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Knights' experience pays off: Middletown hangs on for narrow victory

December 15, 1999

Knights' experience pays off: Middletown hangs on for narrow victory

Smithsburg vs. MiddletownBy MARILYN JANUS and TOM JANUS / Staff Correspondents

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




SMITHSBURG - Sometimes a dual meet is as hard on the spectators as it is on the wrestlers.

Hard-charging Middletown was coming off last week's Catoctin Duals, where they crowned five individual champions. Combative Smithsburg was wrestling its first match. By the last weight class, when the Knights had edged the Leopards 34-31, everyone on and off the mat was exhausted.

cont. from sports page

"Having a few matches under our belt definitely gave us the edge tonight," said Middletown coach Jim Schartner. "Here are two tough, well-coached teams, after all. But there's nothing like match conditioning."

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"They've already been tested in the fire," agreed Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich. "This is our first burning."

The rust showed early for the ninth-ranked Leopards, who used a college "random draw" system and began the match at 130 pounds. Middletown's Josh Tregoning, with superior upper body strength, was challenged by sophomore Jason Wade, whose motto seemed to be "No guts, no glory." However, Wade couldn't get his moves in tight enough, and was unable to escape in the third period, after being ridden for most of the second.

At 140, Smithsburg's two-time state qualifier Brian Weiblinger, shot a classic double leg on Jason Rippeon. Even though Rippeon didn't show much offense, the fifth-ranked senior escaped at the start of the third period to tie the score. The third-ranked Weiblinger appeared to tire and was taken down for the loss with just 17 seconds left.

At 152, Smithsburg's Pete Quillen inflicted two periods of pain, relieved only by the buzzer, on sophomore Colin Blair. Sagging in the final period, he was unable to pull out a major decision, and was put on his back, settling for an 11-7 victory.

After the 160-pound match, Smithsburg held a one-point lead, lost it at at 171, regained it at 189, lost it again at 275, and never got it back.

Ironically, the random draw worked against Dietrich, since he received an unexpected forfeit at 119, when No. 4-ranked Sean O'Keefe weighed in but did not wrestle.

One exception to the "out of gas" syndrome was Leopard sophomore Mike Dietrich at 145. Impressively smart and strong, Dietrich's reaction time was so quick he consistently waited for his opponent to move, then countered him.

Noteworthy in the Middletown lineup were Junior Brandon Keller (135), a model of patient control from handshake to handraise; Freshman Josh Keeney (160), who literally bench-pressed Junior Ryan Church to escape from his back; and Freshman Ben Saylor (112), very muscular and in constant motion, demonstrating why he went 4-0 at Catoctin.

Middletown faces Williamsport and North Hagerstown in a titan tri-meet on Saturday at home.

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