DERWOOD — Poolesville junior Kieran Barney finished with a record of 8-15 last year and the 182-pounder began this, his third-ever season of wrestling, on his back.
Barney was pinned in 3:34 by Sherwood’s sophomore county and regional fourth-place finisher Adam Pfeiffer during a 38-37 dual meet victory by the Falcons on Dec. 6, and was itching to redeem himself in last Saturday’s Mad Mats Tournament at Magruder.
In the end, it was Barney planting shoulders to the mat for the Falcons at Mad Mats as he decked all three opponents, including Good Counsel senior Alwyn Taylor in 2:38 of their title bout. His triumph paced the Falcons to third place in the 19-team field behind champion St. Paul’s of Baltimore County and Stephen Decatur of Berlin in Worcester County.
“Kieran did a lot of lifting during the offseason and wrestled in a couple of tournaments here and there. He just never gives up and goes at it 100 percent,” said Poolesville head coach Tim Tao.
“He asks lots of questions like, ‘Show me this,’ and, ‘Show me that,’ and is eager to learn. I told him after his finals match at Mad Mats if he wrestled like that all year, he’s placing at counties, regions and going to states.”
Others placing for the Falcons were junior county and regional runner-up Alex Carbonell (113, second), sophomore regional champ Colin Savage (138, second), senior Dillon Trent (195, second), sophomore Xavier Kresslein (160, third), senior Ray Kinzie (152, fourth), senior Ryan Johnston (106, fifth), junior Sam Hull (145, fifth) and senior Paul Szafranski (170, fifth).
“I’m very pleased with how everyone has wrestled. Every one of my guys had at least one win, so everyone contributed to our team placing third. St. Paul’s is ranked number one in the state for a reason, and I knew how strong Stephen Decatur was,” said Tao.
“I knew Landon and Conestoga were really strong. With all of these top teams, I wasn’t thinking we would be top three, but I told the team I would love to have a trophy. We were the number one Montgomery County team and the only county team with a champion.”
Winning titles for fifth-place Landon were senior three-time Mad Mats champion Brendon Gallagher (152), juniors Axel Giron (120) and Jelani Machen (160) and sophomore Lorenzo Lopez (126).
“We only entered 10 wrestlers, and eight of them placed in the top six,” said Landon coach Andy Katz. “Axel was voted Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament, and Lorenzo pinned in all four matches, receiving the most pins in the shortest amount of time award.”
Gallagher used a pin, a technical fall and a 13-0 shutout of St. Paul’s Everette McDuffie in the title bout. Lopez was even more dominant with three of his four falls being in the first period, including a 74-second championship pin of Magruder’s Colton Houldworth.
“Having four champions is really a great achievement, especially because we didn't have our 106, 220, or ,” said Gallagher, a returning Interstate Athletic Conference champion and private schools state runner-up. “Being a three-time champion means a lot to me. This gives me confidence for future tournaments. I'm most proud of the fact that our team gets better every year.”
A transfer from Parkdale High of Prince George's County where he was runner-up at 113 pounds as a sophomore, Giron’s double-leg takedown secured a 5-4 victory over Magruder’s C.J. Cramma, against whom he evened his series at 3-3.
Cramma looked to avenge a 6-3 Class 4A-3A state semifinals loss to Giron from last March, having placed first at counties and regions and third at states as a junior, which were all improvements on the previous year’s placements of second, third and fourth.
Giron came within a hair of winning states last year, falling 3-2 in the 113-pound final to repeat champion Brent Lorin of Harford County’s Bel Air.
“It was great motivation for me to see Axel win his champion match [against Cramma],” said Lopez, another IAC champion. “Having Axel in the room is a really big addition. It’s making us better and I think we’re making him better as well.”
Machen nailed down pins in 22, 68 and 90 seconds before winning his title bout 7-1 over Good Counsel’s eighth-place private schools’ place-winner Avery Miller.
“This was a good start to the season for me,” said Machen, an IAC champion who was sixth at private school states. “It’s my first live wrestling coming off the football season and an ankle injury. It was good to pick up where I left off last year.”
Also placing for the Bears, who carry on without injured senior IAC champion Carter Johnson (195), were sophomore Patrick Kielb (132, second), junior Jonny Gherman (160, fourth), sophomore Matt Amitay (138, fifth) and senior Nick Haller (195, sixth).
“We were missing Carter Johnson with an injury,” said Machen. “Carter placed sixth in the state. When we get Carter in there, our starting lineup’s one of the best in the state.”
Cord Richardson (132), champion of sixth-place Good Counsel, pinned Kielb in 5:31 of their title bout, having advanced on a 77-second pin and decisions of 11-0 and 6-2.
“This tournament was a great way to start the season,” said Richardson, a third-place finisher at private school states whose freshman sister Heidi (120) was sixth at Mad Mats. “It was a great experience for our newer guys and I was glad I got to see my sister’s first matches as a Falcon.”
Others placing for the Falcons were junior Cole Robilotto (152, third) and sophomores Conor Lozupone (113, fifth), Jack Stefanelli (145, fourth) and Brandon Roberts (285, fourth).
Finishing in the top four for seventh-place Magruder were junior Sabio Amah (220, third), senior Erick Lowe (285, fourth) and Joel Hernandez (195, fourth).
Leading the way for eighth-place Walter Johnson were Leo Saucedo (285, second), Ibrahim Woodard (106, third), Kemper Stearns (120, fourth) and Jacob Bernstein (132, fourth).
Stearns was third at both counties and regions and fourth at states last year, Saucedo, a county runner-up and third-place regional finisher, and Woodard, a junior varsity county champion.
Other top four place-winners were Gaithersburg’s Isaac Pellegrino (106, fourth) and Daniel Gonzalez (182, fourth), and Richard Montgomery’s Antonino Pedone (138, fourth).
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