About 20 minutes before the Maryland 4A dual meet championship Saturday evening, Springbrook wrestling coach Rob Whittles walked toward the table showcasing the state championship trophy. He placed his hands on his hips and stood there for about 20 seconds, staring at the prize he has dreamed about holding since he took over the Blue Devils’ program six years ago.
“Honestly,” Whittles said, “the whole week I’ve been really nervous.”
About two hours later, Whittles smiled while raising that trophy toward his wrestlers at North Point High in Waldorf. After its 36-18 victory over South River, Springbrook was the state champion for the first time.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” Whittles said. “I’m already ecstatic, and I’m sure I’ll feel even better tomorrow when it’s more real.”
When Whittles came to the Colesville school in 2012, only four students on the team had experience wrestling before high school. Whittles picked the majority of his wrestlers from the school’s hallways.
On Wednesday, Springbrook (17-1) claimed its first region title, and it all but sealed its state crown during the second-to-last match Saturday when Sahid Antar pinned his opponent in overtime at 160 pounds. Whittles stood from his chair and pumped his fists toward the Springbrook fans in the bleachers.
With nine starters expected to return next year, Springbrook hopes to continuing building on its milestone.
“I’m happy to leave high school as a champion,” Antar said.
Earlier Saturday, three matches remained in the 2A championships when a group of Damascus spectators in the bleachers looked toward Coach John Furgeson on the sideline and raised seven fingers.
Furgeson couldn’t help but smile and cover his face with his hands before refocusing. The gesture was a reminder of the dynasty that Furgeson has built at Damascus.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Swarmin’ Hornets were headed toward a Maryland state title with a 45-16 victory over Glenelg.
“I just can’t believe we’re standing here with a trophy right now,” Furgeson said. “Seven in a row — I would never imagine.”
Damascus (18-0) topped Glenelg (17-1) in the past two state championships, but this year’s squad featured mostly wrestlers who were on junior varsity last season. Still, at the team’s parents meeting in November, Furgeson said the Swarmin’ Hornets were set on winning another state title.
This was perhaps Glenelg’s best chance for a state crown because it had seniors as its top four wrestlers. The Gladiators led by two points through eight matches, but the turning point came during the match in the 285-pound weight class.
Michael Harris, in his second year wrestling, pinned his opponent to give the Swarmin’ Hornets an 11-point edge. After his victory, Harris turned toward the Damascus sideline, raised his fists and let out a yell as tears filled his eyes. Then his teammates mobbed him.
“That was the best pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” the junior said. “I tried to get out the words ‘I love you,’ but I don’t know if they got out.”