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Montgomery Focused on Repeat Performance

Northern's Drew Montgomery will enter the host Patriots' 30th-Annual Patriot Classic Wrestling Tournament as a defending Class 4A-3A state champion for the first time.

But the 138-pound two-time state finalist with a career record of 104-4 denies feeling any duress, and, in fact, appears to embrace the status as something that comes with the uniform.


"I don't really allow the expectations to decide how I wrestle a match," said Montgomery, who is ranked fourth by Legacy Wrestling. "I am 17 and I won 9 youth state titles. The pressure has been the same for all the years that I've wrestled."

Northern's first-year coach Cam Watkins knows a little bit about talent, being a former champion in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, Maryland Independent Schools States and Class 4A-3A State tournaments who was once a National Preps Tournament runner-up.


"Drew is a tremendously talented wrestler and a hard worker," said Watkins, 37. "I've known Drew for only a few weeks, but I know that he's a good student and that he has all of the ingredients that you need to be successful."


Montgomery is 17-3 on the year with 10 pins and two technical falls, with a career record of 104-4. Montgomery spent the initial part of last month at St. Mary's Ryken, where he posted a record of 9-3 before returning to Northern.



While at St. Mary's Ryken, Montgomery placed third at the December 1-2 Ray Oliver Tournament at McDonogh, where he lost, 2-1, to MIAA runner-up and third-place private schools state finishing sophomore Zane Leitzel of Archbishop Spalding.


"To be successful, you can't be afraid to fail," said Montgomery, who also competed at last month's prestigious Beast Of The East Tournament. "I wrestled at the Beast Of The East and went 2-2, losing to the fifth and seventh place finishers."


Watkins also knows what it is to wrestle for different high schools, having competed for DeMatha, McDonogh and Magruder of Montgomery County before graduating in 2005.

As a DeMatha freshman and sophomore, Watkins was twice a champion in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, a runner-up and a champion at private school states, and a second and third place finisher at National Preps.


As a junior at McDonogh, Watkins was an MIAA champ and a state runner-up, and as a Magruder senior, a Class 4A-3A state champion with a record of 40-0. Watkins wrestled from 2005 to 2010 at Old Dominion University, where he majored in sports management. Watkins later coached at Virginia high schools Grafton and Poquoson, St. Paul's of Baltimore, Georgetown Prep of Montgomery County, and St. John's of Washington, D.C.


Watkins hopes to coach Montgomery to his second straight state title at Northern, where he calls assistants Tony Hipzer, Rich Holzer, Mike Leadbeter and Mike Yankovich and Rich "just a blessing to be around."


Going 44-1 as a 106-pound freshman, Montgomery won the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference and regional crowns before finishing second at states. Montgomery went 3-1 at states as a ninth-grader, pinning his first-round opponent in 1:58, winning a 12-3 major decision in the quarterfinals, and decking his semifinal rival in 2:38.



In the state finals as a freshman, Montgomery lost, 4-2, to junior Ayden Smith of Sprinbrook, whose reversal with 10 seconds remaining secured a victory that improved his record to 37-1.

As a sophomore Montgomery was even more determined, winning his second consecutive SMAC and regional titles before adding the 113-pound state championship with a dominant, 10-4, decision over Einstein sophomore Stone Yuen, who slipped to 35.3.

Montgomery used falls in 60 and 66 seconds to reach the quarterfinals as a 10th grader before blanking senior female wrestler and eventual fourth-place finisher, Alexandra Szkotnicki of South River, 4-0, after having twice pinned her earlier in the season.

Northern's program began under coach George Miller in 1984, and has since been guided by Denny Nosker, Blaine Adams, Tom Pavia, Steve Ditmars, FrankYoung and John Battle in advance of Cam Watkins.


Longtime assistant Mike Leadbetter was hired for the 1993-94 season by Adams, who happened to be his school coach at DuVal High before he graduated in 1982 as a Prince George's County and regional champion who also placed third at states. Leadbetter's DuVall squad won a tournament championship in 1982, crowning individual title winner Brian Comer (138), with Leadbetter and Ralph Collington (Hwt.) finishing third, and Don Donahoe (105), fourth.


Leadbetter assisted at his alma mater from 1986-through-90, assisted at Gwynn Park in 91, and became head coach for the Yellow Jackets in 92 and 93, Leadbeter's sons, Collin and Brant, are among three Patriots' male wrestlers who are two-time Class 4A-3A state champions. Jason Gabrielson won a pair in 1996 and 1997, Colin won consecutively in 2006 and 2007, and Brant earned back to back crowns in 2012 and 2013.


Brianna Holcomb is the lone female wrestler to win a pair of state titles, doing so in 2022 and 2023. Montgomery and girls' wrestler Emma Hardeman made the state finals as freshmen, joining Brant Leadbetter as the second and third Patriots' grapplers to do so.

Now a junior, Hardeman became the first female Patriots' wrestler to win a state title as a freshman while Montgomery was a runner-up.


Montgomery made up for that as a sophomore, becoming the first sophomore to win a state title. With Brant having been a runner-up as a freshman, Montgomery could become the Patriots' first four-time finalist, if not, their first three-time state champion.


"I believe that the most wins in Northern High history is held by Collin at 147 wins," coach Mike Leadbeter said. "Beyond that, I know that my sons, Quentin and Brant are each 130-plus wins. Drew Montgomery, absent any injuries or illnesses, should surpass those numbers."

Leadbetter will witness the 30th-Annual Patriot Classic Wrestling Tournament, whose 19-team field comprises Great Mills of St. Mary's County; Severn and St. Mary's-Annapolis from Anne Arundel County; Lackey and McDonough of Charles County; Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Walt Whitman of Montgomery County; Calvert, Patuxent and Northern of Calvert County; and Bowie, C.H. Flowers, DuVal, Frederick Douglass, Laurel, Oxon Hill, Parkdale, Roosevelt and Surrattsville from Prince George's County.


Calvert is coached by Mike Free, a state champion for Duval in 1990. St. Mary’s is coached by Northern High graduate Edwin Randall, who placed third at states in 2007.

Top wrestlers may include Calvert's fifth-ranked seniors Brian Davis (132) and Cornell Johnson (215) along with their 15th-ranked senior teammate Cortez Miller (285). Johnson was second at Class 2A-1A states and Davis was third.


Hailing from Whitman are 11th-ranked sophomore Soloman Randall (120) and 11th-ranked senior Jacob Gaum (126). Randall was third at Class 4A-3A states and Gaum was fifth.

There is also Bowie's fourth-ranked junior Jamill Morrow (215) and Severn's eighth-ranked junior Nick Melfi (132). Morrow was third at Class 4A-3A states and Melfi was fourth at MIAAs and fifth at states.


Individual Champions

1996 Jason Gabrielson

1997 Jason Gabrielson

2004 Randy Oates

2006 Collin Leadbeter

2007 Collin Leadbeter

2009 Jeff Williams

2012 Brant Leadbeter

2013 Brant Leadbeter

2013 Eric Hoffman

2014 Brendan Coughlin

2022 Emma Hardeman

2022 Brianna Holcomb

2023 Brianna Holcomb

2023 Drew Montgomery


Northern-Calvert's Team State Champions

1994 MPSSAA Class 4A-3A State Tournament State Champions

1995 Class 4A-3A State Dual Champions


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