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HS Girls State Championships!

Photo Credit: Thank you Trinity Killip!

Seniors Nebi Tsarni (155) of Watkins Mill and Ugochi Anunobi (170) won their third straight crowns with repeat champions being senior Aly Conley (100) of Queen Anne’s, senior Jada Chaves (105) of Arundel, junior Dominica Gladwell (115) of Southern-Anne Arundel and senior Lexy Pabon (125) of Crofton in last weekend’s all-girls’ state tournament at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.

Others winning titles were juniors Anastasia Dakoulas (130) of Rockville, Alexandra Ford (135) of Laurel, Daisy Rojas (145) of LaPlata, Azariyah Johnson (190) of Stephen Decatur and Emily Boling (235) of Northern-Calvert, freshmen Madison Birth (110) of Havre de Grace and Aubrey Spadoni (140) of Quince Orchard and senior McKinley Jovanovic (120) of Montgomery Blair.

Conley was joined by third-place junior Kaylynn Bryant (190) and fifth-place freshman Finley Patchett (125) as the Lions (119 points) overcame runner-up Oakland Mills (86) for the team title in an event that was scored for the first time since its inception for girls in 2018.

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.

Junior Kaylynn Bryant (190) was third, and freshman Finley Pickett (125), fifth for the Lions.

“With Aly winning her second title and her match being the last match of the night was really exciting,” said coach David Stricker, whose Lions qualified a school-record and state-high 12 wrestlers out of their Class 4A-3A East Region. “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.”

Tsarni (21-3 record) used a fall in 3:07, a 21-5 technical fall and a pin in 3:19 to reach the finals, where she planted previously unbeaten Winters Mill junior Gabbie McLeod in 4:40. A fifth-place finisher last year, McLeod slipped to 20-1.

“The score was 25-7. I was taking her down and cutting her and then at the end I pinned her,” said Tsarni, 17, who will join her 21-year-old sister, Seda, at the Air Force Academy. “I feel a little sentimental. I had a conversation with my coach and almost cried. It’s been quite a ride with my school, being the last high school season and my last high school match.”

Tsarni is the country’s No. 1-ranked 144-pounder, having won September’s “Who’s No. 1” event. The fourth-born of seven children comprising three younger siblings, Tsarni has three older sisters, two younger brothers and a younger sister.

“I started wrestling in seventh grade with the Maryland Eagles at Bullis, and then I began wrestling at the Capitol Wrestling Club once in high school,” Tsarni said. “I’m a three-time National Fargo Champ in the Cadets the first two years and this past year was for juniors. I was named Outstanding Wrestler for juniors at Fargo. Two-time state champion.”

Tsarni split time between 157 and 165 wrestling against boys for the Wolverines during the season.

“Considering that I would have gone at 157 for boys, I thought about wrestling against the boys, but I can’t wrestle in both the boys and girls postseason tournaments,” Tsarni said. “I may have been able to place in counties but I’m not sure about in the states, but I already had two state titles to defend against the girls’ division, so I figured I may as well go out strong my senior year.”

Seda is a second-class cadet in her third year at the Air Force. Seda became the Wolverines’ first state champion, winning the crown during the inaugural all-girls’ state tournament in 2018. Younger sister, Kesi, 13, is an eighth-grader who will wrestle at Bullis next year.

Younger brother Salah, 15 is a freshman at Bullis who won titles in the Interstate Athletic Conference, Maryland Independent Schools States, placed seventh at the National Preps Tournaments and owns a victory over Class 2A-1A state champion Gavin Solito of Stephen Decatur, a three-time state finalist.

“My little brother was the first one to wrestle, and my older sister, Seda, joined the year before I did. Then my little sister and I started wrestling after her,” Nebi said. “The first year they had a separate state tournament for the girls, my older sister won it and became the first wrestling state champion in Watkins Mill’s history.”

Anunobi won her title, 4-2, over Stephen Decatur junior Chaniah, having reached the finals after an 11-1 major decision and pins in 72 seconds and 2:43.

“The match was a bit of a snooze-fest,” Anunobi said. “I was playing it safe because it was my first time wrestling her.”

Anunobi is the Rams' first three-time state champion under coach Earnest Davison, a Tulsa, Oklahoma native who wrestled at Morgan State from 1992-’97. Anunobi follows the Rams' first repeat champion, Jaylen Hyman, winner of titles as a sophomore and junior in 2019 and 2020 before attending Life University in Marietta, Georgia.

Anunobi returned from a trip to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs last month and will also attend Life University.

“I’m done and ready to engage in freestyle competition,” Anunobi said. “I’m sad that I won’t be seeing my teammates and the girls I started with anymore, but I’m happy to be done.”

