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As host Huntingtown exploded out to a 30-12 advantage through seven bouts, La Plata responded with a 19-point run that would give it a one-point lead in Saturday morning’s Southern Maryland Athletic Conference wrestling showdown.
However, with an anticipated crowd on hand, the Hurricanes would earn three straight victories in the final three bouts to earn a 43-31 victory over SMAC power La Plata, handing the Warriors their first SMAC loss of the season and only its second SMAC duals defeat in nine years.
The contest was scheduled to be wrestled on Thursday evening, but was postponed to Saturday with schools in Southern Maryland closing early due to a possible snow event in the area.
With La Plata needing a pin in the match’s final bout to tie the match, Huntingtown junior Colt Constantino capped off the morning with a second-period pin over Justin Irwin in the 145-pound weight class.
If the Warriors had tied the match with an Irwin pin, the winner of the match would have based on a tiebreaking criteria.
Huntingtown (13-2, 6-1 SMAC) is on a five-dual match win streak, with its last loss coming at the hands of host North Point, 34-23 on Dec. 18.
“I knew this was a huge match and I wanted to go out and not give up any points. I was trying to set him [Irwin] up, he’s a very tough wrestler, I was fortunate to earn six points,” Constantino said. “La Plata has a great team; we knew they had their hammers in the lightweights. But we got some big wins after that.”
Sophomore Marty Margolis and senior John Papanicolas earned back-to back pins at 120 and 126, respectively, to help give the Warriors the lead for the first time, 31-30.
“We were missing a couple wrestlers, so we knew it was going to be tough, and Huntingtown wrestled well today,” Papanicolas said. “They are a good team, we know it could be tough getting in regional duals, but we are going to continue to work hard.”
Huntingtown junior Brett Skinner (132 pounds) eked out a 5-4 win by decision over La Plata’s David Pipes and sophomore Dominic Sita picked up a 14-6 win by major decision over Nick Higgs at 138 to put the Hurricanes up 37-31 with one bout left.
“This was a pretty big win for us, La Plata’s always a tough team, said Skinner, who had a takedown in the third period to go up 5-3 and held off Pipes in the end. I could’ve done some things better in my match. [Pipes] really came out to wrestle. Winning a close match like this will help us later in the season and builds our confidence.”
Saturday was a match that both La Plata and Huntingtown needed for conference title chances and, even more importantly, to keep hope alive for clinching a berth into the Class 4A-3A South Region duals tournament on Feb. 6.
“This was a nice win for us, La Plata’s tough and they have a great head coach [John Pankhurst] who has kept them as one of the top programs in the state,” Huntingtown head coach Kevin Gilligan said. “I knew it was going to be a war. Their hammers were at 20 and 26 and we knew that. Brett and Dominic got big wins for us, and Colt sealed the deal. The kids are starting to believe and we are a year older and stronger.”
The two teams traded victories on pins for the first four bouts, as Huntingtown senior Colton Rowe (152), La Plata junior Anthony Cable (160), Huntingtown junior Collin Officer (170) and La Plata senior Dakota Wilhelm (182) all earned six points that tied the match at 12.
“At 170, we were winning and got pinned, there were several matches that didn’t go our way,” Papanicolas said. “We wrestled hard, the better team just won today.”
Huntingtown’s Mike Wilkerson, a DeMatha transfer, won by forfeit at 195, and senior Zack Walker pinned La Plata’s Tyler Padgett at 220.
Junior Dalonte Holland won by forfeit at 285 to give Huntingtown the 18-point lead.
“Huntingtown was solid, they brought a couple kids down to their weights and had a new 195-pounder [Wilkerson] on the team, so some of the matchups happened in different places than I anticipated,” said Pankhurst, whose team came into the match off a 34-33 win over visiting Northern last Tuesday. “However, we were still in position to win the match still. So now we have to do our job and see how the rest shakes out.”
Cameron Butler (106) and Miles Lee (113) also earned wins by major decision and decision, respectively, to bring the Warriors within 30-19.
Huntingtown took on host Patuxent, while La Plata took on host McDonough on Tuesday. Both matches finished too late for inclusion into this edition.