Wrestling Top 10: St. Mary’s Ryken closes second straight year at No. 1
Published by the Washington Post on March 6, 2023
By Shane Connuck
St. Mary’s Ryken entered this winter on the heels of a top-five finish at National Preps and a runaway Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title. Most of its wrestlers returned, and Jason Gabrielson, a longtime youth coach in Southern Maryland, took the coaching reins.
The Knights achieved similar success this season, winning the WCAC by another significant margin. They posted the highest score of a D.C.-area school at National Preps — good for sixth place at the prestigious meet. Junior Mekhi Neal reached the 150-pound final.
“When they don’t have the success they want, it’s felt among everybody,” Gabrielson said. “That’s how our team is. It’s not kids from 10 different states or areas — we all live within 20 miles of each other.”
In addition to his son, Clayton, one of the Knights’ captains, Gabrielson has known most of his wrestlers since they were young and taking up the sport. It has made for a particularly tightknit group.
“We’re not pulling kids from all over the place,” said Gabe Moltumyr, one of just three graduating seniors. “Our saying is ‘Your team versus our family.’ It’s just kind of a slogan we have that’s in the back of our minds, and we hope everyone can see it.”
Paul VI enjoyed a standout season as well but fell short of the Knights by about 75 points in the WCAC tournament. In Virginia, Robinson proved its dominance by having all three of its finalists win Class 6 state championships, lifting the Rams to the team title by 1½ points over Westfield. Battlefield completed an unbeaten season in dual meets, and Landon thumped the Interstate Athletic Conference field again.
Here are our final rankings of the season:
1. St. Mary’s Ryken (12-2) Last ranked: 1
The Knights scored 254 points at the Maryland Independent Schools championships to finish with the highest score of a D.C.-area school, then did the same in the WCAC meet and at National Preps.
2. Robinson (8-0) LR: 7
Caden Smith, Tristan Corbin and Robert Kucharczk won state championships to power the Rams to the Virginia Class 6 team title.
3. Landon (14-2) LR: 6
Senior Joel Brown, a three-time Maryland Independent Schools state champion who placed third at National Preps, led the Bears to their second straight convincing IAC title.
4. Paul VI (15-1) LR: 3
The Panthers were led by a pair of brothers — senior Brady Colbert and freshman Cash Colbert — who took home WCAC and Virginia Independent Schools titles. Brady, an Army commit, went 43-1 in his lone season at Paul VI.
5. Westfield (10-4) LR: 10
Five Bulldogs — Brendan Sholders, Carson Easlick, Nick Ta, Robert Rerras and Jake Brubaker — medaled at the Virginia Class 6 championships, capping a season in which the team won district and region titles.
6. South River (37-6) LR: 4
Led by 4A/3A 145-pound champion Sam Ditmars and Alex Szkotnicki, who placed fourth at 113 pounds, the Seahawks repeated as Maryland 4A dual meet champions.
7. Battlefield (17-0) LR: 2
The Bobcats were perfect in dual meets, and it led to blowout district and region championships. Three of their 10 wrestlers placed at the Virginia Class 6 meet, with freshman Logan Katz and senior Cooper Lockhart reaching the finals.
8. Broadneck (29-4) LR: Not ranked
The Bruins won the Anne Arundel County championship by holding a nearly 40-point margin over Chesapeake, Old Mill, South River and Crofton as nine of their wrestlers were finalists. They were led by Liam DeBaugh, who went 41-1 in his senior season and won the 4A/3A 160-pound title.
9. North Point (31-3) LR: NR
The Eagles reached the Maryland 3A dual meet finals for the first time in the school’s 18-year history and were led by 100-win seniors Connor Huff and Aiden Rivenburg. Huff went 43-0 and ended his career as the 4A/3A 152-pound champion.
10. Gonzaga (17-8) LR: NR
The Eagles closed their season by winning 13 of their last 15 duals, including 10 straight. They produced six D.C. independent schools champions, winning that meet by more than 100 points after finishing third in the WCAC.