(May 31, 2019) Members of the Stephen Decatur wrestling team were surprised as they walked into the school’s gym last Friday and were presented their state championship rings.
“That’s the same thing we did in 2008 so I wanted to keep the tradition,” said Coach Todd Martinek.
In the past 50 years, Decatur sports teams have won five state championships. The wrestling team holds two of those titles.
The first wrestling championship was earned in 2008 and the most recent came on Feb. 9, when the Seahawks captured the Maryland 3A dual meet crown at North Point High School in Waldorf.
“I loved and remember all my athletes, whether they were state champions or a .500 team, but this group outworked every team in the state to win the title,” Martinek said. “They now have a bond with each other and their high school that they probably don’t even fully comprehend now.”
Martinek said the wrestlers are “great kids on and off the mat.”
“[They have] great academics and character, [which] makes it even more sweet to win with great kids,” he added.
Martinek invited Lou Taylor, superintendent of Worcester County Public Schools, to the ring-presentation ceremony.
“I’m glad Mr. Taylor was there as the superintendent. Dr. [Jon] Andes came in 2008 and I still remember how important that was to us,” Martinek said. “I told Mr. Taylor to put it on his schedule for next year.”
Taylor graduated from Decatur and served as principal of the school for 17 years.
He congratulated the athletes on their hard work, successful season and accomplishments.
“It started when you were younger, making that commitment to have goals to make sure you put yourself in a place physically and mentally to reach that opportunity to become a state champion,” he said. “Recognize how hard it is to get to that level. It’s also something not every student athlete gets to experience.”
Becoming a state champion also carries a responsibility, he added.
“You have a responsibility to represent your school and title,” Taylor said. “I want to thank you for putting us on the map for the 2018-2019 school year. Savor this moment. Not everybody is going to be able to walk around with a state championship ring.”
Decatur Principal Tom Sites was at the state championship match and it is something he will never forget.
“From a personal standpoint growing up playing football, I played basketball – I didn’t wrestle – and baseball and ran track, to being a teacher, to being a head coach in this school, to being assistant principal and principal, I’ve been to a lot of sporting events in my 51 years of life, but I’m going to tell you right now, that state championship win was nothing like I’d ever experienced as a player, as a coach, as a principal and as a parent, that night,” he said. “The intensity that was going down in that gym there, I’ll never forget it.”
Martinek interrupted Sites as he spoke to the wrestlers last Friday, noting that their principal chest bumped him in excitement and celebration following the victory.
“You made me really proud,” Sites continued.
As he hugged them and shook their hands while presenting the wrestlers their awards after winning the championship, he said “I was excited for you and I felt it too.”
“You’re only the fifth state championship in school history, so you’re part of something really big,” he said.
Todd Ferrante, Worcester County Board of Education member, congratulated the wrestlers and praised their success. He also owns Park Place Jewelers, where the rings were created.
Decatur had an extremely successful 2018-19 season. The Seahawks went undefeated (13-0) during the regular season. They captured the 3A East Region dual meet championship – the team’s first since 2011.
Three days later, Decatur won the 3A state dual meet title.
The Berlin squad also won a Bayside Conference championship. Six Seahawks – a program record – won their divisions and individual Bayside championship awards.
Two wrestlers won regional titles. Freshman Noah Reho captured the state title in the 126-pound weight class.
He is the first Decatur wrestler to win a state championship since 2009. Reho is only the fourth wrestler in program history to earn a state title.