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St. Frances Wins East Coast Catholic Classic

St. Frances sophomore Isisah Womack (120) continued an impressive run during his initial season with the Panthers and was joined on the victory podium by sophomore teammate AJ Lopez (175) as the Panthers won last weekend's 17-team 2024 East Coast Catholic Classic at Benedictine College Prep in Richmond, Virginia.


The duo of underclassmen were among 10 wrestlers who placed within the top four of their weight classes for the seventh-ranked Panthers (228.5 points), who outpaced runner-up Trinity (214.5) of Kentucky and rebounded from losses to No. 1 Mount St. Joseph and No. 3 Archbishop Spalding during a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association quad meet on January 3.


Finishing second for the Panthers (9-3) were freshman Logan Brown (150) and junior Douglass Johnson (215), with third-placers in senior Walter Smith (144) and juniors Noah Shird (138), Chase Carpintieri (157) and Derrick Grant (165), and fourth-place efforts from Womack's siblings, freshman Joey (106) and senior Maurice (132).


“We’re a young team with two seniors competing in the toughest conference in Maryland," said second-year coach Doug McClain, 41, whose Panthers were fourth at last year’s Maryland Independent Schools State tournament. "I never really get too high or too low on any one particular event, but when you see the progression week to week in your team, it’s letting you know you’re moving in the right direction. The East Coast Catholic Classic was a competitive event that confirmed we’re still on track."

Isisah Womack used a 19-1 technical fall and a pin in 3:35 to reach the semifinal, where he blanked the eventual third-place finisher, Jacob Stewart of Peninsula Catholic, VA, by the score of 7-0.


Womack won his title bout, 4-0, over the host school's previously unbeaten Jameson Burns, who entered their bout at 3-0 after having pinned twice and won his semifinal bout by a 13-2 major decision.


The championship is part of a magnificent streak of victories for Isisah Womack, owner of victories over Anne Arundel County champion Trent Shipley of South River as well as top-ranked, returning MIAA and private schools state champion Jake Tamai of Mount St. Joseph.


Womack pinned Shipley, who slipped to 21-2 after having placed third at regions and fifth at states at 106 pounds for the Seahawks a year ago. The win over Shipley occurred during a 46-30 victory over the Seahawks as the Panthers won the December 27-28 South River River Duals.





In vanquishing the Seahawks of 24th-year coach Klessinger, the Panthers handled a program that is after its third straight state dual meet crown, and first as a 3A team after capturing the last two 4A titles. A five-time county tournament and seven-time county dual meet champion, South River finished at 16-2 a year ago.


Womack is a transfer from Richard Montgomery, where he was a regional champion, placed third in Montgomery County and fifth at states at 113 pounds. His current record of 28-3 includes a 4-3 decision over Tamai during the Panthers' loss to the Gaels.


"Against Tamai, I got the first takedown, but he got a reversal at the end of the first period to tie the match. In the second period, he got an escape and was ahead, but I took him down at the end of the second period and rode him out. We went neutral in the third period, and I was wrestling for the win," Womack said. "But I had to fight him off against a late takedown attempt and I was able to get the victory. The win over Tamai was big because I wasn't expected to win the match and it bumped me up in the rankings. It also made me so much more confident going into this last tournament. I was wrestling so much better and so much smarter."

Lopez used a 12-second fall followed by another in 2:37 before winning his semifinal, 2-1, over eventual third-place finisher, Yitzchak Ingram of DeMatha.

Lopez improved his record on the year to 23-7 following his 9-2, title-bout victory over Alex Miller of Saint John Paul The Great, who had pinned all three of his previous rivals to reach the finals.


Brown's record of 21-7 includes an 8-4 decision over highly-touted Ryder Kolat of Archbishop Spalding and an 8-7 victory over South River's Class 4A-3A East Regional Tournament runner-up Ben Ford.


Johnson used falls in 67 seconds, 2:50 and 3:06 to reach the finals, where his record slipped to 18-5 after falling in 55 seconds to Joshua Tringle of Trinity.


A fourth-place finisher at states last season, Carpintieri is coming off an 11-0 major decision over Charlie Gessford of Archbishop Spalding, who was a MIAA runner-up and placed fourth at states.


Jordan Williams (285) of DeMatha was the only other champion from Maryland in the event, which included teams from Connecticut, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.


A sophomore who finished fourth at private school states, Williams split pins in his quarterfinal and title bouts around a semifinal, 10-2, major decision to improve his overall record to 17-3 on the year.


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