Leopards prove 'em all wrong

February 19, 2006|By ANDREW MASON

Many people assumed the 16th annual Washington County Public Schools Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at South Hagerstown was going to be another showdown between MVAL Antietam co-champions North Hagerstown and Williamsport for the team title.

"We just went out there and proved them wrong," said Smithsburg junior Justin Hovermale.

Hovermale was one of three weight-class champs for the Leopards, who went 1-3 against the other four county teams in dual meets this season, but beat them all on Saturday. Smithsburg scored 176 points, seven more than runner-up North, to win its second straight county title and fifth overall.

"It's awesome," Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich said. "Thirteen out of our 14 guys placed in the top three. That's a great accomplishment. ... We just gradually got better this season."


The Leopards sent eight wrestlers to the finals and got titles from James Reilley (119 pounds), Brandon Knight (145) and Hovermale (160).

Hovermale scored a takedown with 19 seconds left in overtime to edge North's Josh Borland 9-7, securing his team's ownership of the Clyde Downs Trophy for another year.

"It was a great match. The whole place was going crazy," Hovermale said. "I was worried. I knew that North was our competition and that I had to get the job done."

Knight also prevailed in overtime, edging Williamsport's Jimmy Fiorita 10-8 in the most controversial match of the evening. Knight's only takedown in the bout was the winning one with 20 seconds left in OT. Half of his eight points in regulation came from escapes and the other four came from Fiorita's penalties for stalling.

Trailing 8-6 in the final seconds of the third period, Knight pulled even with Fiorita when the Williamsport junior was called for stalling for the fourth time in the bout - a two-point violation, following his one warning and a pair of one-point violations.

"What can you do?" Knight said. "I was fortunate to get the stalling calls when I did. And then I just had to pull it out at the end."

Things only got worse for Fiorita, who was hit with a flagrant misconduct call for using profanity immediately after the bout and disqualified from the tourney. That cost Williamsport 19 team points - three for the call on top of the 16 Fiorita had previously earned for his team. And it cost Fiorita, who began the day with a 25-8 record, the rest of his season.

Williamsport finished fourth with 113 points, nine points behind Boonsboro.

The Warriors had more than one county champ for the first time, getting titles from Bret Nalley (135) and Jon Wood (140).

Nalley pinned Williamsport's Jesse Duvall in 1:11 to become only the sixth four-time county champ.

"It's pretty sweet. It's one of the goals I had this season," Nalley said. "I have a few more goals left to go. I want to win regionals and place at states."

The Maryland Class 2A-1A West region championships are next weekend at Francis Scott Key. The seedings for the region will be determined today. Every county champ is guaranteed a berth.

There were no major upsets Saturday as all 14 No. 1 seeds won their weight classes.

The Hubs led the way with six champs - Delon Agee (103), Joe Breehl (112), Jim Eichelberger (130), Derek McCarty (171), Joey Lamp (189) and Michael Cline (215).

Eichelberger won arguably the toughest weight class. In the finals, he was a 6-1 winner over Smithsburg's Logan Miss, last year's champ at 119. In the semifinals, Miss pinned Williamsport's Todd Judd, the defending champ at 130.

Peter Smith (125) and Rob Shawley (275) won titles for Williamsport.

Jake Hockensmith (152) was the lone champ for the host Rebels, pinning Smithsburg's Alex Akers in 33 seconds for the quickest fall of the finals.

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