South Carroll’s Michael Pizzuto and AJ Rodrigues claim their third 2A/1A wrestling state crowns

South Carroll’s eight finalists set a state record; Manchester Valley’s Jake Boog wins second straight, Miford Mill’s Amory Hills goes on surprise run to third place

Published 3/5/2023 4:40 p.m. EST, Updated 3/6/2023 9:51 a.m. EST

South Carroll's 182-pound senior Rylan Moose (facing, right) pinned 182-pound rival and junior Mason Testerman (left) of Rising Sun for his Class 2A-1A state title on Saturday at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.

Redemption. It’s the kind of thing that one can find at an end of season affair such as the MPSSAA 2A/1A State Wrestling Tournament. It was found by young and old, heavy and light this weekend at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Two heavyweights from Baltimore County found redemption in different ways. One lost his first match and battled all the way back to third, the other didn’t taste defeat until he reached the finals.

Milford Mill’s unranked and unheralded Amory Hills was the least likely of the Baltimore County entrants to find himself on the podium. Hills was third in the region and county, losing to his nemesis Luis Funes-Hernandez (Overlea) at both events, although, Hills did pin his rival in the third-place match at counties. This was the first glimpse that a change was underway.

After dropping his opening match on Friday to No. 4 Jacob Beeman (Northern Garrett), 3-2, Hills composed himself and went on a dream run through the consolation bracket, flattening ranked wrestler after ranked wrestler.

The victim that started it all was Sima Saavedra (La Plata, No. 24 overall). Saavedra defeated Baltimore County Champ Hunter Petrovia at the state duals, so to say Hills picking up a win was unexpected, is an understatement, but the sophomore did just that, pinning the Warrior in the third period, 3:37.

Next on the hit list was UCBAC Champ, No. 7 Clay Lawrence (North Harford). Lawrence lasted about as long as Saavedra, before being discarded at the 3:33 mark. Another step up the rung awaited Hills in the consolation semis with No. 6 Jeremiah Fernandors (Fairmont Heights), a South Region champ, who was planted in 2:07 by Hills.

Hills was not done with the surprises yet, though, saving his biggest win for the bronze medal bout with No. 2 Derek Martin (Manchester Valley), decking the Carroll County Champ 19 seconds into the second period, 1:19.

“Me and my coach have been working real hard on stuff,” remarked Hills. “I knew I wasn’t hyped and stuff, and nobody knew who I was. But I just knew I was going to make it far, so I wasn’t surprised. I sorta got on a groove. I lost the first match, then right after that, I realized the mistake I made in the first match and capitalized off it. Against Martin, I just did the same things I did in the other matches. I just took what they gave me and did what I could do to win the match.”

Petrovia’s redemption came in the quarters when he avenged a preseason loss to Lawrence, blanking him, 7-0. In the semis, Petrovia, who was unranked in the division and No. 25 overall, handed Martin a 5-2 loss to knock him into the consolation bracket. The Pointer’s luck ran out in the finals, when state runner-up, No. 1 Austin Alexander got his redemption with a 7-1 win for the 285lb glory.

“I was confident in my offense,” Petrovia said. “I knew as long as I got to my ties and my shots, I could win those close matches. (I’m) thankful for the opportunity to wrestle, and for my coaches that helped me along the way and believed in me.”

Redemption was found after two years of waiting by No. 1 JoJo Gigliotti (South Carroll). Gigliotti, a freshman, is the No. 1 overall wrestler at 120lbs in the state and many expected No. 2 Tanner Halling (Boonsboro) to take the top designation away from the Cavalier.

In junior leagues, Halling beat Gigliotti in overtime the last two times they met. Gigliotti held the top ranking in the state based on a win over Mt. St. Joseph’s Carter Nogle and a win over National Prep placer, Jack Parker (St. Christopher’s, VA), at the Trojan Horse Tournament in Pennsylvania.

Gigliotti stormed his way to the finals with a 14-3 win in the opener, followed by two pins in 32 and 49 seconds respectively. There would be little fireworks in his showdown with Halling but an early takedown gave him the edge needed to work to a 3-2 victory over his rival.

