The 2016-17 wrestling season was a difficult one for the Cougars. Coach Green, now 144 wins and 99 losses in his ten-year career at Catoctin High School, compiled a 4 and 10 regular dual meet record and an overall season total of 6 and 23, not exactly the stellar returns that Catoctin wrestling fans have grown accustomed to. For a team that has shared so much success in recent years, these uncharacteristic numbers are both disheartening and deceiving, but do nothing to take away the heart and steadfastness that Catoctin wrestlers possess. Disheartening, because Green and his long-time assistants, Coach Gialanella and Garrett Baer, were permanently hobbled by fielding an ultra-thin line-up, and the shrinking number of participants resulted in forfeiting 36 points per match, making winning as a team next to impossible. Deceiving, because six of eight squad members would win 65 percent or more of their individual bouts, a remarkable statistic considering had Catoctin engaged a complete line up, even with wrestlers losing without giving up pins, the team scores would have been tighter and, in all probability, more than a few of the losses suffered could have been victories. As a result, the Cougars fell from the Maryland State Wrestling Association’s overall and dual meet rankings, but did manage to hold onto an honorable mention spot as a tournament team—again, due to the fortitude of the young men representing the team. In head-to-head matches, however, the tough and competent squad fared remarkably well and 14 of the 23 losses suffered this year fell within the 36-point deficit, an attribute to the resolve of the individuals that took to the mat in this year of rebuilding. Of the eight wrestlers on the team, only one failed to advance to the regional tournament, and five qualified for the state championships.
At the Bauerlein duals, the Cougars were victorious in only one match as a team, but individual results were much more positive. Zachary Bryant, the 113-pound junior, swept the competition to remain unbeaten in seven matches. Jacob Baker suffered only a single loss during the tournament, and Wyatt Payne and Josh Small registered only two losses. At the Hub Cup—still regarded as one of the toughest tournaments around—a notable six of eight Cougar wrestlers advanced to the medal rounds, including RJ Monaghan and Jacob Baker, taking 5th place; Ethan Fuss and Wyatt Payne each securing 4th; Joshua Small settling for 3rd place after a loss in semi’s; and Zachary Bryant taking 2nd place with a loss in finals. Catoctin still placed 8th as a team in a field of twenty-two squads, a testament to the quality and grit of the Cougar wrestlers. Although the team would win only a single match at the Catoctin duals, the team’s home tournament, the individual wrestlers would continue to perform above expectations. RJ Monaghan would remain undefeated in all eight matches; Ethan Fuss, Zachary Bryant, Jake Baker, and Josh Small would lose only one match apiece.
Frederick County has witnessed the unprecedented perennial success of its high school wrestling programs in recent years, achievements that are simply unequaled anywhere else in the state. The ten public high schools in Frederick County are continually setting new standards for wrestling excellence throughout the state. This year, eight of the twenty-eight state champions represented Frederick County—that’s almost one quarter of all the champions. Montgomery County, which has the largest number of public high schools in the state with twenty-five, produced only three state champions, and all came from the same school. Last season, Frederick County sent thirty-four wrestlers to the state tournament and twenty-two of them placed. The year prior to that, Frederick County boasted ten finalists and five state champions. It is no wonder then, why the Frederick County wrestling tournament is often more competitive than the ensuing regional and state tourneys. Catoctin took 4th place as a team, and all but one of the Cougars made the medal rounds. Zach Bryant and Travis Fields each remained unbeaten en route to their county titles. Fields, a freshman and a fifth-seed underdog, was also honored with the Fred Burgee Award, presented to the tournaments most outstanding wrestler, marking the third time in six years that a Catoctin wrestler was honored with that award (Charlie Perella 2012, 2015). RJ Monaghan, Ethan Fuss, and Wyatt Payne each suffered only one loss early in the competition, to secure 3rd place. Jake Baker and Josh Small both placed 4th. Matt Linker, the 220-pound freshman, failed to advance, but saw plenty of varsity action during his opening year. He finished with a 9-18 record in a very unforgiving weight class for a freshman.
