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Leopards use tourney as state rehearsal

December 30, 2004|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Jeff Sprecher and Mike Rinebolt have tunnel vision this winter.

The Maryland state wrestling tournament is the only thing the Smithsburg seniors see.

Wednesday night, the home crowd enjoyed seeing their "warm-up" as Sprecher and Rinebolt, the Leopards' two returning state placewinners from last season, won titles at the 16th annual Leopard Holiday Invitational. In the finals, Sprecher successfully defended his title at 160 pounds, beating Milford Mill's Aaron Smith 8-2, while Rinebolt defeated Walter Johnson's Leo Volcy 4-1 at 215.

"We're basically just trying to get ready for states again," said Sprecher, who placed sixth in Class 2A-1A at 160 last season, while Rinebolt took fifth at 215. "We want to get back to states and try to place higher. Everything else during the season is just a warm-up to get ready for it."

Of course, being the top seeds on their home mats, as Sprecher and Rinebolt were, had to be somewhat difficult for the wrestlers to look past.

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"We've never been seeded first before. All the pressure's on you. We knew it would be tough," Sprecher said. "Being at home, we wanted to defend our turf in front of our home crowd."

"It's a big deal," Rinebolt said. "It's nice to wrestle in front of the home crowd and go out and win a championship."

The Leopards, who sent six wrestlers to the finals, also received a title from sophomore Justin Hovermale at 152. Hovermale, who captured the tourney's Outstanding Wrestler honor, beat Springbrook's Joe Klass 6-2 in the finals.

James Reilley (112), Derick Quillen (135) and Brandon Knight (140) each finished second for Smithsburg, which finished third in the 10-team standings with 151 points. Rising Sun won its third title in the last four years and sixth overall with 196 points. Tuscarora finished sixth (127) and Catoctin was ninth (102).

Andrew Hyrkas (119), Tuscarora's lone champion, beat Rising Sun's Nick Dawson 6-2 in the finals at 119.

Catoctin had three champs - Dusty Kidd (103), Andy Kokoski (130) and Brad Brown (135). In the finals, Kidd edged Tuscarora's Brian Jamison 5-4, while Kokoski and Brown both prevailed in overtime. Brown beat Quillen 4-2, while Kokoski pinned Springbrook's Sergey Golosinsky in perhaps the tourney's most thrilling bout.

Kokoski, who trailed Golosinsky 15-10 late in the third period, made it 15-12 with a reversal with 30 seconds left and tied it at 15-15 with a buzzer-beating nearfall. He then completed his match-winning move in overtime, sticking Golosinsky in 6:49.

"I had the guy on his back, so I figured I'd go for the pin for more points," said Kokoski, who pinned all three of his opponents Wednesday. "All my wins this year have been pins so I wanted to go for it again."

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