“It was a goal I had set all the way from the beginning of the year,” Gigliotti elaborated. “I kinda knew I was going to do it. I went for the best guys in the state. I wrestled Carter Nogle, who is nationally ranked, and who’s tough. Vinnie Paolucci was another tough match. I just go for the best. I was hungry. I was ready to get after him (Halling) because the last two times it was overtime, and it was always close. I’ve been waiting almost two years to wrestle him again, so it was huge when I beat him.”

Redemption was found by No. 1 Rylan Moose in the 182lb final. A year after finishing second, Moose climbed to the top of the state podium after pinning No. 3 Mason Testerman (Rising Sun) ten seconds into the final frame, 4:10. Moose pinned his way to the finals.

“It’s the greatest feeling ever,” Moose exclaimed. “As my last South carroll match ever, it was my time to win. I worked hard all season for that moment, no one this weekend was going to stop me.”

Redemption couldn’t be found for two Cavaliers, Michael Pizzuto (145) and AJ Rodrigues (160). Both captured their third state titles, leaving them with the nagging reality of what could have been had COVID-19 never happened. They lost their chance of becoming four-time champs when a season was lost to the pandemic.

Four pins was the way Pizzuto put title No. 3 in the books. Pizzuto (No. 1 in 2A/1A and honorable mention in the country) logged three first period falls to reach the finals then put No. 2 Russell Fary (Sparrows Point) to sleep mid-way through the second period, 3:05.

“Getting to end my career with a dominant state tournament felt rewarding.” Pizzuto said. “All the hard work in the room and chasing the toughest competition all year paid off. It will always be in the back of my mind but with the record and accomplishments I have. I can say I’m up with some of the best high school wrestlers in the state.”

Rodrigues, who is No. 14 in the nation, was similarly dominant with two first period pins and a tech-fall to reach the championship match. The senior ended that encounter with a 20-5 technical-fall over No. 2 Joe Clark (Oakland Mills).

“It felt really good,” Rodrigues continued. “I went in knowing it was my last state tournament and I wanted to make a statement. The past two finals matches, I didn’t open up like I wanted to. I’m most definitely disappointed that I wasn’t able to have that opportunity to do it (four titles). Hopefully those that are in my position can have a asterisk by our names because of it.”

No. 1 Gage Owen fell in the most anticipated match of the final round at 138lbs. Owen squared off with No. 2 Jacob Brenneman (Northern Garrett), in a battle of undefeated two-time state champions. This one was as entertaining as hoped for, with both wrestlers holding the lead at various points. Shortly after Owen took a third period lead, Brenneman gained a reversal to take the lead back and win, 6-5. Owen and Brenneman are ranked No. 21 and 22 respectively in Scorebook Live’s National Rankings.

Gage’s brother, Evan (No. 2), also came up short in his title quest at 113, dropping a 3-1 decision to two-time state champ, Tyler Garvin (Rising Sun). No. 5 Grayson Barnhill was one of South Carroll’s state record eight finalists. The freshman authored a mild upset of C. Milton Wright’s No. 4 Kane Desch in the semis, by fall, 4:39. Barnhill was stopped in the finals by No. 1 Elijah Collick (Stephen Decatur), 5-3.

AJ’s sibling, Manny (No. 2) fell in overtime of the 190lb championship to Williamsport’s No. 4 Aidin Hastings, 3-1. Another Rodrigues, freshman Anthony (No.22 overall), rounds out the Cavaliers’ placers with his sixth place showing at 152.

Redemption was gained by Owings Mills’ No. 2 Amondre Wooden. After placing third as a freshman, various issues kept Wooden from making a return appearance to the state tournament. Now a senior, the stars aligned this year and Wooden walked into the Show Place Arena ready to complete his dream of a high school state championship.

The first big challenge came on Saturday morning in the semis when he was slated to see No. 1 Travis Green (Manchester Valley). Green, who was seeking his first state crown too, had his hopes dashed by Wooden, 5-4. Stephen Decatur’s No. 3 Gavin Solito, a state runner-up, awaited Wooden in the finals. After the match started out tight, Wooden opened up and started piling up points on the Seahawk working to a 9-4 victory.

