Damascus’ wrestling team approached this postseason “looking for five.” The regional and state dual meet titles, as well as county, region, and state tournament titles comprised a handful of lofty, yet attainable goals for the No. 3 Swarmin’ Hornets.
But as junior Michael Wilkerson flailed on his back for a few moments in his 132-pound bout at Wednesday’s 3A/4A Maryland dual meet championship in Waldorf, the second stepping stone came into doubt. But Wilkerson quickly wiggled free and avoided a pin, and Damascus held on for a 30-29 victory over North Hagerstown to win its second consecutive title.
“[Getting pinned] would have meant forfeiting all the team’s hard work, and I couldn’t allow myself to undo our great season,” Wilkerson wrote via text message from a team bus that was too raucous for phone interviews after the victory.
North Hagerstown jumped out to a 22-12 lead midway through the championship match, but many of Damascus’ best wrestlers had yet to take the mat at that point. Junior Mikey Macklin’s pin at 113 pounds gave the Swarmin’ Hornets a 24-22, and they held on the rest of the way.
“We knew we had to wrestle our best to come back,” Macklin said. “We were confident, but we were all nervous, you know? The coaches were saying, ‘We need a pin, we need a pin.’ ”
Macklin didn’t waste much time, landing a single-leg takedown in the first period before finishing off his opponent with a cradle.
The dual meet championship format allows an entire, 14-weight starting lineup to compete for a title. This Damascus group got its feet wet with a title run last season, and it knew what to expect coming into this week.
“The big thing is, you get to bring 20 kids,” Damascus Coach John Furgeson said. “And these 20 kids get ready to step in and do battle whether they’re a [junior varsity] backup or whatever. And we had a couple kids today who had been wrestling JV all year, and this was their first varsity match.”
One such case was freshman Michael Bradshaw, who wrestled up a class to 220 and kept things close in a 3-1 loss to North Hagerstown’s Tom Milner.
From Bradshaw to senior David Creegan — who notched a pin at 120 pounds — the Swarmin’ Hornets came through. It’s a nucleus that — thanks to its robust feeder program — has been wrestling tournaments together for nearly a decade. But as Macklin is quick to reiterate, there are still three more steps that Damascus wants to take.
“The whole season we said we were looking for five,” Macklin said. “This is just another thing on our road. We had to get here to stay motivated for the next thing.”