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South Carroll bests Middletown

South Carroll’s top-ranked Class 2A-1A state champion sophomore JoJo Gigliotti (138) scored an 11-3 major decision over Middletown’s seventh-ranked state runner-up junior Alex DeVriendt as the two-time defending Class 1A state dual meet champion Cavaliers handled the 8th-ranked Knights, 37-27, on Friday night.

The 20th-ranked Cavaliers’ 24th consecutive victory included pins by the third-ranked state runner-up junior Evan Owen (132), 17th-ranked freshmen Brody Henry (126) and senior Kaden Cyrus (157).

There were also decisions by Cavaliers’ sophomores Landon Hamper (165) and Anthony Rodrigues (175) and junior Angelo Marchany (157). Rodrigues, a sixth-place state finisher, is ranked seventh, Hamper, son of coach Bryan, is ranked 16th, and Marchany is ranked 24th.

Sixth-ranked state runner-up sophomore Grayson Barnhill (113) received a forfeit for the Cavaliers, who improved to 17-0 after having also vanquished 11th-ranked Manchester Valley, 33-27.

Pinning against the Mavericks were Barnhill and Gigliotti, with major decisions from Owen, Rodrigues, and Henry. Against the Mavericks there were also decisions from Hamper, Marchany and Cyrus, the latter in overtime, 3-1, over Kameron Reid. In victory, the Cavaliers improved their ranking to eighth by Legacy Wrestling, dropping the Knights to ninth, and the Mavericks to 12th.

“Our team’s been recovering from a lot of things, injuries and things like that,” Owen said. “We’re at the point now, though, where we’re coming together and starting to get better.” The Cavaliers were runners-up at last month’s 15-team Parkside Invitational to 25th-ranked Montgomery County power Damascus by the score of 332-329.5 before rebounding to win the January 12-13 Friars Duals at Archbishop Curley.

“Our lineup had been skeletal until recently,” said Cavaliers coach Bryan Hamper, a 2001 South Carroll graduate who was twice a state champion and twice placed fourth at states. “We have had injuries and guys who have been sick at different times this year. It hasn’t been until recently that we’ve begun to have full participation to the point where we’re able to beat these good teams.”

The Cavaliers are after their third consecutive Class 1A state duals championship, having earned last year’s with a 46-30 victory over a Northern-Garrett County Huskies squad which entered at 25-0.

South Carroll finished at 33-1 last season, having earned its seventh straight dual meet victory following a 36-25 loss on Feb. 2, 2023, to visiting top-ranked private school power Mount St. Joseph, which came from behind to improve to 9-0 and end the Cavaliers’ winning streak at 61 consecutive matches.

The Cavaliers have since graduated three-time state champions Gage Owen (145) and AJ Rodrigues (170), two-time titlist Mike Pizzuto (138), and one-time title winner Rylan Moose (182), all of whom are wrestling in college.

Hamper coached his alma mater to Class 2A-1A state tournament titles in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 before the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association ceased scoring the state tournament in 2018.

Hamper called last year’s Cavaliers’ squad “one of the most talented returning teams I’ve ever seen in the state of Maryland.”

Henry leads the Cavaliers with a record of 27-0 followed by Barnhill at 13-0. Gigliotti is 33-1, Landon Hamper is 27-1, and both Owen and Rodrigues are 30-3. Marchany is 25-5 and Cyrus is 24-5.

“After last year, there was an expectation that we’re always going to be good,” Owen said. “We’re coming together to the point where we know that we can compete with any team and we’re still among the best teams in the state.”

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