Chaves earned a 69-second pin, a 6-4 decision and consecutive technical falls of 15-0, the latter, in her title match with Liberty freshman Aubrey Ohler.

A state champion as a sophomore, Chaves placed third among boys two weeks ago in the Anne Arundel County Tournament, becoming only the third girl to place among the top three against boys in that county behind county champions Nicole Woody (2007) of Arundel High and South River’s Alexandra Szkotnicki last season.

Chaves was not even a year old in February 2007 when Woody made history by becoming Maryland’s first girl to win a county and regional title and to finish as a Class 4A-3A state runner-up at 103 pounds.

Szkotnicki established herself as the second-most accomplished female wrestler since Woody by placing fourth at states at 113 pounds while wrestling against public school boys at the Class 4A-3A state tournament.

“I would like to speak on how excited I am seeing the women’s wrestling programs grow. I believe that if you want to legitimize girls wrestling, you need the best girls wrestling in the girls state tournament, which is why I chose to wrestle in the girls division. Unlike the coed division, the girls have only one true state champ,” said Chaves, who has placed fifth at the county tournament against boys as well as first twice and third once at the past three all-girls state tournaments. “Not only does it help girls set a goal, but it also shows them potential for continuing their athletic career outside of high school. After all, time doesn’t last forever, so we only have those four years to make it count because before you know it, it’s your senior year. After that senior year, there are big choices that many will have to make. With Maryland schools like Frostburg and McDaniels starting women’s wrestling programs, I truly can’t wait to see how this tournament grows in years to come.”

Gladwell earned an 8-1 decision over freshman championship rival Rileigh Romberger of Smithsburg, this, following a 12-2 major decision and falls in 3:23 and 4:32.

“I knew that she would come out aggressively and it was a good match. I just gave it my all and it turned out the way that I expected. Next year, I want to be a three-time state champion,” Gladwell said. “But right now, I’m at dinner celebrating with my parents and tuna tacos, which I haven’t had since the beginning of the season. I’m just enjoying myself and this feels really good.”

Pabon had falls in 77 seconds, 3:32 and 4:37, the latter in the finals over Frederick freshman Annika Emshoff.

“There were a few scares during the match because she was really good at defending my half-nelson,” Pabon said. “She was very strong, so it took a little while. Overall, I’m happy with how I executed my plan.”

Pabon won her semifinal, 13-0, over Hammond junior Clara Freeman, who finished third after fourth a year before and who shared a common opponent with Pabon. Pabon won a clash of state champions, 8-7, over former state champion junior Emma Hardemann of Northern-Calvert earlier this year. Hardemann had beaten Pabon in the state finals when they were freshmen. But later in January, Freeman scored a come-from-behind fall in 2:38 of her 125-pound title bout with Hardemann.

“I’m getting kind of used to the pressure and I’m not going to let it get to my head,” said Pabon, the Cardinals’ first state champion wrestler. “I’m very proud of that accomplishment and I’m learning to trust that you could be gunning for me, but it doesn’t matter.”

Johnson improved on last year’s runner-up finish to Ugochi with a 6-4 overtime championship decision that dethroned Watkins Mill junior Jabea Ewane as 190-pound champion. Johnson reached the finals on pins in 4:21 and 3:02 along with a 7-2 decision. Also a state runner-up last year, Boling won her crown with a 29-second fall against Old Mill junior Katrina Adhikari. Boling also had pins in 81 seconds, 1:40 and 2:27.

Jovanovic and Dakoulas improved on their third place finishes of a year earlier. Jovanovic earned a 9-4 title bout victory over Hardemann, who was a runner-up last year after being a state champion as a freshman. Jovanovic reached the finals following falls in 1:43 and 3:03 as well as a 10-2 major decision.

Dakoulas earned her title, 1-0, over Oakland Mills junior Franches Bonilla, having reached the finals on falls in 81 seconds, 2:45 and 3:16, the latter against former state runner-up junior Mable Woodgeard of Parkside.

Rojas had falls in 1:50, 3:54 and 1:11, the latter against Walter Johnson sophomore Sonia Pegoue for the title. A fourth-place finisher last year, Rojas also had a 9-6 decision over Richard Montgomery freshman Estrella Edwards, who finished third.

Spadoni emerged victorious from a weight class that included junior defending state champion Taylor Mead of Westminster, who was pinned in 3:03 of her semifinal with junior Samantha Semprun Sala of Atholton.

Spadoni pinned Sala in 3:21 of their title bout, this, after having reached the finals on pins in 66 and 96 seconds as well as on one in 3:18. Mead finished third.

