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March 1: Girls Notebook!

Archbishop Spalding freshman Taina Fernandez led by a combined 19-0 before pinning all four opponents to win the 126-pound weight class of last weekend's National Preps Tournament at the Stabler Center on the campus of Lehigh University.

Fernandez led, 2-0, before getting a 56-second fall, and 5-0 before pinning in 1:44. Fernandez led her semifinal bout, 7-0, before finishing Thalia Vogelsang of Episopal, Texas in 2:19, and her title match, 5-0, before decking Blair Academy's Victoria Carbonaro in 2:25.

Fernandez became only the second Maryland girl to win a National Preps title, joining John Carroll's Julianne Moccia, winner of the inaugural girl’s division in 2020.

“It feels great to win National Preps as a freshman, but on the other hand, as a freshman, I’m still not satisfied,” said Fernandez, who improved her overall record to 34-1. “Looking back, I’m proud of my performance and I’m doing my best to stay focused while feeling my flow more and more as the tournament progressed.”

Fernandez began this season with a third place finish among 126-pound boys at the December 1-2 Ray Oliver Tournament at McDonogh.

Fernandez went 5-1 with two pins and a major decision at McDonogh, where her lone loss of the year was by, 7-5, to Archbishop Spalding teammate Sean Garretson, a junior Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champion and private schools state runner-up who finished fifth at 126 pound in the National Preps Tournament.

Fernandez wrestled back from her loss to Garretson to finish third thanks to a 5-3 decision over sophomore Drew Roggie of St. Christophers of Virginia.

Roggie has finished sixth and seventh at the National Preps, the latter following a 3-1 decision over private schools’ state champion Tyler Wood of St. Mary's Ryken, who has twice pinned Garretson.

Also in December, Fernandez won the 130-pound title at the second-annual girls Beast Of The East Tournament, officially becoming the first Maryland female to win that event. In that event, Fernandez used falls in 22, 41, and 91 seconds on top of a 14-1 major decision at the Bob Carpenter Center on the University of Delaware's campus in Newark, Delaware.

Fernandez ended the year 2023 in late December by winning the prestigious Ken Kraft Midlands Women's Championships at the NOW Arena in suburban Hoffman Estates, Ill.

At the Midlands, Fernandez defeated four collegiate opponents by as many technical fall victories, outscoring them by a combined, 42-1, for the 130-pound title.

Fernandez scored consecutive 10-0 techs over first-round opponent Jimena Serna of Morton College and quarterfinals' rival Nichole Moore of McKendree University. Moore is a 2022 Under-23 National champion, a 2023 Under-23 World team member, and a two-time NAIA All-American, according to FloWrestling.

In the semifinals, Fernandez delivered a 12-1 tech over Aurora University's No. 1 seed Lexi Janiak, a 2023 Under-20 World bronze medalist and 2023 NCWWC (NCAA) finalist. Fernandez won her championship bout, 10-0, over North Central All-American Salome Walker.

Two other Maryland girls joined Fernandez in reaching the National Prep podium. West Nottingham Academy’s Reagan Ramadan was a runner-up to Blair’s Sarah Henckel at 152lbs. Bella Sowards of Good Counsel placed third at 132.

Ugochi Anunobi goes for third state title

Randallstown senior two-time all-girls state champion Ugochi Anunobi (170) pinned her way to her third straight regional crown, earning the Class 2A-1A North Regional crown at South Carroll last weekend.

Anunobi used falls in 20 seconds, 1:43 and 2:58. Anunobi's performance qualified her for third trip to this weekend's all-girls tournament at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, whose inaugural event was held in February 2018 by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association at Northeast High.

Anunobi returned from a trip to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs last month, and can become known as 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.

Hyman earned the 187-pound title as a sophomore in 2019 with a 9-8 decision over Perryville's Kali Shiflett that followed a 14-1 major decision over Ilyanna Anderson of Charles H. Flowers. As a junior in 2020, Hyman won a 164-pound clash of defending state champion by pinning Sawyer Graham of C. Milton Wright in 5:54.

Anunobi earned her initial state title as a sophomore at the all-girls state championships at 155 pounds despite having to overcome an injury to her left shoulder during her 13-9, championship victory over Elizabeth Heglar of McDonough.

As a junior, Anunobi earned her state championship victory with a 7-4 decision over previously unbeaten Azariyah Johnson of Stephen Decatur, this, after reaching the finals on pins in 27 and 32 seconds before winning her semifinal bout by 16-1 technical fall.

Although the seeding for the all-girls tournament is listed on, the following is a quick glance at the top returning state place-winner in each weight class.

Senior Faith Day (100) is the clear favorite to repeat as a state champion in her weight class, having emerged as the title winner from the Class 2A-1A West. But on the other side of the bracket is Class 2A-1A East Region title winning junior Aly Conley of Queen Anne’s, who was a state champion as a freshman.

At 105, Class 4A-3A East Region champion senior Jada Chaves of Arundel returns to the weight class where she was a state champion as a sophomore. Chaves could face a stiff challenge in the finals from the winner between Class 2A-1A West North Regional title winning freshman Aubrey Ohler of Liberty and Class 4A-3A South Region titlist junior Violet Land of Marriotts Ridge .

