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For the Blessings, Wrestling is a Family Affair

Wrestling represents a comfort zone for Zach Blessing, younger brother, Troy, and their father, John.

Zach says, in fact, that the sport has a firm grip on the Blessings. And when Zach was hired as the head coach for Century in April, he chose his sibling and parent as his assistants.


“Wrestling has been a huge part of our lives for some time now.  It has shaped who we are as people and as a family,” said Zach Blessing, 27. “We have planned many occasions, trips and vacations around wrestling in order to be devoted to our current programs and to give back to our wrestlers. It’s the only way we know, and it takes a supportive cast from the top down.”


Zach Blessing enters his 10 th  year of coaching, having volunteered at Winters Mill from November 2015 through March 2018, assisted at South Carroll from November 2018 through September 2022, and volunteered at Francis Scott Key last winter from October 2022 through March.


“I wrestled for John Lowe at Winters Mill from 2011 through 2014 and was also a member of the football and baseball teams before graduating in June 2014,” Zach Blessing said. “I attended McDaniel College for my undergraduate degree and Goucher College for my master’s degree in teaching for special education. I am currently a special education teacher at Century.”


Zach Blessing was a junior varsity backup wrestler when Lowe’s Falcons won Class 2A-1A state tournament titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Blessing was a 195-pound senior in 2014 when his fourth- place finish helped the Falcons to win the Carroll County Tournament. 


“Zach was part of some of our best Winters Mill teams as an athlete back in 2011 through 2013,” said Falcons’ Lowe. “Zach was observant and grasped concepts quickly, later contributing as an assistant on our county championship teams from 2017 through 2019.”


As an assistant to Matt Thomas at South Carroll in 2022, Zach Blessing helped to guide that Cavaliers’ squad to a Class 1A state duals crown as part of a four-year dual meet record of 24-1 against county teams (67-11 overall).


“I’m very happy for Zach and his family,” said South Carroll’s present coach Bryan Hamper, who returns after guiding the Cavaliers to Class 2A-1A state tournament titles in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 before the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Association ceased scoring the event in 2018. “Zach has been a long-time assistant at some great programs, so for him to have a chance to build his own program will be a great opportunity. We’re excited to see their progress so far and look forward to competing against them in January.”


Zach Blessing will enter his third season next Spring as the Knight’s junior varsity baseball coach. With his father being his assistant in that sport, it was an easy decision that Zach would choose his Dad to be by his side for wrestling as well. 


“When I was hired to coach wrestling, I also knew that my father would be involved in some aspect. My father and I have coached baseball together for over six years now in addition to him having coached me for my entire life,” said Zach Blessing, who spent four years coaching junior varsity baseball at Winters Mill. “We currently coach the JV baseball team at Century and have a record of 30-2 over the last two seasons. My father isn’t around for every wrestling practice, but as a successful businessman, he attends all the matches and he’s a huge supporter behind the scenes from culture, fundraising, team building and overall support.”


Father and son agree that it can be difficult to decompress at home away from dual meet and tournament competition. That means that texting, if not, dinner time conversation often involves wrestling.

“Any time is a good time to discuss the team. As the Dad, you could have potential issues coaching with your sons if you don’t treat them as equals and not children. I do not cross that line,” said John Blessing, 54. “Among the most beneficial aspects of the role is that all of us have coached, played with many different people in our lives, so we have a large spectrum to draw information from.”

Troy Blessing was a two-time county champion and fourth-place regional finisher before graduating in 2018 from Winters Mill, where “my father and mother helped out behind the scenes with administrative support, fundraising, hospitality rooms and hosting tournaments,” according to Zach Blessing. 


“When I got hired at Century, I immediately knew that my brother would be part of the staff. He had expressed interest, but I pretty much did not give him a choice,” Zach Blessing said. “Troy had volunteered at South Carroll a little bit, but nothing like the day to day grind we are experiencing now. Having been a successful high school wrestler himself, Troy has fit in extremely well in our room.”


But that doesn’t mean there isn’t conflict among the family trio.


“We’ve all three forged our different paths and we’re very hard-headed,” Zach Blessing said. “If we’re together in the room, you get a wide mix of emotions. But we’ve matured, so that’s made us all better.”


Troy Blessing often relies on the wisdom of his father and sibling.


“This is my first experience coaching with my dad and brother. Those two have so much knowledge and coaching experience, it’s beneficial for me to be around them,” Troy Blessing said. “The challenge can be the stubbornness the three of us share. It’s always more challenging to change the conversation to anything other than wrestling. We’re all learning from each other, making us better coaches and more importantly, making the kids better wrestlers.”

In addition to the Blessings, the Knights have Dan Carr, a former head coach at Howard High in Howard County.


“Dan brings invaluable experience to our room and our program,” Zach Blessing said. “We are very fortunate to have a large staff at Century this season with a roster of eight coaches.”


The Knights are 3-2 with a victory over county rival Winters Mill that marks the first time Century has beaten the Falcons since 2015, said Zach Blessing, who has “10 of 14 starters with records of .500 or better and return to action at the December 28 Francis Scott Key Holiday Tournament.


The Knights are led by senior regional qualifier, Chidma Iziogo, who is 11-0 with seven pins. Sophomore Brayden Bell (120) has a record of 8-1 with four pins and is another regional qualifier. Senior Joey D’Orsogna (157) is another regional qualifier who, with a record of 7-7 (four pins) is “battled tested,” according to Zach Blessing.

“It’s obvious that Zach has a sound coaching mindset,” Lowe said. “That will certainly serve the Century wrestling program as it builds now and in the future.”

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