[Baltimore Sun] The Aegis 2023-24 high school wrestling preview: C. Milton Wright, Harford Tech among those with high expectations

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C. Milton Wright coach John Thornton opened this season chasing his 100th career win. It took one match for him to hit the milestone. With that accomplishment already checked off and the year’s of success that led to it, Thornton said he has never coached a group like this year’s.

The Mustangs return Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference champions (Kane Desch, Mitchell Nguyen, Devin Sweeney, Jaxon Simms and Joel Tufts) and three state placers (Desch, Sweeney and Tufts).

Put simply, Harford County wrestling this season runs through C. Milton Wright.

Here’s a look around the county (Editor’s note: not all teams responded to requests for information):

Bel Air

Coach: Craig Reddish, 31st season

Last year: 33-9, 3A North Regional Duals Champs

Top returners: Senior Ian Nitz (215); sophomores Dominic Grey (126) and Khalil Mobley (113).

Newcomers to watch: Senior David Kalthof (157) and JT Ouandji Nana (190); junior Nathaniel Nitsch (144).

Coach’s outlook: “To be better at the end of the year than the beginning.”

C. Milton Wright’s Joel Tufts, left, wrestles  in the 220-pound Championship match during last year’s Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference Wrestling Championship meet. (The Aegis/File)

C. Milton Wright

Coach: John Thornton, seventh season

Last year: 14-10, 3rd in UCBAC, Regional Semi-finalists

Top returners: Senior Joel Tufts (215) and Hayden Goscinski (175); juniors Kane Desch (106/113), Mitchell Nguyen (126), Devin Sweeney (157); sophomore Jaxon Simms (165).

Newcomers to watch: Senior Josh Osuagwu (285); freshman Logan Layne (120).

Coach’s outlook: “This team is unlike any I’ve coached in my seven years at CMW. They are a tight-knit group that wrestles together year-round, and they’ve been putting in the work since last March to elevate themselves to another level. We return five UCBAC champions and three state placers, but the real key to this team’s success will be on the backs of the guys who have yet to make a name for themselves.”

Edgewood

Coach: Ken Ewers, eighth season

Last year: 4-10

Top returners: Kori Anthony, Cody Galbreath, Jamere Napper, Shane Tressler and Miles Putney.

Newcomers to watch: Matai Hughes and Adrian Sam-Kpkara.

Coach’s outlook: “We are looking to build on a group that is more experienced and can rely on strong leadership from upperclassmen to set an example for the new members of the team.”

Fallston

Coach: Billy Thomas, second season

Last year: 3-11

Top returner: Junior Aiden Fodel (120).

Newcomers to watch: N/A

Coach’s outlook: “Fallston is still in a rebuilding period. The team progressively got better throughout last season and hopefully we can continue the momentum. There is potential to qualify several wrestlers for regionals and even states.”

Harford Tech’s Wesley Outlaw tries to escape C. Milton Wright’s Brody Zumbano in last season’s 152-pound championship match during the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference Wrestling Championship meet. (The Aegis/File)

Harford Tech

Coach: Ja’Juan Burrell, seventh season

Last year: 29-5, 1A state dual semifinalists

Top returners: Seniors Wesley Outlaw (165/175) and Ryan Sewell (144/150); juniors Zaden Tablan (113/120), Brian Vickers (157/165) and Nikolai Chervak (144/150).

Newcomers to watch: Sophomore Brayden Pruski (106); freshman Cameron Moore (120/126).

Coach’s outlook: “Our end goal is to win a team state championship, and that requires solving the puzzle that is South Carroll (two-time defending state champions). We’ve set ourselves up to face tough competition all this year to prepare us for the final push in February. We’re attending three perennially tough tournaments this season. While we’ll lean heavily on our key returners to lead the way, building up some of our newcomers will really help push us over the top.”

Havre de Grace

Coach: David Rathfon, third season

Last year: 7-5 dual meets, made it to semi-finals of regional dual meet tournament, sent five kids to states

Top returners: Senior TC Hinton (165) and junior Connor Birth (132).

Newcomers to watch: Freshmen Madison Birth (106) and Vinny Kirby (120).

John Carroll

Coach: Keith Runk, fifth season

Last year: 9th out of 18 MIAA teams

Top returners: Sophomore Aaron Moccia (170/175).

Newcomers to watch: N/A

Coach’s outlook: “I am hopeful that with the addition of several new freshmen we can be more competitive this year. I have six wrestlers with experience coming into the program and five beginners. The MIAA is the toughest conference in the state and one of the premier conferences in the country. We have our work cut out for us again this year. Although my numbers are up from last year we still fall short in several weight classes. We will continue to work and grow and hopefully have our wrestlers peak at the end of the season so we can improve on our results from last year.”

Joppatowne

Coach: Mike Schafer, third season

Last year: 3-35

Top returners: Joel Oyekanmi, Darren Jefferson, Carsen May, Devonte Barnes, Mason Webb, Bryce Rapley

Newcomers to watch: Logan Savage, Cole Bryant, Christian Carter, Darius Dorsey, Muid Kalejaiye

Coach’s outlook: “We are excited for the upcoming season and looking forward to what we can accomplish this year.”

North Harford’s Clay Lawrence keeps the pressure on Rising Sun opponent Thomas Whitehurst as he goes for the pin in the 285 pound championship match during the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference Wrestling Championship meet. (The Aegis/File)

North Harford

Coach: Rob Knox, eighth season

Last year: 16-14 / UCBAC Tournament 4th Place

Top returners: Bryn Cespedes Tommy Blankenship, Clay Lawrence, Mykah Walker, Caleb Kerr, Issaac Brown, Ian Lewis, Jordan Lawson, Holden Young, Mason Raab, AJ Valentino, Ben Grabia, Diego Gonzalez, Scott Dilworth.

Patterson Mill

Coach: Ryan Arist, 24th season

Last year: 23-9 Overall, 8th in the UCBAC Tournament

Top returners: Seniors Abe Alkhatib (126), Jason Pickard (132), Jeff Gessner (138), Daisy West (155), Marloe Stump (190); juniors Christian Joglar (150), Nick Gomez (285), Karleigh Gill (140), Jacie White (170); sophomores Gabe Filling (113), Jonathan Fletcher (175) and Sarah Alkhatib (110).

Newcomers to watch: Seniors Bryce Ervin (165) and Melder Sandoval (190); sophomore Tre McInnes (215); freshman Allyson Mackowiak (115), Valerie Gardea (140) and Charley Millard (145).

Coach’s outlook: “With our Men’s team, we have a mix of experience coming back and good numbers in the room hoping to be competitive in the upper division. It’s going to be the culmination of hard work and patience teaching them the sport to get this team to where I think it can be. With our Women’s team we have some experience coming back and a lot of excitement trying to put Patterson Mill’s women’s team on the map with 12 girls out.”

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