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Wrestling-Nally checks 2A-1A title off wrestling agenda

February 26, 2006|By ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

UNION BRIDGE, Md. -

Reach 100 career victories. Check.

Become a four-time Washington County champion. Check.

Win a region title for the first time. Check.

Boonsboro senior Bret Nalley has only one goal left unchecked on his to-do list for his final high school wrestling season.

"Now I want to place at states," said Nalley after winning the 135-pound title at the Maryland Class 2A-1A West championships Saturday at Francis Scott Key. "I'd like at least top three. That'd be real nice."

Nalley, who's 33-2 this season and 112-17 for his career, was one of only six county athletes who qualified for next weekend's state tournament at the University of Maryland. The top four finishers in each eight-man weight bracket earned berths.

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Nalley edged Liberty's Steve Pedigo 2-1 in the finals and Fort Hill's Shawn Bennett 2-0 in the semifinals as he successfully made a first-period takedown stand up in each of his final two bouts.

"A takedown wins matches," Nalley said. "All that matters now is winning."

Nalley, a three-time state qualifier, placed fifth in the region at 103 as a freshman, third at 112 as a sophomore and third at 125 last year.

"It's your senior year, so you have to go for it all," he said. "That's all there is to it."

Nalley was the county's lone champion Saturday.

"'Come on, Boonsboro. You've got to carry the county flag. Keep the hopes alive.' That's what the Williamsport coach (Mike Rechtorovic) said to me once the other county guys started to get knocked off," Nalley said.

The county's other state qualifiers are Smithsburg's Brandon Knight (fourth at 145) and the North Hagerstown foursome of Jim Eichelberger (second at 130), Josh Borland (third at 160), Delon Agee (fourth at 103) and Derek McCarty (fourth at 171).

"It's really exciting," North coach Greg Slick said. "At the end of the year, just to be able to send anyone down to states you have to call a successful season. There's not a wrestler in high school who doesn't dream of going to states."

In the finals, Eichelberger (23-4), a sophomore, fell 11-1 to Catoctin senior Andy Kokoski (26-6).

"He was just so strong," Eichelberger said. "I was out-muscled."

But compared to last season, when he didn't even have a winning record, this season has been a dream for Eichelberger.

"I'm definitely happy, and I'm looking forward to states," he said. "I worked hard over the summer. It's all about dedication."

Borland's run to third place was one of a vengeance. In the win-or-stay-home consolation semifinals, he upset Smithsburg's Justin Hovermale - the No. 1 seed at 160 - 7-5, scoring the winning takedown with about 10 seconds left in overtime.

"I was just thinking, 'It's going to overtime again,'" said Borland, who lost 9-7 in overtime to Hovermale in the county finals last weekend. "But I just kept thinking how badly I wanted to go to states. It was a really intense match."

In the consolation finals, he hit a pair of lateral drops for five points each in a 12-5 decision over Southern Garrett's Jeremy Gregory, who beat Borland 3-2 in the championship quarterfinals Friday night.

"I was still pumped up from the Hovermale match," Borland said.

Other placewinners included: Boonsboro's Jon Wood (sixth at 140), North's Joe Breehl (sixth at 112), Smithsburg's Alex Akers (fifth at 152) and Hovermale (fifth at 160) and Williamsport's Jesse Duvall (sixth at 135) and Rob Shawley (fifth at 275).

Walkersville won the team title with 138 points. North was the top county team, finishing ninth with 57.

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