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North wrestlers chase tourney titles in their gym

January 12, 2007|by ANDREW MASON

North Hagerstown juniors Delon Agee and Jim Eichelberger both agree: When the lights go dim in their gym this Saturday evening, the center mat is where they want to be.

"You come out in the spotlight," Eichelberger said. "Everyone's watching you, and you just have to get it done."

Neither Eichelberger nor any of his teammates, however, know this from experience. None of this year's Hubs has ever wrestled in the championship finals of the Hub Cup - Washington County's largest and most prestigious annual tournament.

In fact, North hasn't won a title at its tourney since 2003, when Mike Wagner captured the 125-pound weight class.

With Agee (119), Eichelberger (140) and senior Josh Borland (171) - who each placed third at the Hub Cup last year and went on to qualify for the Maryland 2A-1A state tourney - the Hubs seem poised to end the title drought.

"Maybe this year we will," said Agee, who placed fifth in the state at 103 last year. "I haven't lost a match (at home) this season."

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"I think we'll all three go to the championships," Eichelberger said. "We work our (butts) off to get ready for this. It's pretty big. It's the hardest tournament besides states, definitely.

"I just want to win it."

South Hagerstown, Williamsport and Greencastle-Antrim are the other area schools in the 18-team field, which includes Maryland 4A-3A powers Northwest, Quince Orchard, Paint Branch, Magruder and defending champ Damascus.

"You can bring a bunch of patsies in and win your own tournament, but that really doesn't do you any good," longtime North coach Greg Slick said. "You want to bring in good competition to challenge the kids you have on your team.

"If you wrestle that competition early in the season, it prepares you for the end of the season."

This year's Hub Cup is the 20th annual edition of the tournament, which makes it especially significant for Slick.

"Any time you reach one of those milestones, it's a neat thing," Slick said. "I don't think No. 20 is any kind of big deal to most of these guys (the current team). But to a lot of the folks who I've coached who come back year after year and help work the tournament, it's kind of significant for them.

"It's not a wrestling homecoming, but it sort of is. That's one of the things that's significant with me - so many kids who have graduated who come back and make the tournament happen."

Being introduced in the partially lit gym before the championship finals is every North wrestler's dream.

"We try not to put a lot of pressure on the guys and hype the thing up too much, but we end up talking about it so much," Slick said. "A lot of these guys, like Eichelberger and Agee, get on the Web sites and find out who's ranked and who's coming here that placed in the state tournament last year."

Notes: The last Washington County wrestler to win a Hub Cup title was Williamsport's Mike McGill in 2005. ... In this week's West Virginia team rankings, Musselman is seventh and Jefferson is ninth in Class AAA, while Berkeley Springs is tied for ninth in AA-A. ... Boonsboro freshman T.J. Boreni, who has to be the lightest prep wrestler in the Tri-State at 82 pounds, won his first varsity match Wednesday, scoring a third-period pin against Allegany.

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