With 11 underclassmen in the Calvert wrestling team's lineup, it's obvious why Coach Dave Kistler is looking forward to this weekend's Patriot Classic Wrestling Tournament at Northern High.
"We need as much mat experience as we can get," Kistler said of his Cavaliers. "With such a young team, this is the best way for us to get better. We need to see what we can do on the mat."
Calvert, the defending Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champion, is one of 18 teams competing at the two-day tournament, which starts at 5 p.m. Friday. Local participants are Calvert, No. 9 Northern, La Plata, Patuxent and Westlake. The best of the visiting teams include No. 2 Damascus--last year's Maryland 4A/3A champion--Magruder and Broadneck.
"With so much talent coming to the tournament, I don't think anyone can say they are going to win," Kistler said. "There are so many teams that have the ability to win this weekend, which should make for some good wrestling."
The Cavaliers, who placed fourth last year at the state 4A/3A tournament, are hoping to crack the meet's top six, Kistler said. Two keys will be getting points from sophomore Clinton Parker (12-0) at 103 pounds and sophomore Max Buff (8-1) at 119.
The Cavaliers also should get a boost from senior Buck Sampson, a two-time state qualifier who will return to the mat this weekend at 125 pounds after missing matches in December because of injury.
"My philosophy on tournaments is that they always take care of themselves," Kistler said. "We know that if everyone on our team does his job, we'll be fine. You can't get caught up in team scoring. I want our wrestlers to cheer for each other, but they also know that if they don't do well in their match, it will hurt our chances of winning."
Northern, which is led by undefeated sophomore Ryan Foreman (10-0 at 145) and senior Marcello Nucci (8-2 at 140), won the Lackey tournament and finished second at the Chopticon tournament earlier this season.
"We wrestled well in tournaments so far, so we have a good chance to win," Northern Coach Jeff Fowler said. "But the field is very wide open. I think it would be arrogant for any coach to say that they are going to win."
After a two-round session Friday, the tournament will feature two sessions Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
"I can't think of a tournament that is better than this one," La Plata Coach Cliff Nagle said, adding that his team could challenge the favorites. "There are some top tournaments around the state, and this one is up there with all of them. The reason why I chose this one is because I'm going to get to see teams from all over the state."