North Hagerstown set to host wild, wild West

February 23, 2007|by ANDREW MASON

Twenty-four Washington County high school wrestlers have postseason life.

But that number will quickly shrink this weekend at the Maryland Class 2A-1A West Tournament at North Hagerstown, where only the fittest of the fit will survive.

The region tournament begins today with preliminary bouts at 5 p.m. and concludes with the championship finals at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to next weekend's state tournament at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

"Oh my goodness, this region is very competitive," North Hagerstown coach Greg Slick said. "From the very first round, there's going to be some hard, hard wrestling.


"A lot of coaches say that if you can survive this region, your chances of going down to Cole Field House and doing something special are pretty good."

North junior De'lon Agee, the No. 1 seed at 119 pounds, is the perfect example of that theory. Last year, he finished fourth in the region at 103 and then placed fifth at states.

"Agee beat two region champs at states last year," Slick said. "The thing that's kind of sad, though, is that there are good kids from this region who do not advance."

Smithsburg, which won its third straight county tournament title last weekend, placed a county-high nine wrestlers on the region brackets - Monica Hovermale (No. 7 at 103), James Reilley (No. 3 at 130), Jon Gauss (No. 5 at 135), Brandon Knight (No. 3 at 145), Justin Hovermale (No. 2 at 152), Alex Akers (No. 8 at 160), Dan Rinebolt (No. 8 at 171), Jeremy Harbaugh (No. 3 at 189) and Dave Ridenour (No. 5 at 215).

Knight was the Leopards' only state qualifier last season.

Perhaps no wrestler in the tournament has as much to prove as Justin Hovermale, who is 28-0 this season with 26 pins. He has more than 100 career wins, but has never qualified for states. Last year, he was the top seed at 160, but finished fifth.

"He's been pretty aggressive all year," Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich said. "He knows this is his last shot."

The top seed at 152 is Middletown's Brandon Johnson, who's also unbeaten this season at 36-0.

North Hagerstown and Williamsport will each have six wrestlers competing. Joining Agee for the Hubs are Dustin Smith (No. 9 at 125), Jake Turner (No. 8 at 135), Jim Eichelberger (No. 2 at 140), Josh Borland (No. 3 at 171) and Kyle Malcolm (No. 8 at 285). Eichelberger and Borland are returning state qualifiers.

Jimmy Fiorita is the top seed at 145 for Williamsport, which also has Mark Mayo (No. 7 at 112), Earl Neville (No. 6 at 119), Peter Smith (No. 7 at 130), Jesse Duvall (No. 4 at 135) and Codi Trumpower (No. 9 at 160).

Derick Boerstler (No. 5 a 125) and Chris Bell (No. 5 at 285) will represent South Hagerstown, while Chris Riggs (No. 7 at 171) will represent Boonsboro.

"This is the time of the year where survival is the key," Slick said.

PIAA District 3

Only four area wrestlers qualified for this weekend's PIAA District 3 championships at Hersheypark Arena.

Chambersburg's Jimmy Hughes (112) and Joey Wilmot (152) and Waynesboro's Matt Nel (103) are in the Class AAA tourney, while James Buchanan's Derek Straley (171) is in Class AA.

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