Birth pinned her opponents in 3:05, 3:36 and 3:58 to reach the finals, where she pinned Wicomico senior Alayah Nuttal in 97 seconds. Birth avenged an earlier loss by pin with her fall in 3:36 of her semifinal with Eastern Tech junior Ariana Carnahan.

“I felt like my semifinals match was more stressful and made me more nervous because I had lost to her a month ago. Last time, I had an injured shoulder,” Birth said. “I didn’t know what sort of things she did, and I had to feel her out. It was close, but I lost. This time, I feel like I came out wanting it more, not being scared and just going at her.”

Birth also continued a family wrestling legacy. Her father, Scott, was a state champion for Bel Air in 1992, and uncle, Chris, a state champion for Bel Air before graduating in 1990.

“I’m definitely going to have a target on my back for the girls and the guys,” Birth said.“The guys aren’t going to like me beating them and the girls are going to be proud if they beat me.”

Ford earned her crown with a 10-4 decision over Oakland Mills senior Trinity Butler. Ford had reached the finals on falls in 66 seconds and 2:43 as well as an 8-2 decision over Boonsboro senior Amelia Minkus, who was a state champion last year.

Team Scores

1 Queen Anne`s 119.0

2 Oakland Mills 86.0

3 Francis Scott Key 82.0

4 Eastern Technical 80.0

4 Stephen Decatur 80.0

6 Watkins Mill 66.5

7 La Plata 65.0

8 Winters Mill 61.0

9 Crofton 58.0

10 Montgomery Blair 57.0

11 Northern-Cal 54.0

11 Richard Montgomery 54.0

13 Quince Orchard 51.0

14 Manchester Valley 47.0

14 Tuscarora 47.0

16 Smithsburg 44.0

17 Havre de Grace 43.0

18 Walter Johnson 42.0

19 Colonel Richardson 41.0

20 Southern-AA 38.0

21 Mountain Ridge 35.0

22 Arundel 34.0

22 Frederick 34.0

22 Paul Laurence Dunbar 34.0

22 Westminster 34.0

26 Boonsboro 33.5

27 John F. Kennedy 33.0

28 Atholton 32.5

29 Northeast 32.0

29 Old Mill 32.0


1st Place Match

Alexandra Conley (Queen Anne`s) 21-5, Jr. over Kelani Ramos (Walt Whitman) 20-12, Fr. (Fall 3:34)

3rd Place Match

Faith Day (Manchester Valley) 23-2, Sr. over Faith Croson (La Plata) 14-4, Sr. (Dec 2-0)

5th Place Match

Bryn Cespedes (North Harford) 20-14, Jr. over Brooke Jones (Kenwood) 16-9, Jr. (Fall 1:48)


1st Place Match

Jada Chaves (Arundel) 32-6, Sr. over Aubrey Ohler (Liberty) 20-5, Fr. (TF-1.5 4:00 (15-0))

3rd Place Match

Leian Wright (Western School of Technology) 18-2, Jr. over Layla Lagunas (Manchester Valley) 20-4, Sr. (Dec 3-0)

5th Place Match

Isabella Peluso (Watkins Mill) 15-5, Fr. over Jada Agurs (Gwynn Park) 16-5, So. (Fall 2:53)


1st Place Match

Madison Birth (Havre de Grace) 30-8, Fr. over Alayah Nuttall (Wicomico) 17-11, Sr. (Fall 1:37)

3rd Place Match

Ariana Carnahan (Eastern Technical) 16-5, Jr. over Alaina Kopalchick (Perry Hall) 30-9, Jr. (Fall 4:37)

5th Place Match

Juliana Wong (Richard Montgomery) 18-5, Jr. over Alina Fang (Poolesville) 10-6, Fr. (Dec 7-0)


1st Place Match

Domenica Gladwell (Southern-AA) 22-5, Jr. over Rileigh Romberger (Smithsburg) 23-4, Fr. (Dec 8-1)

3rd Place Match

Alexis Nicholas (Walkersville) 25-10, Fr. over London Harps (Charles H. Flowers) 12-3, Sr. (Fall 2:09)

5th Place Match

Cielo Prieto (Richard Montgomery) 19-3, Jr. over Grace Ackermann (Crofton) 10-10, Jr. (MD 9-0)


1st Place Match

Mckinley Jovanovic (Montgomery Blair) 29-0, Sr. over Emma Hardeman (Northern-Cal) 9-3, Jr. (Dec 9-4)

3rd Place Match

Sophia Hodges (Northeast) 19-8, So. over Lilliana Mellinger (Kent Island) 14-3, So. (Dec 3-2)

5th Place Match

Isabella Garrity (South Carroll) 21-10, Jr. over Kayla Chin (John F. Kennedy) 17-7, . (Fall 1:17)


