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Maryland brings home Georgia Gold

Perry Hall’s Victor Marks-Jenkins was amongst a small Maryland contingent who traveled to Duluth, Georgia last weekend for USA Wrestling’s Frank E. Radar Southeast Regional. This, like the Northeast Regional we covered, is one of the qualifying tournaments for the Fargo Nationals in July.

Marks-Jenkins, who has tasted defeat just once in his high school career and won a state title this year, added more national accolades to his growing resume winning 16U Freestyle and Greco-Roman championships.

Freestyle is the style that compares the closest to Folkstyle, and is what Scorebook Live uses more heavily than Greco when compiling the national rankings. In winning both titles, the Gator took out the same foe, Indiana’s Lucas Boe, who competes for Lake Highland Prep in Florida during the season.

“We went over the kid’s (Boe) accomplishments when we saw the bracket posted on the internet anticipating hitting him in the finals,” Perry Hall and Punisher Wrestling Club coach Doug Yoakum said. “Track and Flo Wrestling have really shrunk the world in many ways. We knew it was potentially a national ranking type match up as Boe has a long list of accomplishments. Victor was focused and looking forward to facing him as he likes to wrestle elite guys.”

Boe was a late addition to Prep’s lineup and missed the big events in December and January but proved his mettle by placing third at 150lbs at the National Prep Tournament.

In FS, Marks-Jenkins handed Boe a 4-1 loss. To reach the finals, the sophomore won his other three bouts by 10-0 technical superiority, with no match lasting longer than 44 seconds.

Suffering defeat at the hands of “VMJ” (as he is known) were Georgia’s Timothy Brown III in the semis in 22 seconds, Tennessee’s Aiden Boyd fell in 44 seconds in the quarters, and the opening match with Trent Crisp of Tennessee ended after 40 seconds.

The GR competition came before the FS slate, but the results were similar for Marks-Jenkins, but more impressive in some respects. In the finals, VMJ took Boe out with an 8-0 technical superiority win. In FS, you need a 10-point margin for a “tech”. In GR, it’s an 8-point margin.

To reach the finals, Marks-Jenkins again faced Brown III in the semis, and actually went the distance, tallying a 7-0 decision. His other two foes were planted in the first period (FS & GR wrestle two, three-minute periods). In the quarters, Marks-Jenkins dropped Alabama’s Drew Adams in 22 seconds. The Round of 16 saw the Marylander post a 2:15 fall of Florida’s Julian Sierra.

Yoakum reflected on Marks-Jenkins Spring results and the number of high-quality opponents he is handing losses to.

“The guy he beat, (William) Brooks from Virginia, in the MAWA National finals dropped to 157 and finished second in FS. The 18U 165 FS champ and Greco runner up, (Benjamin) Weader from Virginia, was a Beast of the East place winner and Victor split with him this year. Also, in the last couple weeks Victor has run through two National Prep All-Americans in Malvern Prep’s Jack Chamberlain and West Penn Charter’s Greyson Catlow-Sidler with relative ease.”

C. Milton Wright’s Devin Sweeney, a state placer who trains with Marks-Jenkins, made the Southernly voyage as well. While his trip wasn’t as fruitful as his compadre’s, Sweeney went 4-4 over both competitions in what was his first taste of action on a scale this grand.

“Victor seems to be getting better weekly and who knows what his ceiling is but it’s a fun ride to be part of,” added Yoakum. “He was in-between weights for the US Open this year as U17 goes from 157 to 175 and is the only UWW age group without a 165ish class. Victor is and never has been a weight cutter and is right around 164-165 currently. The goal is to prepare for that event over the next 8-9 months and try to replicate what (Emmitt) Sherlock did this spring, which means lifting (weights) and adding some mass.”

“Victor doesn’t get too high or low on wins and losses. He never celebrates on the mat. (It’s) similar to what I remember about Brent Metcalf, who said he never wanted to let his opponent see him celebrate beating him because he didn’t want him to think it was a big deal. VMJ was glad he won and thought that Boe put up a good fight and was very strong. That always cracks me up when he says that because Victor is about one of the strongest people I’ve known. He has the grip (strength) of a grown man.”

As for what the rest of the Spring and Summer hold for the Traveling Gator, Yoakum offered this.

“Next up for Victor is the Southern Plains Regional in Kansas at the end of the month. (That’s) a chance to hit another area of the country and face guys we don’t know much about and add to his growing list of USAW titles. He’s won titles at the Northeast Regional (1X), Central Regional (3x), Southeast Regional (4x).”

“Over the years we stayed away from Northeast for the most part as many of the guys there he has faced at the PAUSAW series or during folkstyle season and it’s same old, same old a lot of times. New faces, new opponents, and new challenges are what keeps it fresh. I find these types of events are good to see how other states wrestle and prepares you for national competition.”

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