Talk about your great unknowns.
Jason Biringer, Easton High’s longtime head wrestling coach, didn’t have a clue. Neither did Maximus Bentley, who became Easton’s first two-time state wrestling champion nine days before the state-wide shutdown of schools March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic. No family members were told. And no one connected with the Warriors’ wrestling program or athletic department had been notified.
It wasn’t until Thursday, when Biringer returned to school for the first time in over two months and found a letter from Wrestling USA magazine in his mailbox that anyone knew.
And that’s when the confusion really started.
“I was like, ‘What the heck?’” Biringer said of reading the letter. “It was (postmarked) from like late March, early April. I open it up; he made All-American. It was crazy.
“And then I thought Tony and those guys knew,” Biringer said, referring to Bentley’s father. “I’m like, I guess they got notified; never told me about it.
“So I send congrats to Max (through a text message),” Biringer continued. “And he said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He had no idea. He’s like, ‘What is that? I don’t even understand what you’re talking about. What’s USA Wrestling?’ And I said, ‘You know, the one that puts the magazine out every month.’ It was really cool.”
In a season where Bentley became the school’s first four-time Bayside Conference and Class 2A East Region champion, as well as its first two-time state champ, he earned another first by being named a Honorable Mention All-American selection by Wrestling USA.
“Me and my Dad were sitting on the couch and then we get a text from coach Biringer,” Bentley said. “He texted me and my Dad and said he got to school to find out Max was a USA All-American Honorable Mention.
“It’s pretty cool because there were only four selected from our state,” Bentley said.
Among those was Bentley, who capped a 135-10 high school record on March 7 when he won a 4-2 decision over Jason Fernandors of Fairmont Heights to win the 138-pound weight class at the Class 2A-1A state tournament at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.
Owings Mills’ 152-pounder Phil Smith (164-4), a three-time state champion, was the only other wrestler from a Maryland public school selected to the team. Earning honorable-mention from private schools were Mount St. Joseph’s 126-pound state champ Chris Barnabae (182-21) and McDonogh 285-pounder Garrett Kappes (155-29), a two-time state champion.
“It’s definitely my best award, or my best accomplishment,” Bentley said.
Bentley signed a national letter of intent to wrestle for the University of Maryland the week prior to the state tournament.
Biringer said one of the factors that may have contributed to Bentley’s selection was that he had been invited to compete in this year’s Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. Scheduled the week after the Maryland state tournament, the Classic was canceled because of the coronavirus.