Perry Hall junior Alaina Kopalchick (110) won her Class 4A-3A North Region crown and looks for redemption after being a state title-winning freshman but not repeating last season.

Southern junior Domenica Gladwell (115) emerged as Class 2A-1A West Region champion in pursuit of her second consecutive state title, whereas Class 4A-3A East Region title-winning junior Emma Hardeman (120) of Northern seeks to regain the state title she missed out on last year after winning it as a freshman.

Crofton junior Lexy Pabon (125) looks to repeat as champion after winning her Class 4A-3A East Region title. But Pabon could have a semifinal bout with junior Clara Freeman of Hammond, a Class 2A-1A West Regional champion who placed fourth at states last year.

Freeman shares a common opponent with Pabon, who won a clash of state champions, 8-7, over Hardeman last month. Hardeman 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 Hardeman, who was a state runner-up last season.

Where sophomore Class 2A-1A East Region champion junior Mable Woodgeard of Parkside (130) is up a weight from 125 pounds where she was a state runner-up last year, Boonsboro senior Amelia Mikus (135) won the Class 2A-1A West Region title and returns to the class wherein she was last year's state champion.

Westminster's Class 4A-3A North Regional champion junior Taylor Mead will attempt to win her second straight 140-pound state title, although senior Class 2A-1A North Region title-winning senior Addie Kraics of Francis Scott Key lurks on the other side of the bracket after having been last season's 145-pound state runner-up.

Mead already has pinned Kraics in 1:12 of their Carroll County title bout earlier this month, but things could go differently if each manages to reach the finals. LaPlata junior Daisy Rojas (145) won the Class 2A-1A South Region and returns to the weight class where she was fourth a year ago, Watkins Mill senior Nebi Tsarni looks to repeat as a 155-pound champion after winning the the Class 4A-3A West Region crown, but Winters Mill junior Gabbie McLeod won the Class 2A-1A North Region, placed fifth at 145 last year, and has been a pinning machine all season.

Watkins Mill's junior Jabea Ewane won the Class 4A-3A West Region title and looks to repeat as a 190-pound champion, but junior Azariyah Johnson of Stephen Decatur won the Class 2A-1A East Region crown and was a state runner-up at 170-pounds last season.

Northern-Calvert junior Emily Boling (235) won the Class 4A-3A East Region title and returns to the weight class where she was a state runner-up last year.

Lions Roar

Queen Anne's wrestling team qualified a school-record and state-high 12 wrestlers out of their Class 2A-1A East Region led by tournament champions Conley (100), sophomore Bree Conard (115), freshman Finley Patchett (125) and junior Keira Corcoran (135).

Below is a list of the Lions' qualifiers and their accomplishments:

  • Junior Ally Conley (100) - Won Bayside Conference and third regional title

  • Sophomore Bree Conard (115) - Conference runner-up, avenged loss to Parkside's Brylee Davis for the regional title

  • Junior Ava Price (120) - Conference and regional runner-up

  • Freshman Finley Patchett (125) - Third in conference, region champ

  • Senior Delaney Gray (130) - Conference and regional runner-up

  • Junior Keira Corcoran (135) - Conference and regional champ

  • Senior Julia Reburn (140) - Conference champ, regional runner-up

  • Sophomore Lilly Hammond (145) - Conference and regional runner-up

  • Sophomore Addie Dickens (155) - Third in conference, fourth in regionals

  • Sophomore Morgan Morris (170) - Fourth in conference, regional runner-up

  • Junior Kaylynn Bryant (190) - Conference and regional runner-up

  • Sophomore Maggie Rooney (235) - Conference runner-up, third in regionals

When Marriotts Ridge junior Violet Land (105) pinned her way into winning last weekend's Class 4A-3A south championship at Laurel High School, she accomplished her feat at the alma mater of her father, David, who had flourished as a wrestler by earning state titles in high school and All-American honors in college.

With David Land serving as an assistant alongside Mustangs’ head coach Vince Muscato, Violet registered falls in 33 and 72 seconds along with another at 5:16 of her title bout.

Violet Land's effort qualified her for this weekend's all-girls varsity state tournament at The Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro.

The regional crown was Violet's second over the course of an eight-day span, this after she had pinned three boys to win a 106-pound Howard County title in the junior varsity tournament at Wilde Lake High. At counties, Violet had falls in 58 seconds, 2:55 and in 3:02 of her championship match.

Long before wrestling was a viable sport for females in Maryland, David Land was both a two-time state champion in the late 1980s and twice a collegiate All-American in the early 1990s.

David Land competed at 98, 105 and 112 pounds as a wrestler at Laurel High, graduating in 1989 after having won a pair of 98-pound AA-A state titles.

David Land was also a two-time All-American at the University of Maryland, graduating in 1993 after placing seventh and eighth at 118 pounds in the NCAA Tournament. An assistant to first-year head coach Vince Muscato, David Land was a catalyst as the Mustangs (191 points) overcame runner-up Glenelg (178.5) at Wilde Lake to win their first-ever Howard County tournament title.

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