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Devils get their due at Rebel Invitational

January 22, 2006|By KEVIN SPRADLIN

Seconds before each of his wrestlers took to the mat, Greencastle wrestling coach Fred Yelton grabbed them from behind at shoulder level and leaned back, raising them into the air.

To the untrained eye, the backwards bear hug could be one last effort to loosen up their upper torso muscles.

That physical act, though, means nothing.

Instead, what really counts are the last words Yelton wants each wrestler to hear before the whistle blows.

"It could be motivational, it could be strategy, it depends," Yelton said. "It might be, 'We need this win to win the match,' or, 'This kid's tough,'" Yelton said. "It's some kind of motivation."

Those last words paid off more often that not this weekend. The Blue Devils went 8-1 in the 10-team Rebel Invitational at South Hagerstown.

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Westminster won the tournament, going undefeated. Century was third at 7-2. James Buchanan (6-3) and Williamsport (5-4) rounded out the top five.

Four of Greencastle's wrestlers - Zach Witmer at 103 pounds, Conrad Myers at 152, Dale Nichols at 160 and Matt Copenhaver at 171 - went undefeated in their nine matches to finish first in their weight classes.

The Blue Devils had five champions - Ryan Christmas went 8-1 at 140 - and Anthony Derigo was second in the heavyweight division. Still, the plight of the Blue Devils always seems to return to Myers.

"He's a very good wrestler," Yelton said. "He's a very talented kid. There's a high level of quality and people want to see that, to be a part of that."

An affliction of missing weight in the postseason in each of the last two years has certainly helped Myers gain a following. High school wrestling fans can only wonder what he might achieve in the state tournament. Myers, meanwhile, will be watching something else.

"I still have a lot of learning," said Myers, who wants to improve in two main areas before this postseason. "I'll watch what I eat, and I'll work on my skills on top."

Myers, 21-0 this season, missed weight at districts two years ago by one-tenth of a pound. Last year, he didn't make it out of sectionals, missing his weight by a half-pound.

Myers didn't hog the spotlight, however. Wrestling at 135, Boonsboro senior Bret Nalley entered the tournament with a career record of 91-17. Nalley went 9-0, including five first-period falls, to record his 100th victory.

Four of Nalley's wins were by forfeit, including his final one against Greencastle that gave him No. 100.

"It wasn't all that great," Nalley said of the benchmark win.

Nalley said he takes the same approach in every match.

"You can't look at it as if you're going to lose, or you will" said Nalley. "You just have to go into the match thinking you're going to win."

Other area weight-class winners included South's Derick Beorstler at 112 (8-1), Alex Buterbaugh of James Buchanan at 125 (9-0) and teammate Dustin Pine at 215 (9-0) and Todd Judd of Williamsport at 130 (9-0).

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