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Area's wrestling fleet goes for brass ring

March 01, 2002|BY AL DITZEL

When the Maryland Class 1A/2A wrestling tournament begins today at Western Maryland College, 29 area wrestlers will take to the mats.

Last year, the area produced two state champions - both in 3A/4A. This year, with 28 of the area's 29 wrestlers in 1A/2A, that won't happen.

The area has six West Region champs - Williamsport's Mike McGill and Matt Allen, North Hagerstown's Mike Wagner and Chris Joliet, South Hagerstown's Brandon Ashby and Middletown's Ryan McQuillen - in the tournament.

"It's a nice accomplishment," Joliet said of winning a region title. "But, at the state tournament, you can throw all those accomplishments and records out the window."

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Allen appears to have the area's best chance of bringing home a state title. A runnerup last year, Allen returns to the 189-pound weight class at 25-0, and is one of only five unbeaten wrestlers in the tournament.

He defeated his two toughest opponents in this year's tourney in last year's event. After disposing of Kent County's Joey Kirwan 8-5 in the quarterfinals, Allen downed Rising Sun's Ryan Gwaltney 10-6 in the semifinals in 2001. Gwaltney is Allen's likely quarterfinal opponent.

"I don't wrestle just to win," Allen said. "I wrestle to dominate."

This year, he has done just that. He has already defeated Catoctin junior Derek Fogle three times this season. Kirwan is is Fogle's bracket.

"I can't worry about wrestling anyone," Allen said. "I can't change my style. Joey's a great wrestler, but I can't worry about him now."

Ashby is the area's lone four-time qualifier. He has yet to get out of the first round, competing in consolations twice.

"I just have to work out with tougher opponents," Ashby said of his preparation. "Coach (Brian) Brake and my brother (South graduate, Thomas) will probably work with me this week."

Williamsport junior Corey Leggett is the only area returning two-time placewiner.

Also, in the team race, Williamsport has eight wrestlers in the event. Only Kent County and Owings Mills have more wrestlers - nine. Harford Tech also has eight participants. Owings Mills defeated Kent County for the 1A/2A dual meet title last month.

Area Participants

(State records, if available)

Catoctin - Derek Fogle; Smithsburg - Mike Dietrich (4-4); Middletown - Ryan McQuillen (0-1), Colin Blair; North Hagerstown - Mike Wagner, Chris Joliet (0-2), Steve Fravel (3-3), Matt Ranieli, Scott Greenwald, Dustin McDonough; South Hagerstown - Dan Dury, Stephen Copeland, Brandon Ashby (2-5), Clayton Swisher; Thomas Johnson - Dan Ellis (4A/3A); Walkersville - Chad Cottrman, Dan Caywood (3-1), Ed Asbill (0-2), Tim Mulford, Jimmy Francis, Jason Stambaugh; Williamsport - Mike McGill, Brian Forsythe (0-1), Cory Kuczynski, Devin Hewitt, Corey Leggett (6-4), Ryan Bowers (0-2), Travis Brown (2-3), Matt Allen (3-2).

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