Connar Zimmerman helps La Plata to sixth state wrestling title

Winston Churchill's Hunter Sutton and Wilde Lake's Zathy Ndiang both won Maryland state championships Saturday at the University of Maryland.
By Andy Marso
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, March 5, 2011; 11:14 PM

At last year's Maryland 4A/3A wrestling tournament, La Plata's Connar Zimmerman lost, 5-3, to Mark Colabucci in the 145-pound championship and his team finished second to Colabucci's Reservoir Gators. This year felt a whole lot better.

Zimmerman, a senior, defeated Walter Johnson's Elad Covaliu in the 160-pound championship and led La Plata to its sixth team state title Saturday at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

"That was a huge motivator," Zimmerman said of the loss to Colabucci. "I don't know that there's been a single day since last year that I haven't thought about it. . . . I've had enough of second places."

It was clear early Saturday that La Plata wasn't settling for second. The Warriors also got state titles from sophomore John Papanicolas (103 pounds) and freshman Josh Llopez (152) and runner-up finishes from senior Daniel Brannon (140) and junior Jon Boarman (285).

The Warriors finished with 132.5 points and had the title nearly wrapped up going into the finals. "That took a lot of pressure off me," Papanicolas said.

Reservoir took second with 79 points behind Colabucci, who won the 171-pound title after going through a significant growth spurt since last year.

Old Mill senior Ron Vaughters became the first wrestler in school history to win three state titles. Vaughters missed early-season matches with knee surgery but was in top form Saturday, handing Northern's Eric Hoffman his first loss of the season in a 5-4 decision.

Vaughters said he was inspired by seeing his teammate Salaman Riddell win the 140-pound title right before him.

"I was very fired up," said Vaughters, who earned a takedown in the first 10 seconds of the match.

Centennial junior Nathan Kraisser (125 pounds), Arundel junior Tyler Goodwin (130) and Seneca Valley senior Bernard Wolley (285) won 3A/4A titles and finished the season undefeated. Oakland Mills junior Tony Farace burned through the 1A/2A field at 112 pounds to win his third state title and stay undefeated.

It was also the third state crown for Kraisser. This one was a little more special because it came against Magruder senior Parke Overmiller, who was also a returning state champ.

The two came into the match with a combined record of 73-1. Kraisser was favored and took an early lead, but an athletic takedown by Overmiller in the second period cut it to 3-2.

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