SMWC Wins it All
Dominates MSWA Age-Wt State Championships
and Folkstyle Club Championships
March 27-28, 1999
Southern Maryland Wrestling Club pounded the competition at the Maryland State Wrestling Association's Age-Weight Folkstyle Championships and Club Championships held March 27 & 28th at River Hill HS in Columbia. With nearly 500 entries on Saturday for the kids, open, and masters age groups, SMWC amassed an amazing 9 champions, 5 seconds, and 4 thirds to about clinch the team title, the 7th state folkstyle club championships for SMWC since 1991. Saturday winners were led by SMWC big guns Mark LaFond (masters), Jake Scott (open), Jamie Clark (bantam), Steve Sargent (midget), Mike Rowe (juniors), and Rudy Rueda (intermediate).
Jake Scott, who wrestled his college carreer at American University, is a member of SMWC's Hall-of Fame. He showed up wearing his old red SMWC club shirt and brought his new wife plus several kids from the school team where he now coaches. The last time Jake wrestled at the MSWA Age-Wt States he was a senior in high school and went on to win Eastern Nationals that year. Mark LaFond, one of SMWC's big older members, decided to enter both open and masters, and had the unfortunate privilege to draw Jake for his first open match. The two are shown on the left at the start of their match, just before Jake went to work. Good thing Mark was also in masters as he had lots of trouble with Jake but little trouble winning his own age group.
Jamie Clark, a 48 lb Bantam, has been wrestling bigger and older kids and doing well on SMWC's beltway youth team, the SMWC All-Stars, all season. Saturday was his day to shine at his own age and weight. He was inspired, thoroughly dominating his finals opponent prior to pinning him. Steve Sargent, shown in his finals at right, and Matt Jones, were others of SMWC's smaller kids who did a tremendous job against older league opponents all season. Steve, Matt and Jamie are all expected to advance to the final Eastern Nationals.
Rudy Rueda, SMWC's defending Maryland Beltway State Champ, had little trouble blowing away everyone he faced. Probably his most interesting match was a late exhibition held about 9:00 pm Saturday night. It seems there was a northeast regional winner down from Long Island, NY, who couldn't wrestle in the tournament but wanted to get some exhibitions in. He was a little bigger than Rudy, but after listening to how though this guy said he was and how weak our locals looked all day, Rudy agreed to the match. Guess they didn't know Rudy was also an Eastern National Champion as Rudy was beating his opponent 8-0 when he decided to finish the job for a pin.
Other SMWC kids wrestlers who had great tournament wins were Walt Hoffman (shown on left), and Mike Rowe. Walt was an AAU Grand National winner last summer and Mike won both Grand Nationals and the Ohio Tournament of Champions. Both appear ready to take on the next level at regionals. SMWC's Eric Miller (shown on the right) who now wrestles at James Madison University, had a super day in the open division. He managed a very tough 4-2 victory to take home gold in a large 142 lb class, maybe the toughest of all the open division classes.
On Sunday, SMWC's HS big guns, minus the club seniors who were at HS Senior Nationals (Drew Robertson, Chris Knox, and Scott McAdoo), came out to play, and put some icing on the club title cake. Seven more SMWC champions were crowned Sunday led by state #1 ranked Kevin Gabrielson in cadets and defending 3A/4A State Champion, Jeff Evelith in elite (shown in finals at left). Jeff had a super intense final against always tough Kip Fields, but managed a solid victory after numerous back and forth exchanges.
SMWC cadets dominated the age group. At 105 lbs, two long time club members, Chris Shelton and Clint Parker met in the finals. The match (shown at right) was close until Chris (orange) scored an excape and a duck under in the second period, then took control for the win.
In a great final, SMWC's Kevin Gabrielson met tough Tom Boettcher for the third time this season. This match, as usual, drew both a big crew of spectators and featured some intense action. With no score first period, Kevin rode Tom through the second period, then scored both an escape and a takedown third period for the victory.
Other SMWC cadets who had great tournament victories included Mike Vashon, Jon Peters, and Ryan Forman. Mike was suffering from tendonitis in his elbow having just returned from the Middle School National Duals in Ohio. However, he looked about as solid as one can be in the finals, catching his opponent in a spladle for the pin. Mike is on SMWC's beltway youth team and will be a HS freshman next fall. Both Ryan and Jon dominated their final opponents, each coming away with strong victories.
In elite, with many SMWC seniors missing, the club didn't do as well as in the other age groups. However, besides Jeff's championship, high school juniors Chip Williams, Jacob Keyes, and Garrett Black stepped in and looked great with seconds and thirds. In a highly anticipated finals match-up, a re-match of this year's HS state finals, state champ Brandon Lauer, ranked #2 in Maryland, dominated SMWC's #3 ranked Nick Alley scoring a fall in the third period.
SMWC went on to claim 7 more champions Sunday, plus three seconds and two thirds. The total for both days was 16 firsts, 8 seconds, and 6 thirds. This was really a major victory for SMWC, and concluded a fine folkstyle season for the club's kids and older age groups. The SMWC All-Stars also won their CAWL youth league championships this season.