SANDY SPRING, Md. —Four wrestlers from North Hagerstown and South Hagerstown qualified for the Maryland Class 4A-3A state tournament during the second day of the West regional tournament Saturday.
Amont Hawkins (182 pounds) and Gene Balcita (138) finished third in their weight classes for the Hubs.
Hawkins defeated Matt Roberts of Sherwood 9-1 in the first round of the consolation bracket and Byron Johnson of Northwest 10-2 in the second round before pinning James Kalavritinos in 5:34 to take third.
“I feel accomplished in a way, but I’m disappointed that I didn’t make it to the championship round,” said Hawkins. “I’m content with third place and to go to states. Unfortunately some of our guys weren’t able to show our best, but we’ll keep moving forward.”
Balcita was pinned by Charlie Banaszak of Bethesda-Chevy Chase in 3:00 in the winners’ bracket semifinals. He then defeated Northwest’s Tommy Beard 9-0 and pinned Walter Johnson’s Chris Crawford in 3:20 in consolation matches to qualify.
“I’m a little upset that I lost, but I think it’s pretty good that Amont and I are going to states,” said Balcita.
South sent two wrestlers to the region tournament and both advanced to states.
Senior Marquil Holt (220), after finishing fifth in 2011 and 2012, finally broke through by finishing fourth Saturday. Holt fell to Connor Tilton of Quince Orchard 8-0 in the winners’ bracket semifinals, but defeated Mongomery Blair’s Lansana Sylla 9-2 to reach the consolation bracket final. He fell to John Holland of Springbrook 3-1 and settled for fourth.
“Words can’t even describe how I feel. It’s almost unreal,” said Holt. “I wanted this bad. I’ve been working hard these past four years, but I’m not done. I’m still on a mission for a state title.”
Freshman Isaiah Brooks came back from a championship quarterfinals loss to take third at 106. He got a forfeit to advance to the second round of the consolation bracket, where he defeated David Silverberg of Richard Montgomery. Brooks took third on an injury default as his opponent, Sherwood’s Andrew Frumkin, could not continue. Brooks was leading 9-2 before the default.
“I’m happy. I’m excited. This is my first time at states in high school,” said Brooks. “I’m looking forward to some good matches. I’m sure there will be some close ones.”
“It was a really good weekend for my boys. Our mission was to qualify for states and we did it. I couldn’t be happier,” said South coach Thomas Ashby. “Marquil has finished fifth for two years and I know this was one of his goals. Congrats to Isaiah as well for qualifying as a freshman in a really tough weight class.”
The Maryland 4A-3A state tournament will be held at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House on March 1-2.