The Loyola wrestling team was in control of the team race from wire-to-wire at the annual Knightmare Invitational hosted by Parkville High School this weekend. The Dons tied John Carroll with a tournament high three champions, but placed the most wrestlers of any team in the field with 11.
Senior Dominick Reyes (152) made a successful return to the mat after suffering a torn meniscus at last year’s MIAA tournament. The two-time private school state placer pinned all three of his opponents, including a second period fall over John Carroll’s state placer Isaac Myers. The effort earned Reyes the tournament’s Outstanding Middleweight award.
“I’m really happy with my performance today,” Reyes said. “It’s my first tournament since my injury back at the MIAA tournament. I wrestled well, but at the same time I know I have some things I need to improve on. We’ll see John Carroll again. I’ll see the same kid, Isaac Myers, next week so in the practice room I’ll work on what I need to work on and I’ll see him next week. I just wanted to make a statement, wrestle as best as I could. I didn’t want any quick pins. It’s been a long time since I wrestled. It’s been nine months, something like that, so I just wanted to work on my attacks and see how I’d do in a live match.”
“Dominick is a special young man. He is humble, hardworking, smart (he’s a straight A student) but more than anything else, I think he’s really motivated this year,” said Loyola head coach Steve Truitt of Reyes. “Although it’s hard in the moment, sometimes it’s a blessing to get knocked down. Obviously, tearing his meniscus last year while winning in the MIAA semifinals was extremely disappointing, but I think that has lit a fire in Dominick. He knows this is his last shot and he’s making the most of it. That showed all weekend long and culminated in pinning an outstanding wrestler in Isaac Myers.”
Joining Reyes as an outstanding wrestler was sophomore Shawn Strand. Strand captured the 106lb title and with it the Outstanding Lightweight honor. He downed Langley, Virginia’s Nikhil Patel, 8-2, in the finals.
“I think I wrestled pretty well,” Strand added. “I went out there and tried my hardest and came out with some good results. I just tried to control the match (in the finals) as much as I could, ride out in the positions I needed to ride out in and give it my all.”
Loyola’s third champion was Jason Litvak (182). Litvak registered a technical-fall and pin en route to the finals where he flattened Boys’ Latin’s Joey Shortt in 57 seconds.
Coming in second for the Dons was Ryan Thomas (126). Freshman Josh Aybar (138) was third. Alec Feurer (145) placed fourth. Isaiah Stephens (120) finished in the fifth spot. Placing sixth were Kenny Epps (160), Taylor Randolph (170), and Bennett Traurig (285).
“Overall, I was very pleased with the team’s performance,” added Truitt. “To win the tournament with two injury defaults (160 & 170) and one other weight class unoccupied because of the descent plan was a pleasant surprise. We are a young team with only three seniors, so for the underclassmen to step up like they did bodes well for the season. With that said, we wrestle in the toughest conference in the state, so there will definitely be some difficult challenges ahead and we have a lot of work to do.
“It’s always nice to win the first event because it gives the guys on the team a lot of confidence. We beat some good teams this weekend. I was really impressed with John Carroll. They are a young team but have a lot of talent. But, we also must understand that it means nothing if we don’t continue to work hard and improve in all aspects.”
John Carroll finished in the runner-up slot by 2.5 points over Langley. The Patriots came into the final round in third place, 3.5 points behind Langley. Winning crowns were Cole Jones (113), Luke Strappelli (126), and Eric Ashton (145).
Strappelli got revenge on Loyola’s Thomas who beat Strappelli in their final meeting last season at the private school state tournament. That win was Thomas’ lone victory over Strappelli who has owned their rivalry.
“It was a tough match because we know each other so well, but it was nice to win against him,” said Strappelli. “This match helped boost my confidence level and it felt good to win a tough tournament.”
Falling short in their title quests for John Carroll were Matt Mitrega (120) and Myers (152). Mitrega dropped a hard-fought decision to Springbrook’s Christian Balmoris, 5-4. Balmoris was a 3A/4A state runner-up last season at 106lbs.
Gilman was fourth and brought home two championships, Cole Brown (132) and Jake Brummett (220). Brummett was a close second to Dundalk’s Robert Doetsch in the voting for Outstanding Upperweight. The senior had two pins on his way to the finals then won the title with a technical-fall over Joppatowne’s Nolan Klado, 15-0.
Dundalk’s two champions paced them to a sixth-place finish. Heavyweight Yeabsira Tilahun won a battle of state ranked opponents against Woodlawn’s Alon Hough by fall in the middle of the second period. Doetsch captured the 170lb crown and the Outstanding Upperweight award. The senior, who was an undefeated 3A/4A state champion last year, ground out a close win versus Langley’s Niko Woltman, 3-2.
“I felt like overall I did good,” Doetsch continued. “Going into the match when we first tied up I knew I had to weather the storm from watching him throughout the matches and see if I could gas him by the third period and work my tempo. I never saw him wrestle before except today and yesterday. My game plan was to stay low. If I broke my stance I knew he would capitalize and get to my legs. So, I tried staying low and keep attacking, keep attacking, and eventually getting the break so I could capitalize.”
