Bowers, Wildcats pin down crowns

February 24, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Williamsport's Ryan Bowers turned the best weight class in Saturday's Washington County wrestling championships into his personal proving ground.

The 132-pound class was the only one with two Class 2A-1A state-ranked wrestlers - South Hagerstown's Stephen Copeland and Smithsburg's Adam Roane - competing. Bowers beat them both, putting his name on the map with regionals a week away while leading the Wildcats to the team title.

"I knew if I could go out there, wrestle my match and finish my takedowns, I could beat both of them in my mind," Bowers said.

"He's got a lot of skills in practice, he's strong, he's a good wrestler and I think he can beat anybody," Williamsport coach Chuck Martin said. "(Beating two state-ranked wrestlers) doesn't surprise me."


Facing Copeland - Maryland's No. 4 wrestler at 130 - Bowers got the first takedown and turned it into a three-point nearfall for the deciding points in an 8-4 decision.

"I got a 5-0 lead on him, and I thought I could lay back," Bowers said. "He came back and put a scare into me, but I was able to win the match."

The championship duel with Roane - Maryland's No. 6 wrestler at 130 - was the best match of the evening. Trailing 7-4 with a minute left, Bowers got a takedown and three-point nearfall for a 9-7 lead, before both wrestlers were sent back to the middle of the circle with six seconds left.

Still in the down position, Roane came up with a lightning-quick reversal just as time ran out, tying the match at 9-9 and forcing overtime.

Undaunted, Bowers made the first move in OT, shooting for Roane's leg. Bowers completed the single-leg takedown for the 11-9 victory as Williamsport's supporters erupted.

"I couldn't do anything about (the end of regulation)," Bowers said. "I felt I was in better shape than him, and if I could get to his leg, I could finish."

Bowers' effort was the main highlight in the Wildcats' team victory, but hardly the only one as Williamsport scored 148 points to beat runner-up North Hagerstown by 20 1/2.

Devin Hewitt won his third straight county title, getting the first takedown against Smithsburg's Jeff Sprecher and converting the pin 1:59 into their 147-pound championship bout.

"I was kind of nervous in the beginning, but once I got the first takedown I felt pretty good," said Hewitt, who won at 112 two years ago and 125 last year. "Each year, I get less nervous, the jitters go away and I have more confidence."

Corey Leggett - who last won a county title as a 103-pound freshman in 2000 - got his second in his senior year, pinning North's Matt Stowell 36 seconds into their 137-pound final.

"I just had a couple tough ones, lost a couple toughies," Leggett said of the previous two years. "The first takedown is the key to the match, usually the first person to get a takedown wins."

Mike McGill (114) and Brian Forsyth (121) also won titles for Williamsport, while Jeff Short (127), Spencer Peyton (142) and Trenton Almeda (154) reached the championship round to give the Wildcats eight finalists.

"Having eight guys in the finals, that won it for us," Martin said. "We lost to North and lost to Smithsburg (in dual meets), so this was our chance to redeem ourselves."

The Hubs' Mike Wagner won his third straight county title by beating Short 7-0 in the 127-pound final.

"I just wanted to wrestle my style and wrestle a good, clean match," said Wagner, whose previous titles came at 103 and 112. "I was disappointed I couldn't get the pin, but I wrestled OK and a win is a win. I tried to control the match, control the tempo."

Devin Baer (162), Andrew Widmeyer (173) and Steve Feight (191) also won titles for North.

South Hagerstown's Clayton Swisher won his second consectutive county title, following up last year's crown at 275 with a 44-second pin on Smithsburg's Mike Rinebolt in the 215 final. Emens Rho (154) and James Price (275) also won titles for the Rebels.

Bret Nalley (105) was the only champion for Boonsboro, while Joe Fox (142) won Smithsburg's only title.

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