Forget Beasts of East ... West still best in wrestling

March 11, 1999|By Marilyn Janus and Tom Janus

How many ways can we find to say it?

If you mess with the West, you lose to the best. Consider:

* Five out of the top 10 teams in Maryland Class 1A-2A's 66 schools came from the West.

* So did one undefeated two-time state champion.

* As did six first-time state champions, three finalists and 16 who wrestled in the final rounds.

* And all four region representitives finished in the points at 152 and 160 while both finalist at 171 came from this side of South Mountain.

Every state tournament has its own character, and this one was no different. If brackets could talk, here's what they might say:


* 1. Seedings are important. North's Andrew Nichols (112), Jimmy Starkey (119), Mike Dempsher (145) and E.B. Wallech (275) all began competition as fourth seeds. Nichols, a sophomore in his state debut, wrestled the eventual state champion in the first round. So did Starkey. Wallech drew Hammond's Matt Nelson, who pinned him at last year's State Duals. Only Dempsher pulled off the upset.

* 2. Wrestle your style. Williamsport's Wayne Boward (130), the most aggressive wrestler on the mat all season, opted for defense against eventual runner-up Mikey Blake. He lost his semifinal 7-5 in overtime. He regained his take-no-prisoners style in the consolation bracket, battling back for third.

Walkersville's Chris Kehne (135), on the other hand, won his state title by using the same flamboyant, do-or-die takedown move that has highlighted his entire career.

* 3. Don't get mad, get even. Southern Garrett's Eric Rexrode (145), Nick Dolan (152) and Russell Crosco (189) were all No. 1 seeds. Rexrode and Dolan were undefeated. But each lost early. They all wrestled back for third, to help the Rams finish fourth as a team.

Pa. Southeast Region AA/AAA

Greencastle's Wayne Medina (130) and Mike Corbin (171) advanced to states by placing second in Southeast Regional.

Medina lost, 5-3, to Todd Platts of West York, while Corbin fell 7-3 to Dave Finger of Pequea Valley.

However, Corbin won a semifinal rideout against nemesis, Matt Good of Boiling Springs.

Corbin and Medina join Waynesboro's Craig Hight (145) and Chambersburg's Tyler Hart (275) in this weekend's state tournament at Hersheypark Arena.

Class AA preliminaries begin Thursday at 8:30 a.m, while Class AAA preliminaries start at 4 p.m. Championships are Saturday at 8 p.m.

Food for thought

There a very thin line between second and third place in a state wrestling tournament.

Both wrestlers only have one loss, but its a matter of when they suffered the defeat. You can only finish second if lose in the finals. Third place comes from losing early and holding back all challegers in the consolation bracket.

The problem with the Maryland state tournament, not everyone has the chance to finish third. The tournament employs the "follow the winner" system for qualifying for the consolation instead of an open wrestleback.

This system turns Maryland's 16-member bracket into an eight-man dash for the title. Meanwhile, the whole meaning of going for third though fifth place.

With the follow the winner system, first-round losers must wait for the results of the second round to see if they are still in the tournament. If that victor wins, they're in. If he loses, it's a one-and-done situation.

The rules of any sport should be designed to facilitate and not restrict. The current system isn't in the best interest of the wrestlers.

Maryland's board of control says a full wrestleback would lenghthen the tournament, forcing an expensive change of venue. Currently, Western Maryland College is used rent-free.

No matter the reasons, Maryland needs to find a way to get with the program, the one that has been adopted elsewhere in the nation ... start full wrestlebacks.

We reply: It's time for the state to adopt the can-do attitude of its wrestlers.

You'll never know what can happen until you try.

Be There

* Haswell M. Franklin Senior All-Star Classic, rescheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. at River Hill High School.

Jared Myers, Williamsport's state champion at 171, Middletown's Zane Harshman and Kehne will be joined by Northern Garrett's Jesse Shimrock (140) and Urbana's Steve Chucoski (152) to represent the Class 1A-2A West Region against the best seniors of 3A-4A and the Independent schools.

Chucoski faces Paul Boettcher from Archbishop Curley, who was third at National Preps, while Harshman takes on Scott McAdoo from Calvert Hall.

In what may be the marquee weight class, Myers tangles with 3A-4A state champion John Thornton from C. Milton Wright and DeMatha's Wes Cummings, a two-time National Prep champion.

All Freshman-Sophomore and all-Junior teams will be announced, as well as the All-Academic team.

Marilyn and Tom Janus cover wrestling for the Morning Herald.

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