Bertoni State Wrestling Championships

Middletown 138-pounder Danny Bertoni has his hand raised after winning his fourth straight state championship in 2017. Bertoni and those Knights were among the finest wrestling teams in county history. But were they the best? Help decide by voting on our poll at www.fredericknewspost.com.

Editor's note: Due to an omission on the original wrestling poll attached to this story, it was re-started on Thursday afternoon (Dec. 2). If you voted on the poll early that day, please re-cast your vote.

What are the best high school teams in Frederick this fall?

Thanks to the coronavirus, we’ll likely have to wait until next spring to find out. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association postponed fall and winter sports until after the first semester, which ends in January, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

So to help fill the void, The Frederick News-Post thought it would be fun to ask readers to pick the best Frederick County high school teams of all-time in each sport.

Each week, we’ll feature a sport and list contenders from years past in that sport. Readers can visit www.fredericknewspost.com to vote for the team they think is best. We’ll do this for all sports, fall, winter and spring.

Each Thursday, when we list candidates for another sport, we’ll reveal the team from the previous week’s sport that got the most votes.

This week’s sport: Wrestling. May the best team win.

1970-71 Thomas Johnson Patriots

Accomplishments: 10-1 record, District I champion

Heading into his first season as Thomas Johnson’s wrestling coach, Tom St. John gave a prediction in a preview story that appeared in The Frederick News-Post on Dec. 3, 1970.

“It of course takes time to learn what your boys can do,” he told the paper. “But from what I’ve seen and know of the team, this is going to be a winning year.”

Sure enough, the only team to beat the Patriots during the regular season was mighty Westminster, which went on to become the Tri-State League champ.

And while the Patriots finished fourth in the tough Tri-State League Tournament, they won the District I title, knocking off defending champ South Hagerstown, for the program’s first district crown.

This squad featured plenty of standouts. One of them was heavyweight (sometimes called the unlimited class back then) Charlie Klein, who moonlighted as a star football player but was destined to be a wrestling trailblazer.

The following season, Klein became the first Frederick County wrestler to win an MPSSAA state title, and the county wouldn’t produce another state champ in the sport until Frederick High’s Kevin Caudell won the 4A-3A 135-pound title in 1990.

Klein enjoyed a stellar junior season in 1970-71, going 17-1, winning his second straight Tri-State title and capturing the heavyweight title at the district tournament.

Covering that district tournament for The Frederick News-Post, legendary wrestling coach Guy Whidden described Klein as being “trim at 240 pounds.”

TJ 105-pounder Craig Caplan also won a district crown that day. And at the ensuing state meet, which awarded just one title for each weight class (instead of dividing wrestlers by school classification and awarding multiple state titles for each weight), the Patriots’ Gary Gladhill (132) placed a team- and county-best fourth.

1993-94 Frederick Cadets

Accomplishments: Class 4A-3A state dual meet champion; Class 4A-3A state championships runner-up; Frederick County champion

Frederick High School was a wrestling dynasty during this period, winning 10 of 11 county tournament titles from 1988 to 1998.

But this version of the Cadets, coached by longtime county wrestling guru Yank Strube, made an indelible mark.

This was the first year the MPSSAA held a state duals meet, and Frederick promptly became the first Frederick County team to win such a title, beating Old Mill 30-27 in the final. Pins by Dusty Bane (103) and Craig McIlvaine (160) helped give the Cadets the edge.

The Cadets then nearly became the first Frederick County team to win a team title at the MPSSAA State Championships (the state awarded team titles at that event from 1970 to 2017). At that event, Frederick fell half a point shy of the crown, falling 76.5-76 to Northern Calvert.

Tim Novak (120) and Mike McIlvaine (189) won state titles for the Cadets. Other top finishers for Frederick were Tim Fields (third in 125) and Jamie Weister (fourth in 171). Kristian Samuelsson (cq) (145) and Jason Willard (135) were also standouts.

Frederick remained a state power in the 90s. The Cadets won another state dual meet title in 1996 (under coach Andre Jackson) and placed second in the state championships again in 1997.

2005-06 Walkersville Lions

Accomplishments: Class 2A-1A West region champ; Frederick County champion

Walkersville enjoyed a dynastic era in Frederick County wrestling during the early-to-mid-2000s, and the Lions captured their sixth straight county meet title in 2005-06.

Walkersville then went on to win a regional crown, beating second-place Liberty. The Lions’ C.J. Cotterman (112), Jordan Walsh (160), Brad Nielson (171) and Tim Wheatley (215) won individual regional titles, while Derek Hubbard (third in 189), Tyler White (fourth in 119) and Danny Neel (fourth in 152) also helped the cause.

Wheatley won a state title, overcoming back spasms to become the only wrestler in the tournament to record three pins en route to winning a crown. Nielson placed second at states, while Walsh was third.

Whealey’s ability to overcome adversity epitomized this team, which was guided by head coach Scott McIntosh and assistant Butch Cotterman. The Lions suffered a high number of injuries and illnesses yet still managed to keep winning titles.

2012-13 Urbana Hawks

Accomplishments: Class 4A-3A state championships champion; Class 4A-3A state dual meet runner-up.

Urbana cemented its place in history this season, becoming the first Frederick County team to win an MPSSAA state wrestling championships team title. And with such team titles no longer being awarded at the individual-based event, this Ben Arneson-coached Hawks team will stand out as the only county team to accomplish the feat.

