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Sumo Wrestler Now Undefeated Folkstyle Standout

Bowie junior Jamil Morrow transitioned to folkstyle wrestling from Sumo, the style he was exposed to as the son of a Japanese mother.

Morrow’s parents met in Japan. Their son was later born in the United Kingdom before moving to America as a 4-year-old.

"I started Sumo wrestling at the age of seven because my grandpa did it," said Morrow, whose African American father is a teacher who is retired from the Air Force. “My start in Sumo wrestling was basically out of curiosity, but I continued to do it because I happened to be good.”

Morrow started wrestling at Bowie for similar reasons. And Morrow happens to be good at it.

“I thought wrestling would help my sumo wrestling career. That's why I started,” Morrow said. “Wrestling is one guy against another. It’s a very honest sport where people who put in the work will be rewarded.”

In two seasons, Morrow has placed second and first at the Prince George’s County Tournaments, second and third at regions, and third at the Class 4A-3A state tournament.

"I never stopped improving, which has motivated me. I'm fully prepared and I will win the states this year," said Morrow, who is 21-0 with 15 pins and a technical fall. "This isn't out of overconfidence or anything. It is strictly putting myself into the mindset that I will prepare myself to be at that level."

Morrow, who can become Bowie’s first state champion since 132-pound Nathaniel White in 2018, believes that he can become only the third Bulldog wrestler to win a pair of state titles, joining three-time champion Stanley Proctor and two-time title-winner Norman Brown.

Proctor won titles at 138 pounds in 1983, 145 in 1984, and 155 in 1985. Brown won crowns at 155 in 1984 and 167 in 1985.

The Bulldogs (9-0) are coached by Bowie alumnus Shomari Stewart and assistant Javan White.

White won counties three times, placed first and third at regions, and third at states before graduating in 2015 as a 106-pounder. Stewart finished third at counties and fourth at regions and states as a 170-pound senior in 2014.

“Jamil has an amount of talent and a tremendous work ethic that is out of this world. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Stewart, a middle school physical education teacher. “That’s why I believe that Jamil has the best chance of being a two-time state champion of anyone since Norman and Stanley.”

There is also the mentorship of Bulldogs’ alumnus Dave Pottorff, who became the program’s fourth of an eventual 18 individual state champions in 1977.

Pottorff twice placed third at counties before winning that title, earned three regional crowns, and placed third and fourth at states before winning as a senior.

Pottorff's career record of 67-5 included four overtime losses and three to eventual state champions along with his never having lost a dual meet match.

The Bulldogs became state powers not long after Pottorff’s graduation, winning AA-A tournament championships in 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984.

Bowie’s individual champions in 1980 were Marty Bowser (126), Jimmy Williams (138) and Maurice Ross (155). In ‘81 there was Kevin Hosey (119). Proctor and Steve Arslanian (145) won crowns in ‘83, with Proctor and Brown doing so in ‘84.

“I helped to coach Shomari and Javan during their entire careers at Bowie,” Pottorff said. “I like the direction in which they’re taking the team. The proof is in how well they’re all doing.”

The Bulldogs also feature the senior Giron siblings, Angel, 17, and Alan, 18, are former junior league standouts in their first high school seasons. Angel is 17-3 with 12 pins mostly at 126, and Alan is 14-2 with 11 pins at 138.

Last fall, the Girons starred in soccer as First-Team All-County members. Angel scored 11 goals and assisted on nine others as a striker for the Bulldogs, while Alan scored three and assisted on two as a center defensive midfielder.

"I started wrestling when I was about four years old. In junior leagues, I qualified for third and fourth several times,” Angel Giron said. “I came back to wrestling because I missed the sport and because of the rush that it gives me when I win my matches. I also came back because of the lessons it has taught me.”

Angel Giron is 17-3 with 12 pins, having won the Northern-Calvert Patriot Invitational and placed fourth in the Boonsboro tournament at 132 pounds. Angel’s record includes a first-period pin over High Point’s Jonathan Robles, a third-place finisher at regions.

"I aspire to be a public-school state champ because I would be the first to ever do it in my family. That would make my parents proud of me,” Angel said. “Most importantly, I would be proud of myself because after taking a massive break from this sport, I will have managed to become a state champion.”

