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4A Coach of the Year: Derek Manon

Walt Whitman coach Derek Manon guided the Vikings to their program's first-ever unbeaten Class 4A state dual championship season in February and a 12th overall ranking by Legacy Wrestling, feats that have earned him Class 4A-3A Coach Of the Year honors.

The Vikings handled Montgomery County rival Springbrook, 36-33, in the state dual semifinals before winning their title match, 33-31 over 18th-ranked Broadneck of Anne Arundel County to earn their program’s second state dual meet crown.


As a result, the Vikings (19-0) went unbeaten for the first time in school history under 17th-year coach Derek Manon, who has 204 career dual meets victories.


“It was a magical season for sure. The way this team came together and everyone got to a weight class that was perfect for them before our first dual meet was amazing,” said Manon, whose Vikings were state tournament runners-up in 2009. "Each wrestler in our lineup was unselfish and incredibly hard working. There were so many incredible moments, and capping off the season as an undefeated dual meet team was special."


Manon’s Vikings have won two county tournaments as well as four regional dual meet crowns during his tenure as head coach. Manon’s assistants are Will Sharbaugh, Mitch Fenton and Raymondo Williams.



Sharbaugh was a Class 4A-3A state champion with a 37-0 record in 2006, this a year after leading the Vikings to the Class 4A-3A state duals and tournament crowns in 2005 all under coach Andy Wetzel.


This year’s Vikings crowned 113-pound sophomore Solomon Randall as a Class 4A-3A state champion, a feat that improved on his third place finish as a freshman.


Ranked fifth by Legacy Wrestling at 113 pounds, Randall ran his record to 43-1 with 32 falls, winning his title bout, 4-3, over Springbrook senior Ricky Dixon.


Randall used falls in 51 and 98 seconds as well as a pin in 3:55 to reach the finals against Dixon, a third place finisher in the Montgomery County Tournament who was first in the Class 4A-3A North Region.


Randall had won titles in the Montgomery County and Class 4A-3A West Region after having placed third in each as a freshman.


With a two-year record of 80-4, Randall broke the 18-year streak since Sharbagh was a state champion for the Vikings in 2006.


“Of course, having an individual state champion in Solomon Randall was incredible,” Manon said. “It helps to cement our season as one of the greatest Whitman wrestling teams ever.”

Others wrestling well this season for the Vikings were seniors Jacob Gaum (126), Meran Elakel (144), Jon Aron (175) and Levi Merenstein (190), freshmen Kelani Ramos (100/106) and Jabasie Trice (120) and sophomore Chris Lindstrom (132).


A female wrestler who competed in the all-girls postseason tournaments, Ramos was first at counties and regions and finished second at states. Ramos had a record of 24-14 with 14 pins.


Aron was first at counties and second at regions, Elakel was second at counties and regions and fifth at states, Trice and Lindstrom each place fifth at counties and fourth at regions, Merenstein was fourth at counties, and Guam was third at counties after having placed second and fifth at states as a sophomore and junior.


Guam and Aron played major roles during the Vikings’ state dual semifinals.

Gaum scored a 16-1 technical fall, and 13-6 decision over Broadneck's county runner-up and regional champion, junior Cam Williams. Aron pinned twice to help the Vikings to clinch both victories.


Aron's 26-second fall against Springbrook gave the Vikings an insurmountable lead of 36-21 with two bouts remaining.


Against Broadneck, Aron's pin in 1:59 was followed by that of sophomore Andy Boshnick (215) in the second period for an insurmountable lead of 33-19 with two matches left.

Other double-winners for the Vikings against Springbrook and Broadneck were Elakel and junior Justin Rommel (138). Elakel had first- and second-period pins, while Rommel won a pair of decisions.


"After coming up short at the state duals three years in a row back in the early 2010s, I knew how hard it was to get back there,” Manon said. “Our team has come together in such an amazing way,” Manon said. “This year, that was very special. They’ve had a belief and a confidence among them all season that has been special to watch. They are truly an amazing group of young men and women to coach.”


In January, the Vikings won the 20-team Patriot Classic at Northern-Calvert High School, crowning Randall, Trice, Elakel, Aron and junior Laird Ostien (165) and won the overall title by placing seven wrestlers within the top three of their weight classes and 10 within the top six.


"Andy Wetzel and the coaches before him built the foundation of an always hard-working, tough and respectable program. I’m just so happy that I can continue that tradition. It has been 19 years since Wetzel won the team’s first state title. I'm so happy to continue a winning tradition at Whitman high school," Manon said. "As a program, I think it shows our younger wrestlers that hard work truly does pay off. It is something that we preach every day and every season and the young pups in the room see it every day from our seniors and leaders on the team. The kids truly have worked extremely hard, and it is just so gratifying to see that hard work pay off in such an amazing and special way.”

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