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Eagle wrestlers still flying high

July 07, 1999|By MARILYN JANUS and TOM JANUS / Staff Correspondents

Technically speaking, senior Anthony Regalbuto of Hedgesville High School became the first national champion in the history of Tri-State area wrestling on June 28.

Technically speaking, teammate Bryan Moats became the area's youngest national champion later in the day.

[cont. from sports page]

Regalbuto and Moats each claimed individual titles in the Second Annual National Open High School Championships held June 26-28 in Birmingham, Ala.

At 135 pounds, Regalbuto, the 1999 W.Va. Class AAA state champion, defeated two-time New Jersey state champion David Cordoba, 9-2, in the finals to top a field of 48 wrestlers.

"The competition wasn't any tougher than states, there was just more of it," said Regalbuto, who was fourth in this event last year. "Cordoba only lost two matches in high school. He was really good at neutral, so I wasn't able to be as aggressive with him. Fortunately, I got a takedown in each period, and escaped in the second."

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Moats (140), the state runner-up this year, more than made up for a first-round bye, pinning two opponents before trouncing David Gay of Georgia in the championship round, 11-3.

"It was close until the last 30 seconds," the Hedgesville junior said. "Then he tried to throw me and I put him on his back for five points. I thought this competition was tougher than states. But I also felt I was stronger and quicker than most of the kids I wrestled."

Wayne Boward of Williamsport finished fifth at 135 for All-American honors. He made it to the semifinals from the opposite side of the bracket from Regalbuto, losing 11-2 to Cordoba.

"He threw legs in on me as soon as he took me down," said Boward, who's finished third in Maryland 1A-2A state tournament two years in a row. "Nobody's ever gotten me in that situation before, and I didn't know how to counter it."

Jefferson's Devin Abshire went 1-2 at 125, while Hedgesville's Dustin Bowers and Jefferson's Chantz Griffith each finished 1-2 at 112.

All the wrestlers were quick to credit teamwork for their success.

"I thought we were better conditioned," Moats said. "I did lots of drilling and live wrestling to prepare for this, most of it with Anthony."

"There are always wrestlers better than you are," Regalbuto said. "The glory goes to whoever works the hardest."

In the team competition, West Virginia finished fifth, Pennsylvania was ninth and Maryland 13th, down from fourth in 1998.

"Those West Virginia wrestlers were very impressive and very physical," tournament director Al Bevilacqua said said of Moats and Regalbuto. "They both defeated some very talented wrestlers with excellent credentials."

This year's Open, sponsored by the National High School Coaches Association and HealthSouth, drew 808 wrestlers from 33 states, almost 300 more than last year. Illinois won the team title.

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