Marshall High had three individual champions crowned, while Madison had two second-place finishers, at last Saturday night’s Liberty District wrestling championships. The postseason competition took place at Langley High School in Great Falls.
Marshall’s district champions were Andrew Embree (215-weight class), Mark Bergenholtz (189) and Dan Montes (135).
The next postseason stop is this weekend’s Northern Region championships, set to take place at Fairfax High School.
<b>MARSHALL HIGH</b> had a solid fourth-place team standing with 122 points, thanks in large part to the championship wins of Embree, Bergenholtz and Montes.
In the 135 finals, Montes (22-9) bested Woodson opponent Ben Breazille, 8-1. The senior built a 4-0 lead going into the third period, than scored two points with 1 minute, 35 seconds left to take a 6-0 advantage on way to the win.
"It’s an emotional win," said Montes, who was fifth at districts last year. "It took real hard work and lots of dedication. It feels great."
He looks forward to regionals.
"It will be fun and a good experience," said Montes, who is 97-32 during his varsity career with the Statesmen. "Hopefully I can [qualify] for states."
Marshall’s Embree, in his 215 finals match, pinned Jefferson’s Joe Latta (18-12) with 1:22 remaining in the third period. The junior took his opponent down at the edge of the mat at the 1:33 mark before recording the decisive pin.
Embree (32-5), who is headed for regionals for the third time, won matches over McLean’s Abdelhadi Jarrar and Stone Bridge’s Connor Calderwood to reach the finals.
In the 189 finals, Bergenholtz of Marshall defeated Woodson’s Alex Jabaley by technical fall in the third period. The match ended when the Statesmen junior, who finished third at districts last year, scored a takedown to go ahead 16-0. Bergenholtz improved his season record to 31-7.
Marshall’s Andy O’Meara made it to the 130 finals before losing to Langley’s Jay Ives by a second-period pin. O’Meara, a senior won districts last year at 119, will be competing at his fourth region tournament this weekend.
<b>FROM MADISON</b>, Mason Keena (119) and Albert Schultz (112) both reached the finals round before losing.
Keena, in his championship match, fell to McLean senior Palmer Dickson, the top seed at 119, by an 8-0 score. Dickson controlled the match against his Warhawk opponent. It marked the second-straight year in which Palmer has won a district title.
"It’s great and I’m very happy about it," said Dickson, who holds a 28-7 record on the season.
Dickson said one of his motivations to do well in the finals was to help the Highlanders, who did not win a single district dual team meet this season, finish ahead of rival Madison in the team standings. As it turned out, Madison (75 points) and McLean (74) finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in the eight-team field. Langley High (193) was district champion for the ninth-straight year.
Dickson said he was going for a pin in the finals, which ultimately would have propelled the Highlanders out of last place. But he was not quite able to get it against the determined Keena (20-11), who twice was turned on his back in the first period before getting out the period trailing 5-0. Palmer, later in the match, wrapped up the scoring with a two-point standing takedown with one minute remaining in the third and final period.
"The team score was close with Madison and I wanted a pin," Dickson said. "We were trying real hard to beat Madison."
Keena reached the finals with a semifinals win over Langley’s Daniel Hozik.
<b>AT THE 112 FINALS</b>, Madison’s Schultz (33-8), a sophomore, lost a 9-5 decision to Woodson junior Bob Hauser (28-8), who won the title after finishing second last year.
Hauser, the top seed, took a 2-0 lead into the second period. Late in the second, Schultz turned Hauser onto his back to score his first points. But Hauser quickly got back on top and accumulated several points to take a 7-4 lead. Schultz drew within 7-5 midway through the third period before Hauser scored late match back points to earn the title.
Schultz, who finished third in the district at 103 division last year, reached last weekend’s finals with wins over South Lakes’ Andrew Goldberg and Jefferson’s Devan Samant.
Other locals who placed — top four finishers — at districts and will compete at regionals this weekend were Marshall’s Quan Nguyen, third at 140, Marshall’s Daniel Picado, third at 145, Madison’s Ryan McGuire, third at heavyweight, Madison’s Daniel Feldman, fourth at 103, Madison’s Brian Wymer, fourth at 145 and Madison’s Paul Hedrick, fourth at 152.
Langley’s David Helmer (44-1), competing at 152-weight class, won his fourth-career district title and will be going for his fourth region crown at Fairfax. He was named Most Outstanding Wrestler at districts and helped the Saxons win their ninth consecutive team title.
"Davey’s just a tough kid, no doubt," Langley coach John Belyea said. "When he came in as a freshmen we knew we had something special there."