Wyoming Seminary ends Blair Academy’s National Preps title streak at 33

Updated: February 27, 2014

By Rob Sherrill

The longest team title streak in American high school sports history was so long that no high school wrestler in the last 15 years was even alive before it began.

But trees don’t grow to the sky. And every streak ends, eventually.

With seven finalists and titles from two-time champion Nicky Hall (182) and Jake Scanlan (285), Kingston (Pa.) Wyoming Seminary outscored Blairstown Township (N.J.) Blair Academy, 299.5-256.5, to win the National Prep Championships after finishing second to the Bucs for the past five seasons – and six of the past seven.

The Bucs’ average winning margin in those six seasons was 99.5 points, and four of their wins were by 102 points or more. None of that mattered last weekend at Lehigh University.

Blair, wrestling without three injured starters, including three-time National Prep champion Joey McKenna, had three champions — three-time champion Matthew Kolodzik (126), Mason Manville (152) and Dylan Milonas (160) — but couldn’t match Sem’s depth. Another Blair defending champion, Charles Tucker (120), lost 3-1 in the final to freshman Eric Hong of North Bethesda (Md.) Georgetown Preparatory.

Also winning their second titles: Jack Mueller (113) of Dallas (Texas) Trinity Christian Academy, Jack Mutchnik (132) of Brooklandville (Md.) St. Paul’s, Alfred Bannister (145) of Forestville (Md.) Bishop McNamara and Myles Martin (170) of Owings Mills (Md.) McDonogh School, who received the Gerald Leeman Award as the meet’s Outstanding Wrestler.

Illinois sets record with three four-time champions, Brill dominates

Illinois had never crowned three four-time champions in a single season … until last Saturday.

Johnny Jimenez (126) of Aurora Marmion Academy and Jered Cortez of Carol Stream Glenbard North did it in back-to-back matches in 3A, and as Cortez was making history at one end of the State Farm Center in Champaign, Josh Alber (132) of Dakota was making it at the other end in 1A.

Alber, four dual state series matches away from becoming the first Illinois wrestler to complete a perfect high school career, had two pins and two major decisions.

Bryce Brill (152) of 3A Chicago Mount Carmel “only” won his third title, but he dominated his weight class as few have.

Brill (45-0), who extended his winning streak over parts of three seasons to 95, had a first-period fall and three major decisions. Brill did not win a match by fewer than nine points this season. His closest wins: 15-6 over Luke Fortuna of Montini, whom he teched twice and majored twice, and 14-5 over Trace Carello of Marmion Academy, who three times lost to Brill by major decision.

 Montini, Oak Park-River Forest tie records

With its five individual champions, Montini tied the all-time record for one state tournament that it already shared with Mahomet-Seymour and Marmion Academy.

Oak Park-River Forest tied the record for the state’s largest classification with its four champions — Isaiah White (138), Larry Early (145), Kamal Bey (160) and Davonte Mahomes (170) — and their 10 place-winners set another big-class record.

There were two upsets in the state’s loaded heavyweight class. In 3A, Adarios Jones of Moline rode out defending champion Brian Allen of Hinsdale Central in the ultimate tie-breaker, a match that ended 2-2. And in 2A, defending champion Tanner Farmer of Highland used a powerful half-nelson to roll Michael Johnson of Montini to his back for a second-period pin.

 Cortez’s historic run follows a different script

When he was destroying one opponent after another in the state tournament as a sophomore and a junior, as well as before and afterwards, many joked that Jered Cortez was probably better on one leg than most wrestlers are on two.

They’d have preferred not to have seen that become a reality, though.

Clearly limited by the oversized knee brace he wore throughout the state tournament, Cortez couldn’t rely strictly on his superior athletic ability to overpower his opponents. He had to rely on guts, grit and guile instead.

Basically, that involved becoming the tournament’s best wrestler in the top position.

After being thrown to his back by Hoffman Estates Conant’s Bobby Alexander in the semifinals — almost giving up near-fall points — Cortez scored a reversal and rode Alexander the final minute-plus of the second period. Starting out the third period on top, Cortez easily controlled Alexander for another rideout to salt away a 5-2 victory.

Then came the final against New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central’s Joey Nelson, who exhibited some grit of his own by going toe-to-toe with Cortez for seven minutes. A pair of escapes were the only scoring through six minutes, with Nelson fighting off nine Cortez shots successfully.

