Heading into this season, Chopticon wrestling coach Dane Kramer's roster already had four sure bets for victory. But with the emergence of 135-pounder Michael Mattingly and 215-pounder Nick Dyson as dominant wrestlers, Kramer's Braves have become one of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference's toughest teams.
Dyson and Mattingly earned pins in both of their two matches to help the Braves win twice at a tri-meet with Northern and host Thomas Stone on Tuesday night in Waldorf. Chopticon beat Northern, 42-33, and followed up that victory with one over Thomas Stone, 44-28.
Chopticon's Luke Black (103 pounds), Michael Cannon (112), Brendan Hammett (119) and Eli Black (152) did their usual good work, each winning twice. The four have only two losses among them this season.
"Those four are the parts that you can count on," Kramer said. "When you add two more who are winning almost all their matches, you're putting the other team in a hole. And we're getting good contributions from the rest of our team, too, and that's helping a lot."
The Braves (10-1) remain tied for second place in the SMAC with just three dual meets remaining. They will face Calvert -- which also has one defeat -- next Tuesday in a dual meet that will likely decide the second SMAC representative in the regional duals tournament. The losing team's chances for the postseason will depend on the records of the region's Prince George's County teams.
Chopticon rebounded nicely from a Jan. 14 dual-meet loss to first-place La Plata. The Braves finished third in the South River Invitational despite forfeiting the first day of competition because of snow.
"We knew these two [against Northern and Thomas Stone] were big matches for us, and we've put ourselves in good position for the regional duals," Kramer said. "I don't think there were any negative effects of the La Plata loss."
Dyson made quick work of his opponents Tuesday. He pinned the Patriots' Corey Gallahugh in 35 seconds in a heavyweight bout, then rebounded from an early takedown to pin the Cougars' George Taylor in 77 seconds in a 215-pound bout. Dyson improved to 21-5 this season.
"I knew I would have a good season, but I'm more satisfied than I thought I'd be," Dyson said.
Mattingly, now 19-5, coolly earned two hard-fought victories. He beat Northern's Brendan McCarthy, 9-0, and pinned Thomas Stone's A.J. Ropisan in 4:52. Mattingly said his confidence has risen as the season has progressed, helping him become a more dominant wrestler.
"I'm trying to get more aggressive against the other wrestler," Mattingly said. "I'm trying to take it to them. At the beginning of the year, I think I was still seeing what I could do."
Northern edged Thomas Stone, 39-38, in the other dual match. Consecutive pins by Andrew Carta at 160 pounds, Walter Hoffman at 171 and Matt Parsons at 189 allowed the Patriots to overcome a deficit. Parsons and Joe Nogle (135 pounds) each recorded two pins Tuesday. Senior Patrick Klenk was the only Thomas Stone wrestler to pick up pins in both of his matches, going to the third round in both.