Washington County tourney is Leopards' to lose

February 18, 2005|by ANDREW MASON

Whether Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich likes to admit it or not, the Leopards are the favorites to win the team title at the 15th annual Washington County Public Schools Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at North Hagerstown.

"You can never say anyone's a favorite," Dietrich said, "especially in a five-team tournament because the numbers are so close."

Smithsburg, however, did beat every team in the county this season on the way to the MVAL Antietam Conference title and has six No. 1 seeds for the tourney - James Reilly (112 pounds), Derick Quillen (140), Jeff Sprecher (160), Jeremy Harbaugh (171), Nate Hayes (189) and Mike Rinebolt (215) - and four No. 2 seeds - Wes McKenen (125), Jon Gauss (130), Brandon Knight (145) and Justin Hovermale (152).

"Smithsburg has the team depth," said North coach Greg Slick, whose Hubs have won five county team titles. "I'd say just by looking at it that Smithsburg has a pretty good edge."


The Leopards won three straight county titles from 1991-93, but none since. Two-time defending champ Williamsport has won six times. Neither South Hagerstown nor Boonsboro has ever won, and that likely won't change this year.

"It'll probably be a three-team deal because South has a lot of forfeits and so does Boonsboro," Dietrich said. "A tournament this small, it's all about filling the weight classes."

The other No. 1 seeds, determined by winning percentage, are: South's Derick Boerstler (103) and Terrail Blair (135); Williamsport's Peter Smith (119) and Mike McGill (145); Boonsboro's Bret Nalley (125); and North's Chris Bumbaugh (130), Jonathan Breehl (152) and Andrew Brigham (275).

Nalley, McGill, Breehl and Sprecher are returning champs. McGill is aiming for his fourth county crown.

Williamsport sophomore Earl Neville, who won at 103 last year, is not competing Saturday. North's Dean Staley, the defending champ at 171, is. But he's not the No. 1 seed at 171, Harbaugh is. Circle that potential final on your brackets as one to watch.

Another intriguing weight class is 119. In duals action this season, top-seeded Smith pinned North's second-seeded Jim Eichelberger, who won by major decision over Smithsburg's third-seeded Logan Miss, who beat Smith by decision.

The 152 weight class is the only bracket with two 20-match winners - Breehl (23-3) and Hovermale (22-7). Breehl pinned Hovermale earlier this season.

At 130, Williamsport's Todd Judd, the No. 3 seed, has more wins (20) than either No. 1 Bumbaugh (eight) or No. 2 Gauss (15).

And at 275, Brigham might be No. 1, but in his only bout this season with South's second-seeded Jeremy Gross, he got pinned.

"There are good kids at every weight class in the county," Dietrich said. "There aren't many schools in Washington County, but there's some pretty good wrestling."

While Dietrich might not want to be the favorite, he wants to win.

"This is huge," he said. "It's been several years since we've won. The guys, especially the seniors, are looking to put this under our belt and put us in a decent mode for practicing for regionals next week."

Lots of action

This is a major weekend for every Tri-State team.

· St. James is at the Maryland Independent Schools State Tournament at McDonogh High School in Owings Mills.

· The Frederick County Tournament is at Thomas Johnson.

· Mercersburg Academy is at the Pennsylvania Independent Schools State Tournament in Pottstown, while the PIAA postseason kicks off with sectional tournaments. In District 3 Class AAA, Chambersburg is in Section I at Mechanicsburg, and Waynesboro is in Section IV at South Western. In District 3 Class AA, Greencastle and James Buchanan both are in Section IV at Susquenita.

· In West Virginia Region II action, Hedgesville, Jefferson, Martinsburg and Musselman are in the Class AAA tourney at Marion County Armory in Fairmont, while Berkeley Springs is in the Class AA-A tourney at Braxton County.

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