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Leonardtown Raiders senior wrestler Marco Cucinotta did not forget two particular losses that ended his dual-meet season and SMAC championship aspirations at the end of his junior season last season, losses in both instances to Chopticon junior Jarrett Arnold.
An entire year later, Cucinotta was meeting Arnold again to end the 2012-13 dual-meet season and, on Thursday night at Chopticon, Cucinotta got his revenge, so to speak, with a 9-5 decision to win the 113-pound meeting.
That win came at the tail end of a Leonardtown 56-18 victory over Chopticon to close out the dual-meet season for both teams.
“When I am going against Chopticon, I know there is a chance I am going to wrestle Arnold,” Cucinotta said. “I thought I was going to miss him this year, so it was kind of good he bumped up to wrestle.”
Cucinotta was able to think back on his wrestling last year and discovered what may have been the difference between last year and Thursday night.
“Last year, I barely took any shots,” he said. “Now, I am taking shots left and right, and it’s helping a lot.”
Leonardtown (6-8, 5-7 SMAC) jumped out to a 25-0 lead by winning the first five bouts of the night that included two technical-fall victories by Dane Lemmon (126 pounds) and Andrew Lee (138) and two victories by pinfall by Kayleb Forsythe (132) and Garland Brooks (145). Brandon Schultz rounded out the five-straight wins with a 15-10 victory in the 152-pound bout.
Leonardtown’s Garrett Wallace closed the door on a Chopticon comeback when he pinned Chopticon’s Joe Hall in the 285-pound bout to give Leonardtown a 43-15 lead with three bouts remaining.
“He was a really good opponent,” Wallace admitted. “You couldn’t do much because he was really strong, so I just tried my best and I got that roll on him, and it turned out to be a really great pin.”
On the team win, Wallace added, “It feels great. Our hearts are just lifted, and to come out with a team win is just great.”
The next time the Raiders and Braves will be on the mat is at North Point for the SMAC tournament Feb. 15 and 16.
“Work hard every day in practice,” Cucinotta said of the next move. “We have two straight weeks of practice, so there can be no slacking off. I have to watch my weight and don’t overeat. ... Anything I can put in to make myself better is all it takes.”
Chopticon senior Larry Cannon was the only Braves wrestler to be honored Thursday on senior night. He completed an undefeated SMAC season individually after defeating Shane Boyce with a first-period pin.
Cannon finished the SMAC season 12-0 and 28-3 overall.
The senior wrestled with Chopticon during his freshman year before moving to Tennessee for his sophomore season and Florida for his junior year before returning to Chopticon this year.
“Wrestling has taught me so much,” Cannon said, “and going into the military, I don’t know if I am going to have that opportunity to wrestle in college or not. I was thinking this was my last dual meet at Chopticon as a Brave, and it sucks. You work hard every day for your team and now, to say goodbye to them, it wasn’t the best way to do it.”
Chopticon’s Alex Flanagan was able to pull out an overtime victory with a 9-7 win over Nate Litsch at 170, and Trevor Barnes (182) capped off three-straight Chopticon victories, starting with Cannon’s win, with a victory by pinfall over Brandon Dennee.