Curley had two grapplers bring home championships, National Prep placer Josh Laubach (160) and Tyrone Roper (195).
The other event champion was Langley’s Tanner Doverspike (138). Roper had a big day all-around. Earlier in the afternoon he played in the BTC All-Star Classic and scored a touchdown.
2-John Carroll 182
3-Langley (VA) 179.5
9-Potomac School (VA) 79
10-Boys’ Latin 75
12-Eastern Tech 57
106 Shawn Strand, Loyola Blakefield Dec Nikhil Patel, Langley (VA), 8-2
113 Cole Jones, The John Carroll School M-Dec Joel Turner-Rodgers, Woodlawn, 11-3
120 Christian Balmoris, Springbrook Dec Matt Mitrega, The John Carroll School, 5-4
126 Luke Strappelli, The John Carroll School Dec Ryan Thomas, Loyola Blakefield, 2-1
132 Cole Brown, Gilman School M-Dec Joseph Abramovitz, Pikesville, 14-5
138 Tanner Doverspike, Langley (VA) Dec Ian Budny, Archbishop Curley, 6-0
145 Eric Ashton, The John Carroll School Fall Kye Lynch, Patapsco, 5:42
152 Dominick Reyes, Loyola Blakefield Fall Isaac Myers, The John Carroll School, 2:37
160 Joshua Laubach, Archbishop Curley Dec Rasim Aliyev, Pikesville, 7-3
170 Robert Doetsch, Dundalk Dec Niko Woltman, Langley (VA), 3-2
182 Jason Litvak, Loyola Blakefield Fall Joey Shortt, The Boy’s Latin School of Maryland, 0:57
195 Tyrone Roper, Archbishop Curley Fall Mac Alban, The Boy’s Latin School of Maryland, 3:35
220 Jake Brummett, Gilman School T-Fall Nolan Klado, Joppatowne, 15-0
285 Yeabsira Tilahun, Dundalk Fall Alon Hough, Woodlawn, 3:01
3RD PLACE FINALS
106 Andy Weinstein, Gilman School Dec Josh Bishop, Pikesville, 7-5
113 Tyler Chung, Langley (VA) M-Dec Tory James, Randallstown, 14-4
120 Nicky Zoski, Langley (VA) Fall Will Duryea, The Potomac School (VA), 1:44
126 Billy Madden, Springbrook Fall Drew Franklin, Gilman School, 4:48
132 Farris Sepulveda, The Potomac School (VA) Dec Chris Small, Parkville, 14-8
138 Josh Aybar, Loyola Blakefield Dec Shadi Qader, Dundalk, 7-0
145 Jean Mehul, Springbrook M-Dec Alec Feurer, Loyola Blakefield, 14-6
152 Evan Gaines, The Boy’s Latin School of Maryland Dec Ariq Nixon, Edgewood, 11-8
160 Cameron Nelson, Patapsco Fall Ali Esheltat, Langley (VA), 1:38
170 Jeremy Cranston, Gilman School M-Dec Tanner Tipton, The John Carroll School, 9-1
182 Mike Walker, Dundalk Dec John Clifford, Springbrook, 7-4
195 Chuck Ogala, Pikesville Dec Noah Howell, Langley (VA), 10-7
220 Dylan Budka, Dundalk Dec Dane Hoover, Langley (VA), 6-5
285 Destiny Asukorar, Randallstown Dec Druw Van Der Werff, The John Carroll School, 7-4
5TH PLACE CONSOLATIONS
106 Ray Smyth, Archbishop Curley Frft James Demonte-Weckel, Eastern Technical
113 Nabizhan Zavutatse, Pikesville Dflt Adrian Triguero, Archbishop Curley
120 Isaiah Stephens, Loyola Blakefield Fall Malachi Stewart-Lesesn, Joppatowne, 1:30
126 Marcus Woods, Parkville Dflt Zack Dell, Eastern Technical
132 Hamza Laghfiri, Dundalk Fall Aki Kondilis, Springbrook, 3:33
138 CJ Polesovsky, The John Carroll School Fall Raymond Anderson, Woodlawn, 3:28
145 Ted Tierney, The Potomac School (VA) Dec Thomas Heath, Eastern Technical, 6-0
152 Joe Giddings, Langley (VA) Dec Will Ayres, The Potomac School (VA), 7-5
160 Sabian Barber, Springbrook Frft Kenny Epps, Loyola Blakefield
170 Sam Lu, The Potomac School (VA) Dflt Taylor Randolph, Loyola Blakefield
182 Jammal Abdulah, Randallstown Dec Antonio Deshields, Pikesville, 11-6
195 Alex Slodzinski, Gilman School Fall Will Molali, The John Carroll School, 1:34
220 Tyler Hoff, Eastern Technical Fall Demitrius Daniels, Parkville, 1:31
285 Jesse Turcios, Springbrook Fall Bennett Traurig, Loyola Blakefield, 4:17