1st Place Match

Lexy Pabon (Crofton) 13-2, Jr. over Annika Emshoff (Frederick) 22-9, Fr. (Fall 4:37)

3rd Place Match

Clara Freeman (Hammond) 21-13, Jr. over Joni Chuka (Montgomery Blair) 24-7, Jr. (Fall 1:47)

5th Place Match

Finley Patchett (Queen Anne`s) 17-6, Fr. over Rachel Plata (Stephen Decatur) 13-5, Jr. (Dec 6-4)


1st Place Match

Anastasia Dakoulas (Rockville) 25-9, Jr. over Francheska Bonilla (Oakland Mills) 20-4, Jr. (Dec 1-0)

3rd Place Match

Keira Cooper (Francis Scott Key) 21-2, Sr. over Kaia Condon (Albert Einstein) 12-3, Jr. (Fall 0:27)

5th Place Match

Isabella Coe (Crofton) 14-6, So. over Renee Kim (Poolesville) 11-7, Sr. (Fall 4:23)


1st Place Match

Alexandra Ford (Laurel) 18-4, Jr. over Trinity Butler (Oakland Mills) 22-4, Sr. (Dec 10-4)

3rd Place Match

Jennifer Djobo (Eleanor Roosevelt) 10-3, Jr. over Jaianna Wickline (Mountain Ridge) 16-6, Jr. (Dec 7-4)

5th Place Match

Amelia Mikus (Boonsboro) 18-3, Sr. over Breyon Thompson (Crofton) 7-11, So. (Fall 1:55)


1st Place Match

Aubry Spadoni (Quince Orchard) 16-7, Fr. over Samantha Semprun Salazar (Atholton) 14-4, Jr. (Fall 3:21)

3rd Place Match

Taylor Mead (Westminster) 17-2, Sr. over Azaira Benjamin (Paul Laurence Dunbar) 8-9, Jr. (Fall 0:51)

5th Place Match

Addie Kraics (Francis Scott Key) 19-5, Sr. over Lena Black (North Point) 7-5, Jr. (Dec 5-1)


1st Place Match

Daisy Rojas (La Plata) 18-1, Jr. over Sonia Pegoue (Walter Johnson) 8-2, So. (Fall 1:11)

3rd Place Match

Estrella Edwards (Richard Montgomery) 12-1, Fr. over Skylar Zook (Reservoir) 12-5, So. (Dec 5-3)

5th Place Match

Elianna Stevenson (Mountain Ridge) 9-3, So. over Bryce Ferguson (Paul Laurence Dunbar) 10-10, So. (Fall 2:14)


1st Place Match

Nebi Tsarni (Watkins Mill) 18-3, Sr. over Gabbie McLeod (Winters Mill) 20-1, Jr. (Fall 4:40)

3rd Place Match

Anna Farr (Rising Sun) 16-2, So. over Amari Purnell (Stephen Decatur) 16-7, Fr. (Fall 4:58)

5th Place Match

Ejemeh Uiyoshioria (Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr.) 9-4, Sr. over Aliya Conner (Tuscarora) 12-10, Jr. (Fall 2:32)


1st Place Match

Ugochi Anunobi (Randallstown) 24-8, Sr. over Chaniah Bernier (Stephen Decatur) 19-2, Jr. (Dec 4-2)

3rd Place Match

Alexandria Ray (James Hubert Blake) 9-3, So. over Morgan Linton (Eastern Technical) 12-4, Jr. (Fall 4:48)

5th Place Match

Amirah Abegesah (Quince Orchard) 16-6, So. over Maddox Zuniga (Walter Johnson) 13-12, Jr. (Dec 3-1)


1st Place Match

Azariyah Johnson (Stephen Decatur) 19-0, Jr. over Jabea Ewane (Watkins Mill) 7-1, Jr. (SV-1 6-4)

3rd Place Match

Kaylynn Bryant (Queen Anne`s) 24-5, Jr. over Joana Lazaro (John F. Kennedy) 8-6, Sr. (Fall 4:33)

5th Place Match

Starlyn Shannon (Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr.) 10-4, Sr. over Emily Arboleda (Francis Scott Key) 20-8, So. (Fall 4:07)


1st Place Match

Emily Boling (Northern-Cal) 12-0, Jr. over Katrina Adhikari (Old Mill) 4-3, Jr. (Fall 0:29)

3rd Place Match

Brandi Gochenaur (Allegany) 10-2, Sr. over Ryleigh Porter (Colonel Richardson) 12-5, Jr. (Fall 1:21)

5th Place Match

Endya Williams (Lansdowne) 8-2, Jr. over Taylor Murray (Sparrows Point) 7-10, So. (Fall 0:17)

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