Alan Giron, 18, the elder of the siblings, is 14-2 with 11 pins, having finished second at both the Northern and Boonsboro tournaments.

"I started wrestling when I was about five years old. I won first place in the MIDWAY and I was a MSWA state finalist," Alan said. "My whole family convinced me to wrestle one more time for my high school senior year before actually leaving the sport behind."

The Girons followed older brother Axel, 22, into the sport. A 2019 graduate of Landon High, Axel was a two-time Interstate Athletic Conference champion, twice placed third at private school states and was fourth at the NHSCA nationals as a junior.

"My oldest brother has an influence on my decision to return to this sport," Angel said. "Knowing how I see him as one of my biggest role models in life, I try my best to follow in his footsteps even though I want to pursue a different career."

Axel transferred from Bowie's county rival Parkdale, where he placed second at the Class 4A-3A state tournament as a sophomore after having twice county and region titles.

"My older brother was a huge influence on me. I have always looked up to him, watching his matches, especially when he went away for nationals. I remember watching Axel when he was losing badly and getting dominated. But Axel pinned the guy in the last period," Alan said.

"That match inspired me to do the best I can even when everything isn’t going well. I aspire to achieve similar success as my brother. This is going to be my final season of wrestling and I want to leave everything on the mat just like my brother has always told me.”

Morrow went 18-4 as a first-year freshman, finishing second at counties and Class 4A South Regions. Morrow lost both finals to Eleanor Roosevelt senior Sean Isangedighi. Morrow reached those regional finals as a ninth-grader after pins in 34 and 42 seconds before losing, 7-6, in overtime to Isangedighi.

Although Morrow went 0-2 at states as a freshman, he lost, 6-0, to eventual fourth-place finishing senior Chase Schultz of Linganore and, 2-1, to eventual sixth-placing sophomore Charlie Trenkamp of Churchill.

Morrow went 30-4 last season. His record included winning counties, 5-2, over Keith Nowlin of Wise and placing third at regions. Morrow also owned a 9-7 decision over eventual Class 2A-1A state runner-up Cornell Johnson of Calvert.

Morrow placed third at last year’s regional tournament, where he went 3-1 with a pin. That regional record consisted of Morrow pinning his first-round opponent in 5:16, losing, 9-4 to the eventual champion and sophomore Gasper Romero of Great Mills, and winning his next two bouts, 4-3, and 9-3.

At states last year Morrow went 5-1 with two pins, finishing third. Morrow won his first bout by 9-1 major decision before losing his quarterfinal match by 5-3 to Samuel Jordan of Mount Hebron. Jordan later won his state title bout, 1-0, over Seneca Valley junior Wayne Tabb.

Morrow went 4-0 in the consolation rounds comprising falls in 1:38 and 4:15, a 3-2 revenge victory over eventual fifth-place state finishing Romero, and a 9-2 triumph over Howard junior Caleb Snype for third place.

The difference in winning and losing to Romero was “all about the mindset.”

"That loss to Romero had me frustrated. I was a scared wrestler and made too many mistakes,” Morrow said. “That led to me beating myself up. But it has been all about the mindset after that.”

Morrow is focused on navigating a field that includes the second-ranked Tabb, the ninth-ranked Romero, and fifth-ranked junior Isaac Ogunlade of Albert Einstein, a sixth-place finisher at states at 195 pounds last season.

“I need to make it back to the states,” Morrow said. “Since I've beaten Romero,” Morrow said, “I've had a mindset of, 'I can't lose.'”

Bowie’s state champions

Three-time champ

1983 Stanley Proctor 138

1984 Stanley Proctor 145

1985 Stanley Proctor 155

Two-time champ

1984 Norman Brown 155

1985 Norman Brown 167

Individual champs

1970 Mike Bray 130

1974 Gene Bates 155

1976 Pete Ong 98

1977 Dave Pottorf 132

1978 John Ong 105

1979 Andy Stone 119

1980 Marty Bowser 126

1980 Jimmy Williams 138

1980 Maurice Ross 155

1981 Kevin Hosey 119

1983 Stanley Proctor 138

1983 Steve Arslanian 145

1984 Stanley Proctor 145

1984 Norman Brown 155

1985 Stanley Proctor 155

1985 Norman Brown 167

1988 Robbie Waldman 126

2018 Nathaniel White 132

AA-A championships





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