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Preps Notebook

Blair mat project: Mercersburg hunts for answers

Blair mat project: Mercersburg hunts for answers

February 09, 2007|by ANDREW MASON

Mercersburg Academy wrestling coach Rick Hendrickson had hoped to make the Blue Storm's home tri-meet this Saturday with Blair Academy and Lawrenceville a quad by adding an area team to the Mid-Atlantic Prep League mix.

"I sent a mass e-mail out, but I had no takers," Hendrickson said. "No one showed any interest in wanting to come wrestle Blair."

Or perhaps it's more like no interest in getting crushed by Blair, the perennial national power from New Jersey currently ranked second in the U.S.

But Hendrickson welcomes the opportunity, even though Mercersburg is 0-12 all-time against Blair.

"I tell our guys that it's not everybody who gets the opportunity to wrestle the best team in the country. They're the gold standard. We get to test ourselves against the best," Hendrickson said. "We look at it as a challenge and an honor. They know they're on a different level, but they know that we'll put the singlets on and wrestle. We want them to respect us."

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Blair has six wrestlers ranked in the top five nationally in their weight classes - at 112, 130, 135, 140, 152 and 215.

That notoriety also gives their opponents the chance to steal some of the spotlight.

"You want to be recruited? You want go get noticed?" Hendrickson said he tells his team. "You beat the Blair kid - or you wrestle him very well."

Blair blanked Mercersburg 72-0 last year.

Junior Adam Barnette, who's 27-0 at 285 this season and 100-22 for his career, might be the Blue Storm's best bet to score some points Saturday.

"Adam is flying under a lot of people's radar. He's underrated," Hendrickson said. "He did pretty well last year (finishing fourth at states), but the good kids figured out a way to beat him at the end of the season.

"He's got more in his arsenal this year, and he's using it. What he needs is a good match."

Blair is coming off a 29-27 loss last Saturday to St. Edward of Ohio, the nation's No. 1 team. Blair began that match with a 133-match winning streak, spanning 6 1/2 years.

The first match in this Saturday's tri-meet is Mercersburg vs. Blair.

"We want to get them off the bus," Hendrickson said, laughing. "We've got them on the ropes. They're coming off a loss."

Applemen host tuneup

Saturday's Musselman Invitational serves as a final tuneup for the postseason.

Included in this year's 11-team field - comprised of schools from West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania - are Hedgesville, Jefferson, Martinsburg and the host Applemen.

"What's really attractive to a lot of coaches is that there aren't a lot of bracketed tournaments this late in the season," Musselman coach Mark Cagle said. "And it's one day. They can come in and get out.

"It's a good preparatory tournament. It helps kids physically and mentally prepare for regionals and districts."

Cagle said his Applemen - who are ranked seventh in West Virginia Class AAA and fresh off a team title at the Potomac Valley Conference championships - most likely will go without Jared Weatherholtz (189) this weekend. Weatherholtz, one of Musselman's six state-ranked wrestlers, is nursing a sore shoulder.

"We're not concerned about winning our own tournament. We're just trying to get kids ready for states," Cagle said. "We made the big push for PVC team-wise, and everything from here is about the individual.

"I told them, 'You take care of yourself and do what you need to do to get on the podium at states.'"

Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. The finals are expected to begin around 6 p.m.

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