Wrestlers eye state crowns

March 04, 2004|by ANDREW MASON

Williamsport wrestling coach Mike Rechtorovic does sound a bit like Norman Dale, the Hickory boys basketball coach played by Gene Hackman in the movie "Hoosiers."

The Wildcats are taking an area-high seven wrestlers to this weekend's Maryland State Wrestling Tournament, which for the first time is being held at University of Maryland's Cole Field House - a definite step up in venue from past years at McDaniel College. And Rechtorovic needs to help his team keep it all in the proper perspective.

"Yeah, it's going to be in Cole Field House and, yeah, there's going to be a lot of people," Rechtorovic said. "But the circle on the mat is the same size as the one in Williamsport's gym. It's still just a wrestling match. It just happens to be in a bigger building.


"I don't want to get all 'Hoosiers'-sounding, but that's the way it is."

In the movie, Hickory won the 1952 Indiana state title. With seven wrestlers - including West region champs Ryan Bowers (125 pounds), Mike McGill (135) and Jeff Short (140) - anything seems possible for West runner-up Williamsport in the state's Class 2A-1A field.

"There's a lot of good wrestlers, but a lot of teams don't have seven kids going. It definitely helps our cause to bring seven possible scorers to the tournament," Rechtorovic said. "If we wrestle well, it hopefully will turn out well for us. But I can't start thinking about how we'll do as a team. We just have to focus on one match at a time."

Of the seven Wildcats - also including Earl Neville (103), Spencer Peyton (119), Adam Bridendolph (145) and Rob Shawley (275) - only Bowers and McGill have state-tourney experience. Bowers placed fifth at 135 as a sophomore in 2002, while McGill placed third at 103 as a freshman in 2002 and sixth at 112 last year, when he dropped his final two bouts by default with a knee injury.

Since returning midway through this season from an injury to the same knee, McGill has topped the state rankings at 135, seemingly on a do-or-die mission for state gold.

"It's unsaid. We know it. He knows it. He's been working toward this goal for three years," Rechtorovic said. "Hopefully, this is the year he gets it done. If he wrestles the way he can, it should be doable.

"But everybody's good enough to beat everybody else down there. If you make one mistake, it could be the one that does you in."

Washington County's other competitors are South Hagerstown's Adam Hockensmith (130), North Hagerstown's Jonathan Breehl (152), Boonsboro's Brett Nalley (112) and Smithsburg's Derick Quillen (130), Jeff Sprecher (160), Scott White (189) and Mike Rinebolt (215).

Hockensmith is the only one of that group with state experience, as short-lived as it was. Last year, he lost 19-6 in the 119 preliminaries to eventual state champ Rob Cooper of Owings Mills - and was finished.

But wrestlers won't be sent home so suddenly this year. For the first time, all first-round losers will receive second chances in the consolation brackets.

That should be especially good news for the fourth-place region finishers - such as Quillen, Sprecher and White - who immediately have to face champs from other regions.

"It's not all that because some regions aren't as tough as ours," Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich said. "The bottom line is that we have one of the strongest regions, so facing a region champ doesn't concern me.

"But the fact that there are full wrestlebacks is a great deal. Before, you lose first round and you're history."

Other area wrestlers competing in 2A-1A include: Middletown's Ryan Tice (112), Matt Maddox (130), Mike Schlepp (135), Dan McCallion (215) and Andrew Presnell (275); Catoctin's Rick Toms (152); Walkersville's Chad Cotterman (135), Mike Smith (140), Dan Caywood (145), Jimmy Francis (171), Igor Chudinov (189) and Billy Burke (215); and Brunswick's Terry Bartholomew (112), Mike Leveille (140) and Chad Stocks (160).

Caywood, a three-time West champ, placed third at 140 last season.

In the Class 4A-3A field are Thomas Johnson's Mark Esmont (189) and Brendan Walmsley (215) and Frederick's Mark Tsikerdanos (125) and Matt Sanicola (140). Tsikerdanos, who won the 103 state title as a freshman last year, is 31-0 this season and 56-0 for his career. Esmont, who suffered his first loss of the season in the 4A-3A North finals last weekend, placed third at 189 last year.

Lisko hits Hershey

Reaching the PIAA State Wrestling Championships at Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., is a giant victory in itself.

Waynesboro senior Brian Lisko (135) is the area's only athlete who has a berth in the championships, which begin today and conclude Saturday. He's the first Indian to compete at states since Nick Sanders in 2001.

"Our goal is to place (top eight), but it's going to be a tall task," Waynesboro coach Aaron Taylor said. "Brian needs to wrestle well right away, just like every other tournament. But his bracket ... boy, it doesn't get any easier."

Lisko (35-3), who earned the Class AAA Southcentral Region's third seed, faces Bald Eagle's Clint Shirk (35-2), the Northwest champ and last year's bronze medalist at 125, in the first round. The winner of that match likely will face Southwest champ and returning state placewinner Dan Burkholder (40-0) of Trinity. On the other side of the bracket is Penn-Trafford's Tom Picarsic, last year's runner-up at 135.

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