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North underdog Turner has his day

February 24, 2007|by ANDREW MASON

Jake Turner?

Who's he?

"Coming in as the last seed, nobody knew who I was. I was a big underdog," said Turner, North Hagerstown's sophomore 135-pounder, after his quarterfinal bout at the Maryland Class 2A-1A West Wrestling Tournament on Friday night at North.

"My mentality was to show everybody that I am somebody, that I'm a force to be reckoned with if I wrestle up to my potential."

The eighth-seeded Turner turned in Friday's biggest upset, scoring two nearfall points at the buzzer to edge top-seeded Willy Sharkey of Winters Mill, 8-6.

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"I was really worried at the end because everybody told me he was real good on the bottom," Turner said. "But I got him to his back and got the 2-count."

Just to earn the right to wrestle Sharkey, Turner, who was sidelined part of the season with a knee injury, had to win a pigtail bout against Southern Garrett's Jordan Skipper earlier Friday.

"I'm relieved I got a pigtail match, because it was a good warmup," said Turner (18-5), who beat Skipper by major decision.

Turner is one of 16 Washington County wrestlers still alive in the tournament, and one of 11 still in contention for region titles.

The championship semifinals begin at 10 a.m. today and will be followed by the consolation semifinals at 12:15 p.m., the consolation finals at 2:30 and the championship finals at 4:30. The top four in each weight class advance to next weekend's state tournament.

Friday's other championship-quarterfinal winners included: Williamsport's Mark Mayo (112), Earl Neville (119) and Jimmy Fiorita (145); Smithsburg's James Reilley (130), Jon Gauss (135), Justin Hovermale (152) and Jeremy Harbaugh (189); North's Jim Eichelberger (140) and Josh Borland (171); and South Hagerstown's Chris Bell (285).

After blowing a 7-1 second-period lead, Neville escaped from Fort Hill's Justin Nichols with 15 seconds left to prevail 9-8 in one of the night's more exciting championship-round bouts.

"Whatever works," Williamsport coach Mike Rechtorovic said. "We'll take it any way we can get it at this tournament."

Neville, however, won't get his chance for redemption against North Hagerstown junior De'lon Agee, who edged Neville by a point in the finals of both the Hub Cup and county tournament. Agee, the No. 1 seed at 119 and the county's only returning state placewinner, failed to make weight Friday and is done for the season.

"It's very disappointing," North coach Greg Slick said. "I feel more disappointed for De'lon than I do as a coach. But it's embarrassing to have a No. 1 seed not make weight. It's embarrassing to have any wrestler not make weight.

"We'll just have to hope someone else carries the torch this year."

Hovermale, a senior, improved to 4-0 for his career in regional quarterfinal matches. This morning, he'll try to improve his semifinals record to 1-3 and earn his first state berth.

"This is my last year," said Hovermale, the No. 2 seed at 152. "Everybody expects a lot out of me, and I'm expecting a lot out of myself."

He's 29-0 this season with 27 pins. On the top half of his bracket is top-seeded Brandon Johnson of Middletown, who's 37-0.

One of them has to lose today.

"Hopefully it's not me," Hovermale said. "I'm just going to go out and wrestle as I have been."

Friday's consolation quarterfinal winners included: North's Dustin Smith (125) and Kyle Malcolm (285), Williamsport's Jesse Duvall (135) and Smithsburg's Brandon Knight (145) and Dave Ridenour (215).

Smithsburg freshman Monica Hovermale (103), who last week became the first girl to win a title at the county tourney, went 0-2 Friday. She finished her season with a 20-13 record.

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