'A step closer to that ultimate goal'

March 02, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

In an overtime thriller last Saturday, North Hagerstown 160-pounder Josh Borland upset top-seeded Justin Hovermale of Smithsburg 7-5 in a must-win consolation semifinal at the Maryland Class 2A-1A West Wrestling Tournament.

With the victory, Borland earned a trip to the state championships, which begin Friday at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House, while ending Hovermale's season.

"He was happy that he beat Hovermale," North coach Greg Slick said. "But he was just as happy that Derek McCarty made it so they could work out together for another week.

"When you see kids bond like that, that's what I hope kids take away from wrestling."

The Hubs are the only team in Washington County still bonding. Of the six county athletes who still have postseason life, four are Hubs - Delon Agee at 103 pounds, Jim Eichelberger at 130, Borland at 160 and McCarty at 171.


Boonsboro's Bret Nalley (135) and Smithsburg's Brandon Knight (145) are the lone qualifiers from their schools. Neither South Hagerstown nor Williamsport advanced a wrestler.

"Just to be able to go down and be a part of the state tournament is a really good thing," Slick said. "It's just good to be able to see kids take a step closer to that ultimate goal - winning a state championship."

Nalley, a three-time state qualifier, is the county's best hope for a title. He's the only one of the six with state-tourney experience, and the only one with a region crown, which he won last Saturday.

"I'm pretty happy," Nalley said after edging Liberty's Steve Pedigo 2-1 in the region final. "It makes next weekend a lot easier, being a No. 1 seed against a No. 4. It gives you a lot better shot."

Nalley (33-2), who's No. 1 from the West, will face Glenelg's Dan Marsh (22-12), who's No. 4 from the South, in the first round. If he remains in the championship round, Nalley can't possibly face another region champ until the semifinals.

But his potential semifinal opponent is a tough one - South champ Ryan Buff (36-0). Buff defeated Nalley 17-8 in the state quarterfinals at 125 last year on his way to the state title.

As fourth-place West finishers, Agee, Knight and McCarty will immediately play underdog roles. In the first round: Agee (24-5) faces Pikesville's Ben Baker (31-2), the North champ; Knight (28-8) takes on Hereford's Josh Asper (32-2), the North champ; and McCarty (21-8) goes against Oakland Mills' Jeremy Askew (29-2), the South champ.

Also in the first round: Eichelberger (23-4), the West runner-up, faces Cambridge-South Dorchester's Joe Filegar (30-4), who's No. 3 from the East; and Borland (20-8), the West's No. 3, gets Joppatowne's Russell Harrell (29-3), the East runner-up.

There are 16 wrestlers in each weight class. The tournament is double-elimination.

"I tell my guys, 'You're one of the top 16 in the state. You can be satisfied with that or you can try to move yourself up,'" Slick said. "We've got a bunch of pictures up on our wall of kids who've won titles and placed at states. I'll walk over to the wall and say, 'I have this space saved just for you.' That's motivation."

The state tournament schedule: Friday - first round, 2:30 p.m.; championship quarterfinals, 6; consolation first round, 8. Saturday - consolation second round, 9:30 a.m.; championship semifinals, 11; consolation quarterfinals, 1 p.m.; consolation semifinals, 2:15; consolation finals, 4; championship finals, 6:30.

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