The Cougars secured a 7th place team finish at the 1A-2A West Regional Tournament out of seventeen clubs, not a daunting result considering the teams’ lack of entries. The 1A-2A West is—and statistics back it up—considered to be the best region for wrestling in the entire state. In the past three years, almost half (41 percent) of all place-winners at the state championships represented one of the seventeen schools in this region, 103 of 252. In addition, 62 percent of all state champions (26 of 42) represented the region. Furthermore, there were thirteen 1A-2A West regional final rematches in the state finals, including one particular rematch this year at 113 pounds, a testament to the consistent high level of toughness of the wrestlers that this region continues to produce. Zachary Bryant claimed his first regional crown, along with the number one seed for states, after a first round bye, a first period pin in quarter’s, a 9 to 5 decision in semi’s, and a 10 to 1 major in finals. Ethan Fuss and Josh Small both wrestled back to 3rd place after losing one match a piece. Fuss would drop his quarterfinal match in a close 4 to 2 decision, but win two in a row by decision to advance to states. Small lost his first bout by fall, but qualified for states by winning his next three, two by decision and one by pin. Jake Baker and RJ Monaghan each took 4th place, punching their tickets to be included in the sixteen-man bracket for the state tournament. Baker would lose his first match, win two more by decision, only to face the same opponent he lost to earlier with the same result. Monaghan’s fate would mirror that of Baker. Dropping his first match by fall, Monaghan would win his next two bouts with a pin and a 7 to 1 decision, and lose a second time to his opening opponent, but this time by a very close 5 to 4 decision.
Wyatt Payne, the 145-pound sophomore, was only a point away from qualifying for states. He lost his opening bout by two points, won by seven in his next match, and lost a close 2 to 1 decision in consolation quarter-finals. Payne continues to improve as he won eight regular season dual matches this season. He went 4 and 2, winning some notable match-ups and taking 4th place at the Hub Cup, finished 5 and 2 at the Bauerlien Duals, and placed 3rd in the county tournament. Selected as an honorable mention to the Frederick News Post All-Area team, he concluded his season with a 21 and 12 total, winning 69 percent of his matches, and bumping his career record to 42 wins and 28 losses.
Like Payne, Travis Fields came up short at the regional tournament, suffering a 9 to 2 loss in the preliminary round. The 132-pound freshman showed promise by winning 56 percent of his matches, including eight regular season duals. He was victorious in three bouts at the Hub Cup, three at the Bauerlien Duals, and five at the Catoctin Duals. He stunned the crowd by sweeping the bracket at the Frederick County tournament, winning not only a county title, but the outstanding wrestler award as well. He posted a 22 and 16 record on the season, and secured an honorable mention bid to the Frederick News Post All-Area team.
Catoctin was able to achieve a 7th place team finish among some ninety-nine public high school wrestling programs, and advanced two of the five state qualifiers to the medal rounds during the state wrestling championships, held for the second year at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. One wrestler would lose a single match in semi-finals, but fight back to take 3rd place. The other would pin his way to finals and become Catoctin’s 8th individual state wrestling champion.(Shane Tiffany 1995, Seth Chilson 2010, Tim Nordan and Charlie Perella 2013, Wayne Wivell and Charlie Perella 2014, and Perella again in 2015).
Placing 4th last year as a sophomore, Ethan Fuss, the 126-pound junior, made his second appearance at the state tournament. Fuss lost his preliminary match, but showed composure by pinning his next two opponents, knowing that his next loss would eliminate him from the contest. He slipped from the medal rounds after a 9 to 3 loss in the following session. Fuss, whose wrestling style is both fearless and exciting, won five regular season dual matches this season, placed 4th at the Hub Cup, went 4 and 3 at Bauerlien, and finished 7 and 1 at the Catoctin Duals. He placed 3rd in both the county and regional tournaments, earning him a bid to the Frederick News Post All-Area 2nd team. He achieved a record of 28 wins and 15 losses on the year and is creeping toward the 100 win mark, with a career total of 89 victories and 31 defeats. He concludes the year with a ranking of #21 in the State by the Maryland State Wrestling Association.
