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Area stars state their case

February 27, 1999|By MARILYN JANUS and TOM JANUS / Staff Correspondents

Only after the final match is over does the reality sink in - you're going to the state tournament. For 22 area wrestlers, that was the sweetest message to take away from the 1A-2A West Regionals.

For some wrestlers, this is the end of a long, hard journey. Senior Clayton Harr (119) is not only the lone Boonsboro wrestler to go to states this year, he is the only Boonsboro wrestler to ever go to states.

After qualifying his sophomore year as a No. 4 seed and facing a state champion in his first round, Harr failed to qualify at all last year. Now he's back, a third-place finisher, sporting his unique blue-and-white striped knee socks.

"Last year was rough," admitted Harr. "I started the socks right from the start of this season, for good luck, and as my trademark. My parents say I look like a Dr. Seuss character."

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For other wrestlers, the journey is just beginning. The 103-pound final pitted South freshman Brandon Ashby (younger brother of three-sport standout Thomas Ashby) against Francis Scott Key freshman Nate Yinger (younger brother of wrestling state champions Zac and Matt).

Although Ashby was pinned, his No. 2 seed assures that he won't repeat Harr's first-round experience.

"He's really excited about going," said Ashby's father, as Brandon smiled. "You just won't get much out of him."

For some hopefuls, the journey is over too soon. Seth Staley (152), North Hagerstown's defending 140-pound state champion, dropped a 3-1 semifinal decision to Urbana's Steve Chucoski, who also beat him at the regional duals. When he lost his wrestleback match, 11-5, to Beall's Steve Crowe, who he had already pinned in the Hub Cup, he lost his chance to qualify, and forfeited his match for fifth.

His teammate, Ryan Romberger (171), also failed to qualify while North's Mike Dempsher (145), seeded second coming into the tournament, was pinned by FSK's Ronnie Howard for fourth.

But for a chosen few, Western Maryland College is simply where they belong. Middletown's defending state champion, Zane Harshman (160), literally tied up Beall's Jonas Durst to claim his second regional title.

Williamsport's Jared Myers (171), state runner-up to Harshman last year, added a power offense to his formidable defense, dominating Southern Garrett's John Hayhurst, 9-3.

Wildcats Eric Kuczynski (119) and Wayne Boward (130) collected their second titles, while sophmore Ryan McDonald (Hwt.) pinned FSK's Greg Frech for his first.

Walkersville seniors Brooks McClain (112) and Chris Kehne (135) also made the top of the podium: McClain with a 14-2 major over Northern Garrett's Roy Holliday, and Kehne with a hard fought decision over Williams-port's Chris Allen, who he pinned last year for third place.

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