warriors clinching the win with two bouts left.
Both Glenelg and Oakland Mills are Class 2A-1A teams and would not face La Plata, of the 4A-3A ranks, during the postseason.
“We definitely have enough horses [in our lineup] to improve,” Margolis added. “There’s no doubt in my mind or in everybody else’s mind on the team that we don’t outwork everybody else in the state. We just don’t have the years and the experience like these other [highly ranked] teams do. We’re building and hopefully we can come together strong as a team by the end of the season.”
Glenelg head coach Chris Rosas said of taking on La Plata, “There’s a reason why we wrestle this team. They are always tough. Even their weaker wrestlers are wrestling you tough all the time. I’m very pleased [with the win].”
Glenelg and Oakland Mills did not wrestle each other at La Plata.
This week’s state poll keeps Glenelg ranked 11th overall but moved up a spot to eighth in duals action. La Plata slipped to 20th and 16th, respectively, in this week’s state rankings.
Margolis played a pivotal role in enabling La Plata to get by Oakland Mills. Tallying the only points of his tight bout with a second-period reversal, Margolis edged Oakland Mills senior Zach Hensley, 2-0, in a marquee encounter. Hensley is ranked sixth in the state, just two spots beneath Margolis.
Riding the momentum of Margolis’ win, La Plata jumped out to a commanding 24-6 lead halfway through against Oakland Mills.
La Plata 160-pound junior Anthony Cable also came through in clutch form against Oakland Mills, nipping fellow top-10 state talent Jaron Smith in a 4-3 outcome.
Smith jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a first-period takedown and that stood up until the third when Cable tallied a reversal with a pair of backpoints, then held on to the narrowest of winning decisions after allowing an escape.
Cable was ranked 10th in the state entering the bout while Smith was No. 9. They have exchanged rankings in this week’s state poll after Cable prevailed.
Cable’s win pushed La Plata’s lead to 27-13, and teammate Dakota Wilhelm then clinched the La Plata victory over Oakland Mills with a pin in 1 minute 35 seconds at 182.
“It was a good win,” Margolis said about beating Oakland Mills. He impressively pinned Glenelg freshman Parker Griffie, ranked 25th in last week’s state poll.
He continued about this possibly being the season for him to win a state title like his father, which he shares the same name, “It’s definitely up in my mind. I just got to worry about every match before states.”
Wilhelm solidified his state ranking at No. 12 with another pin against Glenelg.
“I’m really not sure if we could’ve won but with most matches, it’s all about lineups,” Wilhelm said of facing Glenelg. “They’re a good team, I know that. I think they beat us last year. To be honest, I think we were a better team last year.
“It’s definitely a stepping-stone [year], no doubt about that.”
La Plata head coach John Pankhurst added, “I knew the Oakland Mills was going to be close based on how we matched up. In the Glenelg match, I felt like we had a good chance to take six or seven matches from them. We lost one that I thought we were going to get. I wasn’t terribly unhappy with the effort, just a couple of little things here and there.
“Our potential is there but the inexperience and greenness is showing.”
La Plata’s Nick Higgs fell short in a 5-4 decision at 132 in a rematch against Glenelg’s Mike Buddock. Higgs won that matchup earlier this season.
La Plata senior John Papanicolas (126) continued his stellar season as the state’s fourth-ranked talent, pinning both his opponents Thursday.
La Plata’s Miles Lee (113) and Cable were also double winners against Oakland Mills and Glenelg.
La Plata (15-8, 6-0 SMAC) took on Northern in a SMAC contest on Tuesday evening, which finished too late for inclusion into this edition.