“I had to come in there rested,” Wooden offered. “I won regionals and counties, so I had to win states. This is my last year. I messed up, you know, last year. I knew I had to definitely win it this time. It felt pretty good. It definitely felt good.”

Hereford’s No. 1 Owen Bell’s redemption was gained with an incredibly dominating performance that saw him steamroll the competition, not allowing a point to be scored on him while posting two pins and a tech-fall to reach the finals where he pitched a shutout against No. 2 Alex DeVriendt (Middletown), 8-0.

Frustratingly, Bell who was fourth a year ago, watched Sparrows Point’s Dom Ambrosino win the 120lb state crown last year despite having beaten the Pointer in the region finals, and the previous two-times they met.

“I felt great throughout the tournament,” Bell offered. “I was confident in my ability to win and my coaches decisions all day. Nobody scored on me the whole tournament, I’ve gotten a lot better staying disciplined in neutral and making sure I score points on top. I just wanted to wrestle how I’ve been wrestling the whole year, my work in the off-season and discipline throughout the regular season has definitely paid off.”

Redemption was not needed for the area’s last two champs. No. 1 Jake Boog (Manchester Valley) won his second consecutive state title on the strength of four pins, including vanquishing No. 3 James Brashears (Smithsburg) with two seconds left on the clock of the championship final match, 5:58.

“It was awesome,” said Boog. “It is sad to wrestle my last high school match, but I had enjoyed every second of it. Yea, I just took it one match at a time and focused on my training not my opponents.”

Joining Boog, Green (3rd at 145), and Martin (4tth at 285) in gaining state hardware for the Mavericks was freshman Bradyn VanDervoort (126). VanDervoort gained his state ranking (No. 5) after winning the Carroll County title over returning state placer, No. 4 Chris Gaeng (Winters Mill). Gaeng got VanDervoort back at regions with a 6-3 win.

At states, VanDervoort took out UCBAC Champ, No. 8 Logan Barkey two times (quarters and consolation semis), then picked off No. 2 Reid Caimi (Stephen Decatur) for third place, 6-3. Caimi defeated Gaeng, 12-10, in the other consolation semifinal.

“It was a great experience,” VanDervoort embellished. “I knew I had a good shot in making something happen coming from the west region. I put it all out on the mat and ended up third. It was a great freshman year. Yes, and no (to pressure), it’s definitely a privilege to be in the ranking as a freshman but then again at this point in the season everyone’s going hard so anything can happen.”

Rising Sun’s five awardees was the second most for Baltimore Area teams after South Carroll’s nine. Garvin, who is undefeated in his high school career (92-0), got by South Carroll’s Evan Owen, 3-1, for his second state crown. Garvin is ranked No. 15 in the nation by Scorebook Live.

“I was truly blessed to have the opportunity to represent my school and town,” Garvin said. “It was great to get title number two under my belt and I’m looking forward to getting back in the room and making improvements for the next year.”

Along with Testerman’s silver, No. 6 Xzavier Brown was 5th at 120, No. 4 Zach Garvin was sixth at 138, and No. 1 Elijah Farr landed in the sixth spot at 195. Testerman was ready for Sparrows Point’s Damon Nelson to hit his barrel roll in Friday night’s quarters, twice countering the move to defeat the No. 2 wrestler, 7-6.

Nelson would bounce back to take third for the Point. Along with Petrovia, Fary was second at 145. Defending state champ, No. 1 Dom Ambrosino, was upset in the quarters by North Harford’s No. 7 Cruz Cespedes. Cespedes pinned Ambrosino in the third period, 5:22. The two would meet in the fifth-place match, with Ambrosino exacting revenge with an 8-0 blanking of Cespedes.

The UCBAC had a fairly strong showing this weekend, in addition to Rising Sun’s four placers, three other squads had wrestlers reach the podium. C. Milton Wright saw Desch take fourth, No. 6 Devin Sweeney was fifth at 145, and Joel Tufts (honorable mention) was sixth at 220.

Joining Cespedes in gaining state accolades for North Harford was No. 6 Tommy Blankenship (5th at 113). Blankenship lost his first match to Williamsport’s Camden Hull (honorable mention), then battled back to place, while Hull did not place. Harford Tech’s Barkey was sixth at 126.