No Illinois wrestler who entered the state tournament as a senior with three state titles had ever been unsuccessful in his bid for a fourth. Yet the possibility that Nelson might now achieve the unthinkable existed.

In the first 30-second tie-breaker, Cortez finally generated some offense from the bottom, scoring what would turn out to be a match-winning reversal nine seconds into the period. He rode Nelson out, then added a rideout in the second tie-breaker to preserve a 3-1 victory.

On paper, it was nowhere near as impressive as Cortez’s first three state title runs. A second look, though, tells a different story.

Sometimes, becoming a four-time state champion requires mental toughness and finding other ways to win. That’s how Cortez sealed the deal.


Ditto for Iowa’s Stroker

Few expected Fredy Stroker’s 3-1 victory over Jake Koethe of West Des Moines Valley in the Class 3A final at 132 to be that close.

Figure in that Stroker wrestled the match with a torn MCL in his right knee, according to the Quad City Times, and it seems a little less far-fetched.

Stroker (52-0) injured the knee in his semifinal match against Keegan Shaw of Runnells Southeast Polk, which ended with a 50-second pin. He announced the results of Monday’s MRI on Twitter, adding: “I’ll get fixed up soon and be back better than ever.”

The four points Stroker scored in the championship match were the difference in the Bulldogs’ 152-148 victory over Southeast Polk. Waverly-Shell Rock (151.5 points) finished a close third.


Ervin makes history in Kentucky

Sticking with the 132-pound class, senior Brock Ervin not only helped Morganfield Union County to the team title, but he became the state’s first five-time champion. The winner of the Orville Williams Outstanding Wrestler award, Ervin finished the season 47-1, racking up three first-period pins and two technical falls.

Fellow senior Nathan Boston (120) of Versailles Woodford County and junior Austin Myers (220) of Alexandria Campbell County were similarly dominant, each pinning four of his five opponents to win their third state titles and finish their seasons 46-0. Boston added his second Kentucky title to the one he won in Indiana as a freshman. Myers needed just 68 seconds to pin his first four opponents — two came in under 10 seconds — before recording a technical fall in the finals.

Eighth-grader David Carr (126) of Woodford County started a title run that could match Ervin’s, beating two-time defending champion Trae Blackwell of Woodford County 7-4 to finish 47-1. Carr’s father is former Iowa State great Nate Carr.

This weekend’s slate: Michigan Minnesota, Ohio on tap

The next-to-last weekend of state tournament action features quality, rather than quantity, though there are plenty of great meets set to unfold.

In addition to meets in big states such as Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio, all-state meets take place in three New England states: the State Open in Connecticut, the All-State Meet in Massachusetts and the Meet of Champions in New Hampshire. Those meets bring the classes together for the purpose of qualifying the state’s representatives to the New England Championships next weekend at Providence, R.I.

In all, 21 states have all or part of their state tournaments this weekend.

Also on this weekend’s docket:


Connecticut: State Open, Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at Floyd Little Athletic Center, James Hillhouse HS, New Haven.

Hawaii: Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at Blaisdell Arena, Honolulu.

Idaho: Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Idaho Center, Nampa.

Illinois: Dual, Mar. 1 at U.S. Cellular Coliseum, Bloomington.

Kansas: 6A and 5A, Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at Hartman Arena, Wichita; 4A, Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Bicentennial Center, Salina; A-2A-3A, Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at Fort Hays State University, Hays.

Massachusetts: All-State, Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at Tsongas Arena, Lowell.

Michigan: Individual, Feb. 27-Mar. 1 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Minnesota: Feb. 27-Mar. 1 at the Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul.

Nebraska: Dual, Mar. 1 at the University of Nebraska, Kearney.

New Hampshire: Meet of Champions, Mar. 1 at Pinkerton Academy, Derry.

New York: Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Times Union Center, Albany.

Ohio: Individual, Feb. 27-Mar. 1 at the Ohio State University (Schottenstein Center), Columbus.

Oklahoma: Individual, Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds Arena.

Oregon: Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland.

Rhode Island: Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Providence Career and Technical Academy.

South Carolina: Individual, Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Anderson Civic Center.

South Dakota: A, Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City; B, Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Barnett Center, Aberdeen.

Vermont: Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at Mount Anthony HS, Bennington.

West Virginia: Feb. 27-Mar. 1 at the Huntington Civic Center.

Wisconsin: Individual, Feb. 27-Mar. 1 at the University of Wisconsin (Kohl Center), Madison.

Wyoming: Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at the Casper Events Center.