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Feeling all right - Ranieli overcomes obstacles to make states

February 27, 2002|By AL DITZEL

Matt Ranieli is simply a feel-good story. After a tumultuous junior year in which his father died, the North Hagerstown senior will be wrestling in the Maryland Class 1A/2A state tournament on Friday.

It wasn't a sure bet that he'd even qualify. Ranieli missed four weeks of this season with a dislocated elbow. Initially, it seemed he would be out for the season.

When Ranieli returned, he challenged freshman Dean Staley for the 135-pound position in the Hubs' lineup and lost.

Then coach Greg Slick made a major decision.

"I started counting region points and Matt had more. Matt's a senior and I made the decision that he would finish the season," Slick said.

Slick said he thought Ranieli would qualify for the West Region tourney. Actually, he didn't.

So Slick needed to sway some people to get Ranieli into the event.

"We have a standing policy in our region that if there's an extenuating circumstance, like an injury, we'd allow a wrestler to compete in a pigtail," Slick said.

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Ranieli caught a break, but he was the one who needed to make the most of it.

He did.

"When that kid won his match, that kind of guaranted him a place to got the staes, it was a bawl-fest," Slick said of the tearful reaction. "His mom came out of the stands, jumped and screamed.

"He was not only proud and happy for winning, but he was probably thinking about his dad," Slick said. "He bawled for a long time - happiness. It was really a neat thing to be part of."

The coach and four-year wrestler, who also plays soccer and lacrosse, had a moment for themselves, as well.

"I told him how much he desevrved it," Slick said. "I told him, 'I know you thought I didn't believe in you.' I told him that I wanted him to show everyone else that I had made the right decision."

Here's a brief look at the area wrestlers in the Maryland Class 1A/2A tournament. Five weight classes will be featured, beginning with 103 pounds on Tuesday and today and three weight classes, as well as 3A/4A 275, will be featured Thursday.

135

Area participants: Brandon Ashby (South Hagerstown), Ryan Bowers (Williamsport), Matt Ranieli (North Hagerstown)

Ashby (30-1), a senior, has dominated area competition, winning Rebel Invitational, Washington County Tournament and West Region titles. He was second at Hub Cup to Northwest's Caleb Seufert, who wrestles in 3A/4A. This is Ashby's fourth trip to the states. Ashby will meet Duval senior Sean Steele-Weekes (21-10) in the first round.

Bowers (27-11), a sophomore, is making his second trip to the states. Always in the hunt, Bowers did not win any individual titles this season. He will meet Baltimore Poly senior Zach Barnes (23-8).

Ranieli (14-9), a senior, will meet Hammond junior Dan Snyder (24-11).

Overall weight class: Owings Mills senior Clayton Arnold (36-0) is a two-time state placer and sits in the bottom bracket. He could meet Bowers in the second round. Ashby is in the top bracket.

140

Area particpiant: Travis Brown (Williamsport)

Brown (23-7), a senior, is a WCT champion. He will meet Carver A&T junior Bernie Clafferty (32-7) in the first round. Brown is a two-time state qualifier. He won two bouts in the 145 class last season before falling to sixth place.

Overall weight class: Also in Brown's half of the draw is Mardela junior LaMitchell Primm (25-3), a fifth-place winner last year. Parkside's Alex Necessary (28-5), a fourth-place winner last year at 130, is in the upper bracket.

145

Area participants: Scott Greenwald (North), Tim Mulford (Walkersville)

Greenwald (21-6), a senior, is a first-time state qualifier. He won the WCT this season. He will meet Easton junior Josh Creighton (25-11) in the first round. Greenwald, who injured a shoulder earlier this season, says he's near 100 percent.

Mulford (24-8), a junior, is a first-time state qualifier. He will meet Stephen Decatur junior Chip Purnell (29-3) in the first round. After missing last year due to a knee injury, Mulford has rebounded to win many key bouts for the Lions.

Overall weight class: North Harford senior Chad Rolan (26-3) was third at 135 in '01. He is in the upper half of the bracket, along with Mulford and Northern Garrett junior Darric Kamp (26-5), the West Region champ. Greenwald is in the bottom bracket.

152

Area particpants: Ryan McQuillen (Middletown), Dustin McDonough (North).

McQuillen (27-1), a senior, avenged his only loss of the season last week when he defeated McDonough in the West Region finals. McQuillen, a Damascus, Hub Cup, Frederick County Tournament and West Region champ, will meet Wheaton senior Soul Pio (10-14) in the first round. Pio is one of only two wrestlers in the 1A/2A tourney with a losing record. McQuillen is a two-time state qualifier.

McDonough (26-5), a senior, is a two-time WCT champ. He handed McQuillen a major-decision loss in a December dual meet. He is a first-time state qualifier. McDonough meets Altholton senior Jonathan Assaraf (17-17) in the first round.

Overall weight class: Joppatowne senior Phil Parrow (32-1), second at 145 last year, and Bohemia Manor junior Brandon Morris (24-5) are the two previous state qualifiers in McDonough's half of the draw. Kent County junior Trey Kohl (29-5) went 2-2 at 160 in the state tourney last year. He is McQuillen's likely opponent in the quarterfinals.

160

Area participant: Mike Dietrich (Smithsburg)

Dietrich (26-2), a senior, is a three-time state qualifier. He won the Leopard Invitational and WCT titles this season. Dietrich will meet Towson senior Chris Hamman (29-11) in the first round.

Overall weight class: Beall senior Nick Durst (32-0) is the returning state champ and pinned Dietrich in last week's West Region final. Hereford senior Mike Redier (32-3) was second at 160 last year and sixth at 140 in 2000. He is in Dietrich's half of the draw; their earliest meeting would be in the semifinals.

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