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North's Turner goes to the wall

March 03, 2007|by ANDREW MASON

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Jake Turner certainly won't be an underdog next wrestling season.

But the North Hagerstown sophomore still has one more day to enjoy the role in this one.

Turner took the most improbable route to today's 135-pound championship semifinals at the Maryland Class 2A-1A State Wrestling Tournament - perhaps the first of its kind.

"I don't know if it's ever happened before," longtime North coach Greg Slick said. "You'd have to do a lot of research."

First, Turner had to wrestle a pigtail match just to earn the eighth and final seed at last weekend's West region tournament, where he shook up the bracket by placing second.

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Then, he went 2-0 Friday in his first trip to states. He beat North Caroline's Ben Markey 6-1 in the first round and Oakland Mills' Peter Petteis 7-1 in the quarterfinals to secure at least a top-six placing - which, more importantly to Turner, secures a place on the Hubs' wall of fame.

"My dream came true," said Turner, who's 20-6 this season. "Ever since second grade when I started wrestling, I saw the guys up on the wall in the wrestling room. And my biggest dream was to be up there.

"Even if I won a big national tournament, I don't think that would overcome the feeling of being up on that wall."

Of the 10 Washington County wrestlers who qualified for states, Smithsburg senior Jeremy Harbaugh (189 pounds) is the only other one left in the title hunt.

Harbaugh (31-3), also making his state-tourney debut, hit a four-point move in the closing seconds of the opening round to defeat Rising Sun's Richard Gumpert, 7-3. In the quarterfinals, he pinned Eastern Tech's Ryan Andrzejewski in 1:11.

"I beat both of those guys earlier this season at tournaments," Harbaugh said. "But I knew both would be tough because, obviously, it's states."

He'll face Stephen Decatur's Danny Miller (33-6) for the first time in the semifinals today.

"I don't have a game plan yet. I just need to come in and wrestle like I have all season," Harbaugh said. "Everybody left is good. It's going to be close from here out.

"I came in with the goal to place. I met that goal, and now everything else is a bonus from here."

Turner will next face Beall's Stephen Whetstone, the West region's third-place finisher, whom Turner did not face last weekend. Whetstone (30-4) scored the biggest upset of the tourney Friday, defeating three-time state champion Vince Taweel of Hammond in the quarterfinals.

"(Whetstone) is really strong, but anyone can be beat," Turner said. "You just saw that with Taweel. It's just who wants it more.

"The pressure's off me now because I know I'm up on the wall. But that's not going to stop me from going hard to try to get the best place I can get."

Six county wrestlers still are alive in the consolation brackets.

North's Jim Eichelberger (140) and Smithsburg's James Reilley (130), Brandon Knight (145) and Justin Hovermale (152) won their first-round bouts before losing in the quarterfinals.

North's Josh Borland (171) and South Hagerstown's Chris Bell (285) won their first-round consolation bouts after falling in the opening round.

Williamsport's Earl Neville (119) and Smithsburg's Jon Gauss (135) each went 0-2 and was eliminated.

Today's schedule: Consolation second round, 9:30-11 a.m.; championship semifinals, 11 a.m.-1:15 p.m.; consolation quarterfinals, 1:15-2:15; consolation semifinals, 2:15-3:30; consolation finals, 4-6; championship finals, 6:30-9.

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