That distinction might have taken some of the sting out of Urbana’s 37-28 loss to juggernaut Damascus in the state dual meet finals. While there’s no shame in being a state runner-up, the Hawks were the defending 4A-3A dual meet state champs.

Their title at the individual state championships turned out to be a testament to overall strength rather than star power. The Hawks didn’t have a single wrestler win an individual state title, yet they amassed enough points — 97.5 — to top second-place River Hill and third-place Northern, which both crowned at least one state champ.

Six of Urbana’s nine state qualifiers became state place-winners. Leading the way were Morgan Way (120) and Mike Virnelson (182), who both were state finalists. Those two were Frederick News-Post all-county first-teamers, as were Urbana’s Jake Makosy, Tyler Makosy, Jimmy Allen, Nick Frank and Nick Keller.

Many of those wrestlers were underclassmen who helped keep Urbana a power for years to come. In fact, another Hawks team from the 2010s — one that doesn’t include any wrestlers from the 2012-13 team — is on this list.

2015-16 Oakdale Bears

Accomplishments: Class 4A-3A state dual runner-up; Class 4A-3A state championships runner-up; Frederick County champion

With six county champs and seven wrestlers who placed at the state championships, the 2015-16 Oakdale Bears entrenched themselves as force to be reckoned with.

In fact, the only team standing between Oakdale a pair of state titles that season was state powerhouse Damascus, which beat the Bears 41-22 in the state dual meet final and fended them off for a 128-113.5 win in the state championships team standings.

The Bears won their second county crown in four years, with individual titles by Cameron DeLucia (126), Logan McKoy (138), Jake Nielson (152), Chase DeMaille (160), Ryan Shubert (170) and Bryce DeMaille (195).

That type of depth resurfaced at the state championships. McKoy and Shubert were second, DeLucia was third, Bryce DeMaille was fourth and Carson Cunha (113), Neilson and Chase DeMaille each placed fifth. With such performances, the Bears joined Frederick, Middletown and Urbana as Frederick County schools that placed in the top two of the team standings at the individual state championships.

2016-17 Middletown Knights

Accomplishments: Class 2A-1A state dual meet champion; Class 2A-1A state wrestling championships runner-up; Frederick County champion.

Middletown has been a perennial power for at least the past 10 years, but the 2016-17 Knights were flat-out stacked, featuring a lineup that was rock-solid in all 14 weight classes.

Throughout the season, the Knights averaged more than 50 points a match and held opponents to under 20 a match. No wonder Middletown defended its Class 2A-1A state dual meet title in dominant fashion, rolling to a 56-19 win over Sparrows Point in the final en route to becoming the first (and so far, only) Frederick County team to win back-to-back dual meet state crowns.

Ten Middletown wrestlers qualified for the MPSSAA state championships for individuals, and that group helped the Knights finish second in the 2A-1A team standings behind champ South Carroll.

Leading the way was senior Danny Bertoni, who became the first Frederick County wrestler to win four individual state titles when he won the 138-pound crown. Only seven other wrestlers in the history of the MPSSAA state championships have accomplished that feat.

Unfortunately for opponents, the Jim Schartner-coached Knights had a slew of other talented wrestlers lurking in their lineup, as the state championships showed. Middletown’s Adam Bain (152) and Sean Mullican (285) also won state titles, while Tyler Clemmer (second in 195), Sean Hermann (fifth in 220) and Mert Gulen (sixth in 182) placed.

At least one coach with another team on this list regarded this is the best Frederick County team he had seen.

2017-18 Urbana Hawks

Accomplishments: Class 4A state dual meet champion; Frederick County champion

For the second time in program history, the Hawks won a state dual meet title. But this time, they did so under coach Justin Krop, an Urbana grad who had his team set its sights on just such a goal early in the season.

There was some drama in the final against Winston Churchill, particularly when Hawks reigning state champ Jake Nielson got flung on his back in the 160-pound bout. But Nielson recovered, registered a pin, and the Hawks (18-2) wouldn’t be denied, winning 41-27.

Urbana then relied on its depth to win the county meet crown. At that event, Urbana had 11 wrestlers place in the top four of their weight class. And keep in mind, the team did this without 152-pound standout Shane Acton, who missed the tournament due to a knee injury.

Acton eventually returned to finish out the season, and he was one of several Hawks who fared well at the state tournament. Nielson and Kevin Makosy (195) won state titles, Cody Swigart (132) was third and Acton was fourth.

2018-19 Linganore Lancers

Accomplishments: Class 3A state dual meet runner-up; Frederick County champion

Yet another team from the 2010s, a decade that saw Frederick County field a multitude of high-caliber programs that churned out state champions.

And that said, Linganore’s ability to roll to a win at the Frederick County meet, where it crowned five champions and beat second-place Middletown by 27.5 points, speaks volumes about the team’s strength. It was the first county team title for the Lancers since 1990.

Coached by Ben Arneson, who returned to his alma mater (he wrestled for the Lancers under coach Rich Gialanella) after guiding Urbana to several titles, the 2018-19 Linganore team just missed out on winning its first state dual meet crown, falling 28-27 to Stephen Decatur in the final.

Linganore’s ace was senior 132-pounder Earl Blake, who won his third state title (he placed second his freshman season) and was The Frederick News-Post co-Wrestler of the Year.

Also at states for Linganore, Michael Bromley (182) won a title, while Joe Bromley (170) and Dalton Pearl (160) both placed third.

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