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'Cats star set to shine again at states

March 03, 2005|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

In the universe of high school wrestling, Williamsport senior Mike McGill is the star of his own solar system.

As the accomplishments and achievements have spun around the 145-pounder like planets this winter, everyone on earth has been left steaming up the telescope lens trying to catch a peek.

Here are some of the glimpses:

On Jan. 15, McGill is voted Outstanding Wrestler at the Hub Cup at North Hagerstown. On Jan. 21, he wins his 100th career match at the Rebel Invitational at South Hagerstown, where he again is named Outstanding Wrestler. On Feb. 19, McGill becomes the fifth four-time champion of the Washington County Tournament. And last Saturday, he became the first four-time region champ in Maryland Class 2A-1A West.

McGill hasn't just won, he's dominated. Of his 29 victories this season, only three have gone the distance - all major decisions.

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Despite his vast success, McGill just sees himself as one of the boys. When he thinks about the universe of prep wrestling, he's not at the center of it. The sport of wrestling is.

"Wrestling is pretty much the only thing I have going for me," McGill said. "That's how I've made most of my friends, that's how I got known. To be able to be good at it and have people know you for it ... I just owe a lot to the sport."

His high school career will come to an end this weekend at the state tournament at University of Maryland's Cole Field House, but McGill hopes not before he wins four more matches for his second straight Class 2A-1A state title. He was the champ at 135 last year.

"Last year I won, but then after the hype was kind of over after a week or so, I started thinking about two in a row," he said. "The pressure's been on since then."

Actually, he's faced similar pressures since his high school career began. As he said, "A couple of mistakes here and there," are why he's only in the running to become a four-time state placewinner rather than a four-time state champ. He placed third at 103 as a freshman and sixth at 112 as a sophomore.

"Freshman year, I was leading 12-1 in the semis in the third period, but ... I got (pinned)," McGill said. "Sophomore year, I was up 3-2 in the semis with about five seconds left."

He ended up getting taken down at the buzzer for a 4-3 loss. He suffered a knee injury in the process and was done for the tourney.

"My whole sophomore year I was trying to make up for the mistake I made as a freshman, and then I made another big one and didn't get a chance to redeem himself," McGill said. "So last year was real sweet to come back and win."

When McGill says the key to states is "you got to wrestle one match at a time and be ready," he's not just using a clich. He has learned that from experience. Plus, being a returning state champ makes it even more difficult to look past anyone on the bracket.

"I've talked to a bunch of people and they say the second one is the toughest because everyone is looking for you," McGill said. "No matter whether the guy's a real tough wrestler or not, he's going to wrestle tough against you every single time."

Regardless of what happens this weekend, the future seems bright for the Williamsport star. He wants to compete at the NCAA Division I level and mentions such universities as Maryland, Virginia and James Madison as possible future homes.

"That stuff's real important right now, but I'm going to try to put it off until after states," McGill said. "I need to focus on states."

The rest of the best


McGill will be joined at states by teammates Earl Neville (103) and Todd Judd (130) and seven other Washington County athletes - Boonsboro's Bret Nalley (125); North Hagerstown's Jon Breehl (152), Dean Staley (171) and Andrew Brigham (275); and Smithsburg's Derick Quillen (140), Jeff Sprecher (160) and Mike Rinebolt (215).

Rinebolt took fifth at 215 and Sprecher sixth at 160 last season.

The area's other 2A-1A competitors are: Brunswick's Terry Bartholomew (119); Catoctin's Andy Kokoski (130); Middletown's Tyler Strube (103), Ryan Tice (125), Leif Huber (145) and Andrew Presnell (275); Tuscarora's Andrew Hyrkas (119); and Walkersville's Chad Cotterman (135) and Kyle Crapster (171).

Cotterman placed second at 135 and Presnell third at 275 last year.

In the 4A-3A brackets are Frederick's Phil Smith (171) and Thomas Johnson's Brendan Walmsley (215) and Joe Ellis (275).

ยท State tournament schedule: Friday - preliminary rounds, 2:30 p.m.; quarterfinals, 6; consolation preliminary rounds, 8. Saturday - consolation preliminary rounds, 9:30 a.m.; championship semifinals, 11 a.m.; consolation quarterfinals, 1 p.m.; consolation semifinals, 2:15; consolation finals, 4; championship finals, 6:30.

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