Sam Ziff took over the Severna Park head coaching job while brimming with pride.
After all, he has a history at the school. Ziff wrestled with the Falcons from 2010 to 2013.
“There’s something special about coaching at your alma mater,” said Ziff, who replaced Trevor Bryden. “It will be a fun experience.”
Ziff brings a lot of knowledge with him. He won two county titles and a state championship, wrestled for Division I Edinboro University and served two years as coach at Meade.
He believes he has a nucleus for building the Falcons into a consistent winner.
“We have the right kids to build the culture around, where the kids buy into the sport,” Ziff said.
Ziff hopes to mold five freshmen into champions: Jonathan Wark (152 pounds), Michael Queen (120), Aiden Holley (132), Andrew Vonk (126) and Daniel Doney (138).
Holly and Doney are products of Green Hornets wrestling.
“They are already displaying they have the fortitude and ability necessary to be successful,” Ziff explained.
Queen is off to a 19-3 start.
“He is just naturally gifted,” Ziff said. “He is lengthy, very strong for a lot his opponents and has such a feel for wrestling.”
Senior Jake Fritz (182), Bobby Howe (160) and Nathan Kohler (152-160, second in region last year) and juniors Joshua O-Dennel (170) and Nolan Buhler (220) also are wrestlers to watch.
Ziff has been especially impressed with Fritz.
“He has the ability to just go,” the coach said of Fritz’s main strength. “He has no off-switch. He is a really strong kid and will be in your face the entire time.”
Coach Reid Bloomfield’s team can be summed up in one word – experience. Broadneck returns 10 starters.
That has raised expectations for the Bruins, who started off 13-1 in dual meets.
“There are no holes in our lineup,” Bloomfield said. “It’s the toughest lineup I’ve had (in six years). Our goals are to be county, region and state champions. I might say that as individuals in the past, but not as a full team.”
There’s no doubt that Broadneck is loaded.
Senior Liam DeBaugh (126) is the Bruins’ most accomplished wrestler. He went 37-8 last year, finished second in the state and won both county and region championships.
“He only lost by a point in the state finals,” Bloomfield said. “He will wrestle in college. There are three schools he is looking at.”
Seniors Jake Chambers (182) and Dax Avila (195) have improved rapidly since joining the varsity last season as first-year wrestlers. Chambers won 20 matches in 2022 and began this season 20-10. Avila is 14-0.
“They both went from zero to 60 in a short period of time,” Bloomfield said. “It’s a testament to how hard they have worked.”
Sophomores Cam Williams (113, 37-9 last year), Peyton Miller (152) and Branden Whyte (113), and seniors Peter Saroch (120), Rylan Woodward (145), Max DeMella (170, 14-0 start, 41-7 last year) and Ben Durkin (138) complete Broadneck’s impressive lineup.
Reid Gills is stepping into the spotlight for the Admirals this winter – big time.
Gills is the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the state at 170 pounds.
He’s coming off last season’s third-place finish in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Tournament and fourth-place showing in the Maryland Independent Schools state tournament.
“The biggest thing he brings to the mat is his quickness,” Severn coach Tom Wheeler said. “It allows him to surprise his opponents.”
The defending MIAA B Conference champions lineup also boasts Nickey Melfi (106), sophomore Blake Hoyt (165) and juniors Aidan Shenck (195) and Jack Hayman (215).
Severn placed second among about 15 teams in the Admiral Holloway Tournament in early December.
Not many wrestlers are going to beat sophomore Sean Garretson (106).
Garretson won both the Maryland state tournament and the MIAAs last year, and finished fourth at national preps while going 29-3.
“Every time he steps onto the mat, he expects to win,” Spalding coach Mike Laidley said. “If he doesn’t, he comes back to the wrestling room and works that much harder.”
Junior Vincent Paolucci (126) took third in the state last year and should make a run at a title in that tournament and the MIAAs.
Junior Charlie Gessford (138) is another standout Cavalier, and he’s coming off a sixth-place finish in the state tournament.
Laidley won’t hesitate to promote two freshmen: Eli Chesla (106) and Zane Leizel (132).
“They are definitely the future of the program,” Leizel said. “They are both going to place in the states. How high is up to them.”
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