Tickets to 'the big show' on the line at regionals

February 24, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

Of the 19 Washington County wrestlers set to compete at this weekend's Maryland Class 2A-1A West region tournament at Francis Scott Key, Smithsburg junior Justin Hovermale is the lone No. 1 seed.

The top four in each weight class advance to next weekend's state championships at the University of Maryland, and Hovermale just hopes he's one of them at 160 pounds.

"For once in my high school career, I'd like to place high enough to go to the big show," said Hovermale, a three-time region qualifier still looking for his first ticket to states. "I'm tired of falling short. I'm training harder than ever. I want to make a statement for myself and get to states."


The region tournament begins today and concludes Saturday.

Three county athletes have No. 2 seeds - North Hagerstown's Delon Agee (103), Boonsboro's Bret Nalley (135) and Smithsburg's Brandon Knight (145).

Nalley, a two-time state qualifier who won his fourth county title last Saturday, is aiming for his first region crown. To win it, the senior likely will have to beat top-seeded Daniel Carr of Southern Garrett in the finals. Carr defeated Nalley in the region semifinals at 125 last year.

"I was beating him and then he caught me in a roll," Nalley said. "Usually my second time wrestling people goes a lot better. You've got a better feel for things."

Even though Hovermale is the top seed, he, too, will need a better feel to get by No. 2 seed Jordan Walsh in their potential rematch. The Walkersville sophomore pinned Hovermale earlier this season.

North is sending a county-high seven wrestlers to FSK this weekend. Joining Agee are Hubs Joe Breehl (No. 7 at 112), Jim Eichelberger (No. 3 at 130), Josh Borland (No. 6 at 160), Joey Lamp (No. 4 at 189), Michael Cline (No. 7 at 215) and Tyler Hartman (No. 7 at 275).

Williamsport has the most state-tourney experience. Todd Judd (No. 8 at 130) was a state qualifier at 130 last season, and Rob Shawley (No. 3 at 275), who was sidelined for most of last season with an injury, wrestled at states two years ago at 275. Also competing this weekend for the Wildcats are Jesse Duvall (No. 4 at 135) and Codi Trumpower (No. 8 at 140).

Joining Hovermale and Knight for the Leopards are James Reilley (No. 6 at 119) and Alex Akers (No. 7 at 152).

Nalley is joined by teammates Jon Wood (No. 5 at 140) and Richard Riggs (No. 8 at 152) for the Warriors.

Jeremy Gross (No. 8 at 215) is South Hagerstown's lone competitor.

Today's schedule is: Preliminaries at 5 p.m.; championship quarterfinals at 5:30; and consolation quarterfinals at 8.

Saturday's schedule is: Championship semifinals at 11 a.m.; consolation semifinals at 1 p.m.; third- and fifth-place bouts at 3; and championship finals at 5.

As always, the consolation semifinals carry the most weight as those winners lock up the final two spots for states.

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