Northeast Anne Arundel’s super freshman, No. 4 Beau Schmidt, reached the 132lb final before his storybook run came to a close. Schmidt encountered No. 1 Logan Intrieri (Stephen Decatur) and could not topple the senior, falling 5-2. No. 5 Scott Anderson was fifth at 170.

No. 5 Kiah Noble (Pikesville) was third at 138. Eastern Tech’s Anthony Oge placed sixth at 182. Glenelg pushed two grapplers to the awards stand, Phil Key (106, No. 22 overall) was sixth at 106 and state runner-up No. 3 Ethan Sotka was third at 160.

Winters Mill had two place winners, Gaeng and Caleb Crouch (138, No. 24 overall). Crouch, who is a junior, made a statement this weekend, using upsets to march through the bracket. In the quarters, Crouch edged Rising Sun’s Zach Garvin, 2-1. He then defeated Garvin again in the fifth-place meeting, 9-0. Along the way, Crouch pinned No. 8 Ty Montgomery (Huntingtown), 3:55.

The 220lb title was secured by Middletown’s No. 1 Kieran Hofgesang by major decision over No. 2 Cornell Johnson (Calvert), 10-1.

*Rankings referenced are from the MSWA’s 2A/1A Division Rankings unless otherwise noted.



1st Place Match

Elijah Collick (Stephen Decatur) 46-2, Fr. over Grayson Barnhill (South Carroll) 38-9, Fr. (Dec 5-3)

3rd Place Match

Nate Wilhelm (Northern-G) 41-4, Jr. over Kane Desch (C. Milton Wright) 37-10, So. (Dec 2-0)

5th Place Match

Seth Crawford (Brunswick) 37-7, Fr. over Phil Key (Glenelg) 32-16, Fr. (Fall 2:54)


1st Place Match

Tyler Garvin (Rising Sun) 49-0, Jr. over Evan Owen (South Carroll) 44-5, So. (Dec 3-1)

3rd Place Match

Jaxon Jones (Fort Hill) 27-4, Sr. over Mathew Beitzel (Northern-G) 37-7, So. (Dec 8-1)

5th Place Match

Tommy Blankenship (North Harford) 39-8, So. over Danny Scott (Huntingtown) 38-8, Jr. (MD 10-2)


1st Place Match

JoJo Gigliotti (South Carroll) 48-2, Fr. over Tanner Halling (Boonsboro) 45-1, So. (Dec 3-2)

3rd Place Match

Tremaine Jackson (Queen Anne`s) 41-4, Jr. over Jack Hooks (Kent Island) 43-8, Sr. (Dec 7-1)

5th Place Match

Xzavier Brown (Rising Sun) 45-8, So. over Devin Opel (Northern-G) 31-10, Fr. (Dec 8-4)


1st Place Match

Owen Bell (Hereford) 42-0, Sr. over Alex DeVriendt (Middletown) 49-5, So. (MD 8-0)

3rd Place Match

Bradyn VanDervoort (Manchester Valley) 47-7, Fr. over Reid Caimi (Stephen Decatur) 42-8, Jr. (Dec 6-3)

5th Place Match

Chris Gaeng (Winters Mill) 29-6, So. over Logan Barkey (Harford Technical) 40-8, Sr. (Dec 5-4)


1st Place Match

Logan Intrieri (Stephen Decatur) 47-1, Sr. over Beau Schmidt (Northeast) 28-1, Fr. (Dec 5-2)

3rd Place Match

Brian Davis (Calvert) 34-2, Jr. over Caleb Brenneman (Northern-G) 38-6, So. (Dec 8-6)

5th Place Match

Dom Ambrosino (Sparrows Point) 51-4, Sr. over Cruz Cespedes (North Harford) 36-8, Sr. (MD 8-0)


1st Place Match

Jacob Brenneman (Northern-G) 42-0, Sr. over Gage Owen (South Carroll) 47-1, Sr. (Dec 6-5)

3rd Place Match

Kiah Noble (Pikesville) 22-2, Sr. over Rocco Tully (Parkside) 38-12, So. (TF-1.5 5:00 (21-4))

