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North's Eichelberger hopes for perfect ending to season

February 29, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

Up until now, a defeat for North Hagerstown senior Jim Eichelberger could be treated as a learning experience - something to build on.

Beginning today, losing could be an unaffordable setback.

Eichelberger enters the Maryland Class 2A-1A West Wrestling Tournament with a 30-0 season record. Maintaining that perfect mark, though not necessarily the top priority, is the only way to satisfy his big-picture goals.

"I'm proud of it, but I haven't done anything yet," said Eichelberger, the No. 2 seed in the 145-pound weight class. "I want to win regions. ... And I want to win states."

The region tournament begins today at 5 p.m. and concludes Saturday at Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg, Md. The top four in each weight class qualify for next week's state tournament at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

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To achieve his goals, Eichelberger will need to remain undefeated.

"I've never been in the position to be undefeated at anything, so I don't really know a lot to say," Hubs coach Greg Slick said. "I called (former Hubs state champion) Seth Staley and asked him to talk to Jimmy, because he's an athlete who's been in that situation before."

Eichelberger's toughest test came last weekend at the Washington County Championships as he needed overtime to pin Smithsburg's Brandon Knight and win his third county title. He might see the Leopards senior again in Frostburg - Knight is the No. 3 seed.

"If it happens it's going to be a tough match," said Leopards coach Joe Dietrich, whose team will send seven wrestlers to regionals.

Both Knight and Eichelberger are two-time state qualifiers, but neither has won a region title. In fact, no county wrestler making the trip has won a region title, and the only other returning state qualifiers are North's Jake Turner (No. 1 seed at 152) and Smithsburg's James Reilley (No. 1 at 135). North's De'lon Agee was a state placewinner in 2006 but did not make weight at the region tournament last year.

Agee, the No. 3 seed at 130, is among eight region qualifiers for the Hubs. The others include Adrian Rivas (No. 8 at 125), Joe Breehl (No. 3 at 135), Gordon Lansdowne (No. 8 at 140), Dan Mazzei (No. 2 at 171) and Demetrius Myers (No. 5 at 215).

"There are usually a lot of unknowns going into regionals, but we've wrestled against a lot of the teams that will be there. So there won't be as many unknowns," Slick said. "Usually the top two seeds are head and shoulders above everybody else."

Knight and Reilley are among the Smithsburg favorites to return to states and they will be joined in Frostburg by Monica Hovermale (No. 1 at 103), Nick Dilandro (No. 7 at 119), Alex Akers (No. 6 at 160), Tyler Scott (No. 3 at 189) and David Ridenour (No. 2 at 215).

Williamsport's nine region qualifiers are tops in the county - Kemper Baker (No. 4 at 112), Justin Iseminger (No. 7 at 125), Brandon Morales (No. 8 at 130), Jesse Duvall (No. 5 at 135), Peter Smith (No. 9 at 140), Robbie Mies (No. 3 at 160), Damian Coates (No. 8 at 171), Drew Williams (No. 2 at 189) and Matt Cody (No. 8 at 285).

"It's going to be tough. We're going to need some guys to wrestle better than they have," said Wildcats coach Mike Rechtorovic. "Hopefully we will and we'll get some through to states."

Heavyweight Dustin Rowland is the lone qualifier for South Hagerstown thanks to a win against Cody in the finals of the county tournament. But as the ninth seed, he will see Cody in a pigtail bout for the right to face the top seed.

Boonsboro did not qualify any wrestlers. Dustin Williams (125 pounds) and Chris Riggs (171) are alternates, but would only see action if a higher seed could not compete.

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