Carroll County senior Joey Rotella won the last match of his high school career Saturday at the Salem Civic Center as he placed fifth in the state wrestling tournament at 145 pounds.
Wrestling in the 4-A State Tournament at Salem, Rotella defeated C.J. Mills of Loudon County to finish fifth in the state. For the weekend, Rotella went 2-2 in one of the most competitive weight classes in the state, Carroll County head coach Jason Morris said.
Rotella opened the tournament with a tough loss, dropping an 8-5 decision to Deep Creek’s Marcus Hendricks. Rotella bounced back in the consolation round, however, pinning Churchland’s Rudy Castillo in the second period. Rotella then lost by pinfall to Tabb’s Bailey Hicks in the consolation semifinals, setting up his fifth-place match Saturday with Mills.
“I thought he wrestled well. There were some tough guys in that weight class. It’s probably one of the more competitive weight classes there is in the state,” Morris said. “He dropped the match in the first round that could have went the other way, but overall I was happy with how he wrestled. He got fifth and went out in the last match of his career and wrestled really sharp. It was great to finish out with a win and get a medal. He was excited about winning that match and I’ve been really tickled with him.”
For the season, Rotella finished with a 30-10 record, putting him in an elite fraternity of Carroll County wrestlers to finish their careers with more than 100 wins. For his four-year career, Rotella went 105-35.
“That is a pretty big accomplishment. I think we’ve probably had five or six kids get to 100 wins since I’ve been at Carroll, which usually transpires to success in the postseason,” Morris said. “It also means you’ve stayed healthy and been competitive for four years.”
Rotella’s senior teammate, Logan McCollum, also reached the 100-victory milestone this season, finishing his career with 101 wins.
“And we missed two tournaments and two quads because of the weather, so that’s another 15-20 matches Joey could have wrestled in this year.” Morris said. “He’s had a good run, did real well at the end of the year. It’s really hard to be consistent in the postseason. The pressure starts in those go-to matches where if you lose you don’t go to state. He did a really good job at the region tournament and at the state tournament of wrestling tough. It is really competitive and he stepped up and competed well. He’s been with me since the seventh grade and he will be dearly missed, as will the other seniors.”