5th Place Match

Caleb Crouch (Winters Mill) 37-7, Jr. over Zach Garvin (Rising Sun) 45-7, Fr. (MD 9-0)


1st Place Match

Michael Pizzuto (South Carroll) 46-3, Sr. over Russell Fary (Sparrows Point) 47-5, So. (Fall 3:05)

3rd Place Match

Gus Clark (North Caroline) 40-4, Sr. over Aiden Pusey (Parkside) 42-7, Sr. (Dec 4-0)

5th Place Match

Devin Sweeney (C. Milton Wright) 40-10, So. over Sam Stempler (Poolesville) 44-5, Sr. (Dec 7-2)


1st Place Match

Amondre Wooden (Owings Mills) 41-1, Sr. over Gavin Solito (Stephen Decatur) 47-2, Jr. (Dec 9-4)

3rd Place Match

Travis Green (Manchester Valley) 52-1, Sr. over Oliver Graham (Middletown) 45-7, Sr. (MD 9-0)

5th Place Match

Morgon Corwine (Brunswick) 42-3, Jr. over Anthony Rodrigues (South Carroll) 37-14, Fr. (Fall 2:45)


1st Place Match

AJ Rodrigues (South Carroll) 47-2, Sr. over Joe Clark (Oakland Mills) 29-4, Jr. (TF-1.5 4:44 (20-5))

3rd Place Match

Ethan Sotka (Glenelg) 40-6, Sr. over Canaan Mapp (Parkside) 39-10, So. (MD 11-3)

5th Place Match

Zach Curry (Queen Anne`s) 31-7, Sr. over Evan Haworth (Stephen Decatur) 30-5, Sr. (Fall 0:46)


1st Place Match

Jake Boog (Manchester Valley) 50-2, Sr. over James Brashears (Smithsburg) 39-5, Sr. (Fall 5:58)

3rd Place Match

Parker Intrieri (Stephen Decatur) 39-10, Jr. over Conner Hayden (Huntingtown) 39-9, Sr. (Fall 1:33)

5th Place Match

Scott Anderson (Northeast) 31-8, So. over Glen Vinson (Frederick Douglass-PG) 26-12, So. (Fall 0:57)


1st Place Match

Rylan Moose (South Carroll) 48-2, Sr. over Mason Testerman (Rising Sun) 42-3, Jr. (Fall 4:10)

3rd Place Match

Damon Nelson (Sparrows Point) 53-3, Sr. over Giuseppe Mellinger (Kent Island) 42-8, Jr. (Fall 1:20)

5th Place Match

Nathan Kovalcik (Catoctin) 39-7, Sr. over Anthony Oge (Eastern Technical) 35-7, Jr. (Dec 9-2)


1st Place Match

Adin Hastings (Williamsport) 44-1, So. over Manny Rodrigues (South Carroll) 42-4, So. (SV-1 3-1)

3rd Place Match

Alex Hoy (Middletown) 53-2, Jr. over Scott Beitzel (Northern-G) 36-8, Sr. (Fall 0:31)

5th Place Match

Kole Kohut (Stephen Decatur) 34-11, Jr. over Elijah Farr (Rising Sun) 46-6, So. (Dec 3-2)


1st Place Match

Kieran Hofgesang (Middletown) 51-2, Sr. over Cornell Johnson (Calvert) 27-4, Jr. (MD 10-1)

3rd Place Match

Jalon Edwards (Patuxent) 38-5, Sr. over Nate Elliott (Boonsboro) 46-4, Jr. (Dec 8-3)

5th Place Match

Jaeden Warner (North Caroline) 40-3, Sr. over Joel Tufts (C. Milton Wright) 36-12, Jr. (Dec 4-3)


1st Place Match

Austin Alexander (Colonel Richardson) 41-1, Sr. over Hunter Petrovia (Sparrows Point) 50-4, Sr. (Dec 7-1)

3rd Place Match

Amory Hills (Milford Mill Academy) 31-7, So. over Derek Martin (Manchester Valley) 39-5, Sr. (Fall 1:19)

5th Place Match

Jeremiah Fernandors (Fairmont Heights) 28-4, . over Mason Wolfensberger (Williamsport) 42-7, Sr. (Dec 10-5

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