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Lightweights highlight Hub Cup

January 13, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

It would probably be a good idea to arrive early to the 16th annual Hub Cup Invitational today at North Hagerstown High School.

While the championship finals aren't scheduled to begin until 7:30 p.m., this morning's opening action will be well worth watching.

Day two of the Hub Cup kicks off with the championship semifinals at 10:30 a.m., and the little guys starting things off are the big attraction.

All four of the 105-pound bracket's undefeated wrestlers went 2-0 Friday to advance to the semis, where the feature showdown pits Walkersville's Gleason Sweeney (17-0) against Frederick's Mark Tsikerdanos (5-0). And Sweeney knows his top seeding doesn't mean much facing Tsikerdanos, who's missed much of the season with a broken hand.

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"I wrestled (Tsikerdanos) a couple years ago and he beat me. He beats me every time," said Sweeney, who advanced with a pin and decision Friday. "But I think I'll do well. It's going to be a good match. I haven't wrestled him in a while, so we'll just see when the match comes."

"It's unfortunate. I wish it would be in the finals," said Walkersville coach Bryan Biehl. "But all four guys are undefeated and that's where they fall. That's the way it should be."

Actually, most things fell in Biehl's favor Friday. The Lions advanced 10 wrestlers to today's semifinals and were first in the team standings following the championship quarterfinals with 99 points, six more than second-place Quince Orchard. Paint Branch was a distant third with 68.5, while North Hagerstown (57) and defending-champ Williamsport (53) rounded out the top five.

"We're confident. We got them through the quarterfinals," said Biehl. "We need to get them in the finals now. Our goal is to win this."

Walkersville's other two top seeds wasted little time Friday. Ed Asbill advanced with a pair of pins at 132, while Dan Caywood moved on with a tech fall and 29-second pin.

At 114, the much-anticipated finals matchup between Williamsport's Mike McGill - last year's 105 Hub Cup champ and most outstanding wrestler - and Quince Orchard's Frankie Baughan - last season's Maryland Class 3A-4A champ at 103 - is still on course. Both unbeaten grapplers advanced with a pair of first-period pins Friday.

"If I wrestle well (in the semis) I'll have a real tough match in the finals," said McGill. "I'll have to wrestle a mistake-free match. But I feel pretty confident. I've worked harder than anybody I've wrestled."

For the host Hubs, Mike Wagner - the top seed at 127 - appears to be sitting pretty. He scored two pins Friday and has defeated two of the three remaining wrestlers left in the bracket already this season.

"That gives me confidence," said Wagner. "But it's always different. You have to come out hard every time."

South Hagerstown's Clayton Swisher, the top seed at 217, was also in cruise control, registering two quick falls.

"I'm sure there will be tougher matches down the road," said Swisher. "But I've been working hard, I'm in decent shape and I'm pretty confident."

Thomas Johnson's Mark Esmont, the second seed at 191, had Friday's fastest draw, using a total of just 52 seconds to pin his two opponents.

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