Jacob Baker, the 160-pound freshman, was 1 and 2 in his first appearance at the state tournament. He was defeated in his first match by the eventual state champion, won a 10 to 2 decision in the consolation bracket, but was defeated in his next bout and bumped from the competition. The Frederick News Post All-Area 2nd team nominee had a stellar debut to his high school wrestling career, winning 11 of 14 regular season dual matches, placing 5th at the Hub Cup, and registering only one loss at both the Bauerlien Duals and the Catoctin Duals. He placed 4th in the Frederick County Championships, 4th in the regional championships, won 68 percent of his matches, and finishes his freshman season with a 32 and 13 record.
RJ Monaghan made his first appearance to the state tournament as a junior, representing the 170-pound weight class. He was defeated in his first bout by a one-point, 3 to 2 decision to the eventual 4th place finisher. He scored 18 points to overwhelm his next opponent with a third period technical fall, but failed to advance to the medal rounds, with another close 3 to 2 loss. The exceptionally strong Monaghan, who is ranked at #25 in the state by the Maryland State Wrestling Association and recognized as a Frederick News Post All-Area 2nd team member, posted a regular dual meet record of nine victories and five defeats. He placed 5th in the Hub Cup, went 4 and 3 at the Bauerlien Duals, and was a perfect 8 and 0 at the Catoctin Duals. He placed 3rd in the county, qualified for states by placing 4th at regionals, finished the season with a 29 and 16 tally, and now has a career total of 60 wins and 43 losses.
Joshua Small, the 152-pound junior, is no stranger to the state tournament. His name has appeared in the state bracket three times. As a freshman, he came away empty handed, but last season, he was able to earn a hard-fought 5th place medal. This year, he would build on that success with two straight wins out of the gate, both by pin, in prelim’s and in quarter’s, guaranteeing himself a spot on the podium. After a 5 to 1 decision loss to the state runner-up, Small would put together two more consecutive wins, a 13 to 3 decision and a 6 to 4 final, to secure a 3rd place finish in a field where the top three medalists all hailed from the 1A-2A West. Executing a basic, no-nonsense style of wrestling, Small won 9 of 14 regular season dual matches, suffered only one loss for a 3rd place finish at the Hub Cup, sported a 5 and 2 record at the Bauerlien Duals, and went 7 and 1 at the Catoctin Duals. In championship events, he placed 4th in the county, 3rd in the region, and took 3rd at states, resulting in a 1st team nomination to the Frederick News Post All-Area team. Ranked at #17 in the state by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, Small wraps up his junior year with 33 wins versus 13 losses, bringing his career total ever closer to the 100 win mark, with 93 victories and 36 losses.
Zachary Bryant is the lone member of the current Catoctin squad that sports a state championship medal for each of his high school wrestling seasons. The deceivingly strong and exciting risk-taker would settle for a 4th place finish during both his freshman and sophomore years, but this year he would realize his potential. Wrestling as the number-one seed in the 113-pound weight class, he would simply dominate his first three opponents in true Bryant fashion, with an aggression that could not be matched, claiming victory by fall in each contest. In finals, Bryant would face an opponent that he had derailed just a week earlier. He prevailed with a 6-3 decision, a score that seems much closer than the action actually showed; when his hand was raised, Bryant officially became Catoctin’s 8th Maryland state champion wrestler. Bryant’s remarkable statistics include a perfect 11 and 0 undefeated regular dual meet total, as well as a flawless 7 and 0 showing at the Bauerlien Duals. He would lose a close finals match at the Hub Cup, settling for 2nd place and finish with one loss, going 7 and 1 at the Catoctin Duals, his only loss of the year to a fellow Maryland high school wrestler. Winning 95 percent of his bouts, the Frederick County champion, 1A-2A West regional champion, and Maryland state champion, Bryant would post a 37 and 2 season record, bringing his career totals to 105 wins and 17 losses. He was honored with a 1st team bid to the Frederick News Post All-Area team and is currently ranked #2 in the state by the Maryland State Wrestling Association.
Zachary Bryant, 113-pound Maryland State Wrestling Champion
Josh Small takes 3rd place at Maryland State Wrestling Championships.
Zachary Bryant, 113-pound Maryland State Wrestling Champion.