Wrestling - Saints stay in present while dreaming of future

February 04, 2005|by ANDREW MASON

The St. James wrestling team is having another fine season.

Take a look at the numbers. The Saints are 14-7 in dual meets, ranked No. 6 in the area and last weekend won their third straight Mid Atlantic Conference tournament title.

"My guys are highly competitive," said St. James first-year head coach Jesse Young. "We're not at that top tier yet, but we can compete with just about anybody in the area. Every one of our losses, other than Mercersburg, has been by one match."

Their strength is their depth. Listen to these numbers.

"There are only 120 boys in the whole school, and we have 54 of them in the wrestling program," Young said. "We're in great shape."


Of those 54, only six are seniors. Of those six, only three are varsity starters. The Saints should be in even better shape in the coming years.

"This program keeps building and getting stronger," Young said. "We've had a fantastic season this year without much senior leadership. That only bodes well for the future."

Senior 160-pounder Sam Ashelman has been St. James' leader this season. He's 31-1, No. 3 in the private-school state rankings and one of the team's four MAC weight-class champions.

"He's having a great season," Young said. "His only loss is to Chris Conner, the monster from Martinsburg, in the finals at Berkeley Springs (Max Horz Invitational)."

Ashelman might find himself a date with Mount St. Joseph monster Sam Lewnes at the state private-school tourney in two weeks. Lewnes is regarded as one of the state's premier wrestlers of all weight classes.

"Sam Lewnes is the next target," Young said. "Stranger things have happened. If he has a good day and Lewnes has a bad day, it could work."

Freshman James Rogers (103), junior Rex Salisbury (145) and sophomore Jimmy Sutch (152) - the Saints' other MAC champs - also have more than 20 wins each this season.

Getting socked with Salisbury, Sutch and Ashelman back-to-back-to-back has been the knockout blow for many opponents.

"They're my mini murderer's row - 145 to 160," Young said.

Whittington's numbers

Last weekend couldn't have worked out much better for longtime Hedgesville coach Bill Whittington. His Eagles went 5-0 to win the Cumberland Valley Athletic League dual-meet tournament while he picked up career victory No. 300.

In his 22 years at Hedgesville, Whittington is 303-163-3. The No. 2 Eagles are 27-6 this season, securing their 13th straight winning season and Whittington's 14th overall.

Under Whittington, Hedgesville has won 10 Berkeley County championships, five CVAL titles and two region crowns. He's coached five individual state champs, five state runners-up and 18 wrestlers with 100 or more career wins.

West Virginia rankings

Musselman's Dustin Haislip is ranked first at 112 in the season's first batch of West Virginia Wrestling Coaches Association/ Class AAA state rankings, released Wednesday.

Also for Musselman, Billy Barrett is eighth at 125.

For Jefferson, Colton Gustines is third at 103 and Scott Chapman fifth at 112.

For Hedgesville, Derrick Young is second at 189, Troy Foltz third at 152, Joe Shetler fifth at 119, Jared Sella sixth at 160, Danny Armstrong seventh at 103 and Justin Everhart eighth at 171.

For Martinsburg, Robert Conner is third at 171, Chris Conner fourth at 160 and Derek Thayer eighth at 140.

In Class AA/A for Berkeley Springs, Tyson Bennett is sixth at 152, Randy Waugh seventh at 189 and Brian McCann eighth at 140.

Region duals

It appears the area's two leading contenders (Smithsburg and Walkersville) to make next week's Maryland Class 2A-1A West dual-meet championships will both be staying home.

The matchups likely will be South Carroll vs. Beall in one semifinal and Southern Garrett vs. Francis Scott Key in the other.

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