Standing on top of the podium at North Point High School on March 5, Severna Park senior Patrick Ellis knew that the moment was proof that four years of effort had finally paid off. Ellis won the Class 3A/4A state wrestling title for the 220-pound class, beating a previously undefeated wrestler, South River’s Lonnell Owens-Pabon.
“The title wouldn’t mean anything to me if it weren’t for how much effort was put in to win it,” Ellis said. “This was my first title, and over the past four years, I put blood, sweat and tears into getting it.”
Falcons wrestling coach Trevor Bryden saw that hard work firsthand.
“I have always believed that hard work pays off,” Bryden said. “But still, with all our hard work and effort, rarely do we reach the pinnacle of our sport. Rarely do we end our season with a string of wins. Rarely do we find ourselves at the top of the podium. So to have all that time and effort, all that sacrifice and dedication, to see all that come together at the end of the season when it means the most, well it’s just something special. And it’s not a feeling we and Patrick will ever forget.”
Owens-Pabon had beaten Ellis twice this season — once on a self-described poor decision by Ellis in the final seconds of the match and the second time, Ellis said, during a regionals match that he lost intentionally so he could see how offensive he could be against his opponent.
Those matches allowed Ellis to assess weaknesses Owens-Pabon might have.
“His main weakness was that he would use all his energy early because he was used to pinning all of his guys, so I decided to play defensively, and by overtime, he was completely drained of energy,” Ellis said. “That and he would go for double underhooks. Everything he did was a transition to an underhook, which he would use to leg trip. This meant that he would try to take a shot and then immediately go straight to underhooks from the bottom headlock position or try to snap me down and then underhook me when I was to recover.”
While Ellis said that the support from his coaches and teammates helped him immensely, he felt that what he had learned from Danny Ives, his jujitsu coach, was just as important to his success.
“He taught me a lot of foundational techniques that helped me win all my matches throughout the past 13 years of my life,” Ellis explained. “He’s a man I respect a lot and I can’t thank him enough for all that he’s done for me.”
Ellis wasn’t the only wrestler Severna Park sent to states. He was joined by sophomore Nathan Kohler and junior Shannon Briggs, along with senior Andrew Trull, who was first alternate but never got the chance to wrestle.
Briggs placed fifth in the girls 190-pound weight class while Kohler was unable to place in the boys 152-pound weight class.
“It meant a lot for me to be able to participate in states,” Kohler said. “Even qualifying for the state tournament was far beyond my personal expectations for the season. I was able to create a very strong bond with the team and build meaningful connections. While I unfortunately did not place at states, I’m still very proud of the progress both I and the team made throughout the season.”
With the wrestling season over, the focus now shifts to the offseason. For underclassmen like Kohler and Briggs, shifting focus to the offseason gives them something to work toward.
“I am planning on having fun at the tournaments this offseason to get into a more positive mentality before my senior season,” Briggs said.
Coach Bryden considers the offseason to be an important step in helping his wrestlers continue to grow and develop.
“The foundation of success is built in the offseason,” Bryden stated. “The only way to get better at wrestling is to wrestle. That is our message to our underclassmen. If they want to be where Patrick was, on top of the podium, or even if they want to be on the podium at all, they need to be actively trying to get better.”