For all intents and purposes, Kevin Budock’s sophomore season came to an end in late February, when he finished second at the National Preps tournament in Bethlehem, Pa. He took a week off from practice and began practicing three days a week at ‘the barn,’ a Howard County hot spot for some of the area’s top talent.
But then last weekend, Budock, who wrestles at Good Counsel, and several other local standouts returned to tournament competition. The reigning All-Met drove south to Virginia Beach, Va., for the 25th annual National High School Coach Association wrestling championships, a prestigious event that attracts top wrestlers from across the country.
Budock won his grade level’s weight class for the second consecutive year, defeating Dakota Gardner of New York, 3-0, in the 138-pound final of the sophomore division Sunday night.
“It’s pretty tough,” he said of the tournament. “I just happened to step in at the right time in the right weight, and come in with the right mindset and just get the job done.”
Many wrestlers welcome the end of the season, relieved that they no longer have to maintain a specific weight and can indulge, if only briefly, in large meals or junk food. But for Budock, a two-time Maryland Independent School champion and National Preps runner-up, the end of the high-school season simply meant the beginning of club wrestling season.
“It wasn’t really getting back into shape. I took a one-week break from practice, and then I started going three days a week at ‘the barn.’ So then it just sort of helped itself,” Budock said. “‘The barn’ gets really hot and there’s a lot of really good partners there, so it always ends up being a really good workout there. I feel like it prepared me pretty well.”
While Budock was the area’s only champion at the event this year, the D.C. region also produced three runners-up and 14 NHSCA All-Americans. River Hill led the way with four All-Americans.
Hawks senior and North Carolina commit Cory Daniel lost a close 7-6 decision in double-overtime in the 220-pound final, while St. Mary’s Ryken junior Steven Simpson (120 pounds) and St. John’s freshman Brian Hennessy (170 pounds) were overmatched in their respective championship matches.
Here is a complete list of the area’s All-Americans, listed by grade division and finish. The top eight wrestlers in each grade and weight class qualified for the honor.
Brian Hennessy (St. John’s), 2nd place at 170 pounds
Brendan Woody (South River), 5th place at 285 pounds
Brady Daniel (River Hill), 8th place at 160 pounds
Kevin Budock (Good Counsel), 1st place at 138 pounds
Spencer Hayes (Paul Vi Catholic), 5th place at 220 pounds
Antonio Agee (Hayfield), 7th place at 182 pounds
Jay Aiello (Westfield), 7th place at 170 pounds
Steven Simpson (St. Mary’s Ryken), 2nd place at 120 pounds
Tyler Love (Centreville), 4th place at 195 pounds
Cory Daniel (River Hill), 2nd place at 220 pounds
Justus Weaver (Battlefield), 4th place at 152 pounds
Michael Beck (River Hill), 6th place at 113 pounds
Logan Kirby (River Hill), 6th place at 195 pounds
Dalonte Holland (Huntingtown), 7th place at 285 pounds