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Female Wrestling Coach of the Year!

Queen Anne's John Waters coached the Lions to the all-girls state wrestling championship in March, a feat that has earned him the inaugural Girls' Coach Of The Year honors by Legacy Wrestling.

Senior 100-pounder Aly Conley (100) became a repeat state title winner under the guidance of first-year coach Waters and assistant Dave Stricker.

In addition, the Lions (119 points) overwhelmed runner-up Oakland Mills (86) and the rest of the field for the team title at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro and an event that was scored for the first time since its inception for girls in 2018.

Waters' Lions qualified a school-record and state-high 12 wrestlers for states out of their region, and had state place-winners in 190-pound junior Kaylynn Bryant (third) and 125-pound freshman Finley Patchett (fifth).

Queen Anne's is the lone Maryland team to be acknowledged in USA Wrestling's Top 100 High School Women's Wrestling Teams, receiving Honorable Mention honors.

"As a team, our combined record at the state tournament was 33-21," said Waters, a 1996 graduate of Queen Anne's. "In addition, of our 21 losses, 15 of those were taken against wrestlers who finished within the top six of their weight classes."

Waters is a former state champion for the Lions as well, and his journey is best detailed by the man who lived it.

"I started wrestling as a sophomore in the 1993-1994 season, going 17-17 and placing fourth in the 3A-4A East Region. During my 1994-1995 junior season, I went 27-5 and placed second at regions and third at states," said Waters, a career 103-pounder.

"During the 1995-1996 season as a senior, I went 24-3 and won both the regional and state tournaments. I also took fifth at 108 pounds in the 1996 high school nationals and earned National High School All American honors."

Waters became the second individual of six to win a state championship for the Lions, following Kevin Barney (1991), and preceding both two-time title winners Matt Olauson (2013 and 2014) and Conley (2022 and 2024).

"Winning an individual or team state championship is a huge achievement no matter at which school you accomplish it, but being able to do it at your Alma Mater definitely makes it a little more special for me," Waters said. "To have won a state title as an individual who wrestled at Queen Anne's was a special accomplishment in itself. But to now be a coach of both a state championship team and another individual state champion is truly amazing."

Another fun fact is that Aly, Olauson and I share the same birthday of August 16."A state champion as a freshman, Conley pinned three of four opponents, including Whitman sophomore Kelani Ramos at 3:34 of their title bout. Conley won a semifinal clash of defending champions, 6-3, over senior Faith Day of Manchester Valley, who finished third.

“With Aly winning her second title and her match being the last match of the night was really exciting,” Stricker said. “That just put a cherry on top. Being able to do it with all of the girls that we had was the perfect ending to a very special three days of wrestling.”

Waters, 45, also coached Olauson as a longtime assistant to Mike Vlahos.

"Having coached Matt Olauson and now Aly Conley, with both of them being two-time state champions, has been a ton of fun and an awesome experience," Waters said. "I'm the first state champion to coach a state championship team as well as not having coached just one wrestler to an individual state championship at Queen Anne's County High School, but two state champions."

The Bayside Conference champion Lions went 11-0 in dual meets with victories over strong teams from Francis Scott Key, Oakland Mills, Westminster and Winters Mill.

"The Bayside hosted their first-ever girls tournament this year, and it's the equivalent to county tournaments. We won and had three champions in Aly Conley, Keira Corcoran and Julia Reburn," Waters said. "At the 1A-2A East Girls Regional Tournament we qualified 12 out of 14 wrestlers for states with four champs in Aly, Finley, Keira and Bree Conard. Six other girls took second, one more took third and two more placed fourth."

The Lions roared through their Class 2A-1A East Region led by tournament champions in Conley, Patchett, sophomore Bree Conard (115) and junior Keira Corcoran (135). Conley won her Bayside Conference crown as well as her third regional crown. Corcoran was also a conference champ, and Bryant, a runner-up in both the conference and the regional tournaments.

Patchett placed third in the conference. Conard was a conference runner-up, avenging a loss to Parkside's Brylee Davis for the regional title. Senior Julia Reburn (140) was a onference champ and a regional runner-up. Junior Ava Price (120), senior Delaney Gray (130) and sophomore Lilly Hammond (145) were all runners-up in the conference and the regionals.

Sophomore Addie Dickens (155) was third in the conference and fourth at the regional tournament. Sophomore Morgan Morris (170) was fourth in the conference and a regional runner-up.

Sophomore Maggie Rooney (235) was a conference runner-up who finished third in the regional tournament.The Lions placed 11 wrestlers within the top four to win their own Queen Of The Jungle tournament, with champions in Conley and Dickens.

Queen Anne's also won the Manchester Valley Tournament and finished fourth out of 66 teams at the Beast of the East Tournament, with Bryant finishing third, and Gray, fourth.

In addition, the Lions placed 10 wrestlers within the top four of the Kent Holiday Tournament, with Patchett and Hammond winning titles.

"Having the entire team and coaching staff getting to enjoy being state champions is definitely worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. Watching this team grow from practice to practice was something special. They got better every day," said Waters, whose other state qualifiers were Conard, Corcoran, Dickens, Gray, Hammond, Morris, Price, Reburn and Rooney.

"This team was led by our two senior team captains, Delaney Gray and Julia Reburn along with Aly. They displayed an amazing work ethic throughout the entire season. These trailblazers have made history and nobody can ever take this from them."

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