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Winner's circle

Non-region champs have fared poorly in the state tournament recently.

Non-region champs have fared poorly in the state tournament recently.

February 28, 2002|By AL DITZEL

Recent history in the Maryland State wrestling tournaments is that unless you are a region champ, your odds of winning a state championship is slim.

The state tournament begins Friday at 2:30 p.m. with the first round. The quarterfinals are set for 7:30. On Saturday, wrestling begins at 10 a.m. with consolationbouts. Semifinals are scheduled for noon with the finals, third-place consolations and fifth-place consolations slated for 5 p.m.

In the last two years, counting both 1A/2A and 3A/4A, region champions have won 46 of the 52 state championships.

Five wrestlers who have finished second in a region tourney have come back to win a state title, including Northern Garrett's Blake Huber, who lost to Walkersville's Dan Caywood in the 1A/2A West Region tournament and then defeated the then-freshman Lion in the state 112-pound finals.

Caywood will be looking to turn the tables this weekend. He lost last week to Northern Garrett's Petey Stein, a state champ in 2000 and state runner-up last year, in the 125 West Region final. Caywood, in the opposite bracket as Stein, could meet the Northern senior in the finals on Saturday.

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Thirteen times in the last two years have the same-region wrestlers met in the finals, including Caywood-Huber and Williamsport's Matt Allen and Southern Garrett's John Hayhurst at 189 last year.

Only one region third-place winner, Urbana's John Andrews in 2000, has won a state title and no fourth-place region placers have won a state crown in the last two years.

Only 23 wrestlers who did not win region titles have reached the state finals.

Those region-to-state numbers do not bode well for many of the area's wrestlers this weekend.

Of the 29 area participants wrestling this weekend, only six are region champs. Only Allen (189) is a region champ above the 135 weight class.

From 171 and up, the area has five wrestlers in 1A/2A.

Thomas Johnson's Dan Ellis is the area's lone representative in the 3A/4A tourney. Ellis (275) is the first TJ wrestler to qualify for the states since 1997 and first in coach Jim Latham's tenure.

In fact, of the six area wrestlers in weight classes 171 and up, only Allen, a West Region and state runnerup last year, has any state tourney experience. Allen competed at 160 in 2000.

Here is a brief look at the area wrestlers in the Maryland Class 1A/2A tournament. Five weight clases were featured on Tuesday and five more were featured on Wednesday. Three 1A/2A weight classes, as well as 3A/4A 275 weight class, are featured today.

171

Area participants: Colin Blair (Middletown), Jimmy Francis (Walkersville)

Blair (25-10), a senior, is a making his first appearance in the state tournament. He will meet Bohemia Manor junior Scott Reeves (21-11) in the first round.

Francis (22-9), a sophomore, is making his first state appearance. He will meet Rising Sun junior Erik Williams (26-7), who went 2-2 in last year's tourney, in the first round.

Weight class: Towson senior Andy Posil (38-0) finished fourth in the weight class last year. He would be Blair's likely quarterfinal opponent.

189

Area participants: Matt Allen (Williamsport), Derek Fogle (Catoctin).

Allen (25-0), a senior, is the 2001 runnerup in this weight class. He is a two-time state qualifier with a career state record of 3-2. His first-round opponent, Wheaton senior Drew Sonetirut (13-15), is one of two wrestlers in the tournament with a losing record. Allen has won the Damascus, Hub Cup, Rebel Invitational, Washington County and West Region tournaments this season.

Fogle (27-3), a junior, has lost all three matchups with Allen. Fogle has finished second to Allen at the Rebel and West tourneys. He s a reigning Frederick County Tournament champion. His first-round opponent is Hammond junior Pat Wallace (14-10).

Weight class: Two other state placers in this tournament return. Kent County senior Joey Kirwan (22-1), third last year and second in 2000, is in the bottom bracket with Fogle. If both wrestlers win, they will meet in the quarterfinals. Rising Sun senior Ryan Gwaltney (27-4), fourth last season, is Allen's likely quarterfinal opponent. Allen beat Gwaltney 10-6 in last year's semifinal and defeated Kirwan in the quarterfinals, 8-5.

275

Area participants: Jason Stambaugh (Walkersville), Clayton Swisher (South Hagerstown).

Stambaugh (26-10), a junior, is making his first state appearance. He will meet Mardela junior Keith English (22-5) in the first round.

Swisher (21-7), a junior, is also making his first state appearance. He will meet Kent Island senior Sean McAllister (22-6), who went 0-2 last year, in the first round.

Weight class: Kent County senior Willie Leonard (31-1) finished third last year and second in 2000. He is in the top bracket, away from both Swisher and Stambaugh. Northern Garrett senior Trey Brenneman (27-2) finished fifth last year and is also in the top bracket.

3A/4A 275

Area participant: Dan Ellis (Thomas Johnson).

Ellis (22-8), a senior, is making his first state appearance. In fact, he is the first Thomas Johnson wrestler since 1997 to qualify for states. Ellis will wrestle Old Mill junior William Bell (29-5) in te first round.

Weight class: Parkdale senior Daniel Muir (22-1) finished second in the tourney last year. If Ellis wins, he will likely meet Muir in the quarterfinals. Gaitherburg senior Brendan McCarron (10-1) finished second at 189 last year. He is also in Ellis' half of the draw.

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