OCEAN CITY- Stephen Decatur’s 7th Annual War on the Shore wrestling tournament gets underway today with some of the best high school wrestling programs in the mid-Atlantic area converging on the resort area for the two-day event.
The annual event, which features some of the best high school wrestling programs from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and even Pennsylvania, has been moved to the Ocean City Convention Center this year after being held at host Stephen Decatur for the first six years. Because of the size and popularity of the annual tournament, which serves as a kick-off of sorts to the state high school wrestling season, the event was moved to Ocean City for the first time this year.
The two-day tournament gets underway this afternoon with preliminary matches scheduled to begin around 3 p.m. and will continue practically around the clock until late tomorrow when team and individual champions will be crowned. For host Decatur, the annual tournament often serves as a barometer for the season for the Seahawks, which have used success at War on the Shore as a launching pad for a string of several successful seasons.
Last year, Decatur finished a close second to Baltimore powerhouse Mount Saint Joseph in the tournament as a team and placed several individual wrestlers in their respective weight classes. The early success jumpstarted what turned out to be a record season for wrestling at Decatur, which went 14-0 in the regular season and captured the championship in the state dual meet. The Seahawks also won their seventh straight Bayside Conference title last year.
Despite losing several key senior wrestlers from that team, Decatur appears to have the firepower to continue the great run of success this season and the War on the Shore could be a precursor of what is to come for the Seahawks. Ten starters from last year’s record-setting team return this year including senior Danny Miller, who is the two-time defending state champion. Another key wrestler returning for the Seahawks this year is Devin Bataille, who also wrestled in the state tournament last year. Joining Miller and Bataille as part of the nucleus of what should be a strong team again this year are seniors Corey Tobias, Bernie McGarry, Matt Doherty and Danny Kominos, along with standout juniors Bryce Smith, Josh Bargar, Delonte Tate and Dylan Drew.
While Coach Kevin Gilligan will rely on veteran leadership from his returning wrestlers this season, the program is deep with outstanding wrestlers at nearly every weight class, thanks in large part to a highly successful youth program in the area. Under the direction of Gilligan and his assistants, the youth program should continue to feed the school’s varsity program with talented wrestlers for years to come.