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County wrestlers try to find their place

Thirteen locals seek gold as state tournament opens

Thirteen locals seek gold as state tournament opens

March 07, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

Some Washington County wrestlers have made no bones about their intentions for the Maryland Class 2A-1A State Tournament this weekend.

Smithsburg junior Tyler Scott is a bit more reserved.

"I just want to place," Scott said. "Anywhere from 1 to 6."

Scott earned a berth in the state tournament after placing second at 189 pounds at the West region meet last week. He admitted he was satisfied, even after suffering a first-period pin in the championship finals to Walkersville's Jordan Walsh - the state champ at 171 last year.

Scott's modesty isn't tough to explain, as just over two months ago he wasn't even on the Leopards 'A' team. He was beat out at 160 pounds by teammate Alex Akers and eventually made his way up to 189, where he finally cracked the lineup.

"(Akers) challenged me and beat me," Scott said. "The more I thought about it, the more I thought I'd have a better chance if I moved up to 189."

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Scott made the move during the week of the Leopard Holiday Invitational, in which he placed fourth. Now, he has run up a 21-5 recorddespite often giving up around 20 pounds to each of his opponents - a trend that will continue today when the state tourney kicks off at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

Preliminary rounds begin this afternoon at 2:30, with the championship finals set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday - the top six finishers place.

"Tyler has come a long, long way and he's wrestled well lately," said Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich. "He's got a lot ahead of him."

The Leopards are taking three others to College Park - sophomore Monica Hovermale (103 pounds) and seniors James Reilley (135) and Brandon Knight (145). Hovermale is the first 2A-1A female to qualify for the state tournament, while Reilley is 15-0 since suffering his only loss of the season - Jan. 5 to North Hagerstown's Joe Breehl.

Knight qualified for his third state tournament, placing third at regions. He fell in overtime for the second straight week to eventual champion Jim Eichelberger, of North Hagerstown, in the championship semifinals.

Eichelberger, who is 3-0 against Knight this season, said the two are now rooting for each other to succeed at the state tournament. Though, that could certainly change if the two meet up for a fourth time this weekend.

"You never know," said North coach Greg Slick. "(2A-1A West) is a very tough region, year in and year out. The 145-pound class is tough throughout the state, so I'm sure there's going to be other good kids coming out. (Knight and Eichelberger) will end up on opposite sides of the bracket, so they wouldn't meet until the finals."

They could also square off in consolation bouts, should they go down in the early rounds. But the thought of losing doesn't even garner acknowledgment from Eichelberger, whose perfect 33-0 record is only a means to an end - a state championship.

"He's got some goals for himself," Slick said. "It's nice to see somebody putting in the time and hard work toward achieving something great."

Eichelberger did not place in two previous trips to the state tournament, and the only past placewinners are North's De'lon Agee (130) and Jake Turner (152). Agee is making his first trip to states since placing fifth at 103 as a sophomore in 2006, while Turner placed fifth at 135 last year.

Breehl, Dan Mazzei (171) and Demetrius Myers (215) round out the group of six Hubs to make the state tournament. Breehl is one of three country wrestlers to qualify from the 135-pound class, along with Reilley and Williamsport senior Jesse Duvall.

"I think we all made each other better," Reilley said. "We've wrestled some tough matches against each other throughout the year. It shows how good the weight class was this year."

Williamsport's Peter Smith (140) and Robbie Mies (160) round out the field of 13 county wrestlers still alive for state glory.

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