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Hovermale rewriting history

December 30, 2007|By ANDREW MASON

SMITHSBURG - History usually isn't on Monica Hovermale's side. That's why the Smithsburg sophomore makes her own.

Hovermale - who became the first-ever female champion of the Washington County Wrestling Tournament last season - became the first girl to win a title in the 19-year history of the Leopard Holiday Invitational on Saturday night.

Hovermale pinned Rising Sun's Adam Heffelfinger in 1:34 in the championship finals at 103 pounds.

"It means a lot," she said. "I knew it was going to be hard."

"She's tough," Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich said. "She surprised a lot of these guys."

While Hovermale said she was just trying to follow in the footsteps of her older brother Justin, who won his third straight Leopard Invitational title as a senior last season, she left some fairly sizable imprints of her own.

She was the only female wrestler in Saturday's nine-team tournament.

"It's a little awkward, but I'm getting used to it," said Hovermale, who improved to 9-1 with seven pins this season. "I'm getting more comfortable as the matches go by."

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The host Leopards also got titles Saturday from seniors James Reilley (140 pounds), Brandon Knight (152) and David Ridenour (215).

Smithsburg finished third in the team standings with 220 1/2 points.

Rising Sun, the reigning Maryland Class 2A-1A state tournament champion, won with 260 1/2 points - 20 more than runner-up Milford Mill. South Hagerstown, the only other local team in the field, was sixth with 79 points.

"I'm happy with third," said Dietrich, whose Leopards are the three-time defending county champs. "Putting these things on at home is a lot of fun. And when the team does well, that's icing on the cake."

Reilley, the Leopard Invitational champ at 130 last year, has been performing at an even higher level this season. In a battle of returning state qualifiers, he blanked Springbrook's Joffrey Alcidor 9-0 in the finals Saturday to remain perfect at 10-0.

"I think this might be a good year for me - a state-title run hopefully," Reilley said.

Knight, a two-time runner-up at his home tourney, looked like he might have to settle for second again. He trailed Rising Sun's Kyle Barney 1-0 late in the third period in another matchup of returning state qualifiers.

Knight finally escaped to tie the bout at 1-1 with 25 seconds left in regulation.

"That gave me momentum, and he was getting a little tired," said Knight, who scored a takedown with 13 seconds left in overtime to prevail, 3-1.

"I definitely wanted to win this at least once, it being our tournament and having four shots," he said.

Ridenour, also a runner-up last year, took an 8-3 lead into the third period before pinning Milford Mill's Patrick Sweet in 4:52 in the finals.

Sweet scored the first takedown for an early 2-0 lead.

"As soon as that happened, I knew I had to step up my game," said Ridenour, who took control with two takedowns and a nearfall in the second period. "He gassed midway through the second period. Our team's done a lot of conditioning, and that's what helped me."

Smithsburg also got a runner-up finish from Dean White at 135 and a third-place finish from Daniel Rinebolt at 171.

Dustin Rowland placed third at 275 for South.

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