SD wrestling team solid in all weight classes
(Dec. 7, 2018) The Stephen Decatur wrestling team is solid throughout the lineup this year.
“It’s one of the best teams we have had. Our best wrestlers are spread throughout the 14 weight classes,” Coach Todd Martinek said. “Hopefully, we stay healthy and will compete for a state title.”
There are 45 wrestlers participating in the Decatur program. Seven varsity wrestlers are back from last year, when the team went 13-1. The Seahawks finished runner-up in the Bayside Conference championship meet.
“Our lightweights are the strength of our lineup, but we really don’t have many weaknesses,” Martinek said.
His group of grapplers are “talented with a great work ethic,” the eight-year head coach said.
Leading the team as captains this year are juniors Jagger Clapsadle (120/126 pounds) and DJ Taylor (195), senior Lukas Layton (170/182) and sophomore Nico D’Amico (120), who transferred to Decatur from James M. Bennett.
“I think we have a really strong team. We have some young guys that are really experienced that we brought up from our feeder program, and we have some older guys that are captains that are really strong leaders as well,” Clapsadle said. “My freshman year, I was part of a state championship team at South Carroll, so I have experience and I know how to lead the guys, and how we need to bond as a team. I know all the guys, I have a strong bond with a lot of them. We all have a good bond.”
Clapsadle logged a 28-5 record in his first season competing for Decatur. He won both Bayside and 4A/3A East Region titles. Clapsadle took second place in the 106-pound weight class during the state tournament last year.
“We have some good matches and tough tournaments that’s really going to test all of us,” he said. “I fell short of winning a state championship last year, so I’m determined to win it this year and I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
Clapsadle thinks the team has the potential to win a state title, but it will take hard work in the training room every day. Layton agrees.
“I think we can. I know a lot of people think we can, so we’ll try not to disappoint,” Layton said. “I think the team looks really good, maybe the best in my high school career … A lot of the underclassmen are stepping up and, in just a short time, we’re all getting to know each other and becoming like a family.”
This is Layton’s fourth year competing for Decatur. After being plagued by injuries during his career, his goal is to stay healthy this year. A labrum tear in his shoulder during the Bayside Conference championship last year ended his season.
“Injuries from my ACL, meniscus, labrum, all that has jammed me up in the past, but this year I’m just trying to stay healthy and keep going,” he said. “My high school career, I’ve been blessed with the captains that we’ve had – all of them good people and good leaders. I’m just going to try to follow in their footsteps.”
The squad graduated successful wrestlers, but Martinek is confident “the incoming guys are going to fill in those big shoes rather well.”
“I’m reinvigorated with these young guys. They have a lot to learn and are picking things up quickly,” he said. “Their dedication in the offseason is showing in the wrestling room.”
Martinek will look to transfers Anya Knappenberger (113), a sophomore, and senior Dakota Souder (285) to contribute.
Knappenberger went 27-14 last year wrestling for Urbana, which won the Maryland 4A duel title. She is just the fourth female wrestler in Decatur’s program history, and the first to compete for the varsity squad.
Souder came from Trinity, New Jersey and earned a 15-4 record last year. D’Amico went 25-5 at Bennett.
Many newcomers to the team have been successful in the local junior league program. They include freshmen Noah Reho (126), a Junior League state champion; and Alex Koulikov (138) and James Parana (160), both Junior League state runners-up.
Also joining the team are juniors Kyle Elliott (132) and Hayden Gable (145).
Martinek said the goals for the season are to win Bayside and regional titles, and be in the running for a state championship. No Stephen Decatur team has won a state title since 2008, he said. Martinek and the Seahawks hope to change that this year.
Decatur kicked off the 2018-19 season with an 80-0 shutout over the Mardela Warriors on Wednesday in Berlin.