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Lady's day - Smithsburg's Hovermale breaks through at states

March 08, 2008|By ANDREW MASON

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Ladies first.

That's how it goes for Monica Hovermale, who continues to blaze trails in the male-dominated sport of wrestling.

The Smithsburg sophomore defeated Evan Peck of Marriotts Ridge 18-10 in a preliminary 103-pound bout Friday afternoon, becoming the first girl in the history of the Maryland Class 2A-1A state tournament to win a bout.

"It's exciting," said Hovermale, who last year became the first girl to win a Washington County title, and who last week became the first girl to advance out of the perennially powerful 2A-1A West region by placing third. "It's awesome to be here and everything, but I want to place."

Places go to the top six at each weight.

The best Hovermale (25-4) can do today is place third after getting pinned by Owings Mills' Avi Friedman (32-0) in the quarterfinals Friday night.

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"Last week when I lost (in the first round at regionals), I came back the next day and had three straight pins," she said. "I'm hoping to do that again.

"But it will be tough. Everyone here is good. I'll just be happy if I place."

Helen Maroulis of Magruder became the first girl to place at the Maryland state tournament when she took fifth at 112 in Class 4A-3A in 2006. Nicole Woody of Arundel placed second at 103 in 4A-3A last year.

Hovermale is just the second girl to compete in 2A-1A. The first, Jade Hendricks of Western Tech, went 0-2 in 2005.

Of the 13 Washington Country wrestlers who qualified for the 2A-1A championships, 12 are still alive, including five in the championship round.

North Hagerstown's De'lon Agee (130 pounds), Jim Eichelberger (145) and Dan Mazzei (171), Smithsburg's James Reilley (135) and Williamsport's Robbie Mies (160) each went 2-0 Friday to advance to today's semifinals and secure a top-six finish.

Eichelberger (35-0) pinned Josh Tilles of Marriotts Ridge in 1:49 in the quarterfinals to maintain his status as the Tri-State's lone unbeaten wrestler this season.

"It takes a lot of pressure off once you win the first two and know you've placed," said Eichelberger, who failed to place in his previous two trips to states. "Now I'm just going to wrestle my best and hopefully make it to the state finals and win. A state title, that's the ultimate goal."

The title seems to be the only thing on Reilley's mind.

The Smithsburg senior treated his milestone 100th career victory - a 7-0 decision over Clarksburg's Chris Williamson in the quarterfinals Friday - as just a means to the end.

"This is it," said Reilley (28-1), who went 1-2 last year at states at 130. "I feel great, I feel ready, I'm pumped. I've been training forever for this."

Once again, Agee (27-6) saved his best wrestling for College Park. Exactly as he did two years ago when he placed fifth at 103, Agee entered as the West region's fourth seed and immediately upset a region champ on his way to a 2-0 start.

"It's like deja vu," said Agee, who beat Surrattsville's previously undefeated Joseph Rollins, the South champ, 10-5 Friday before routing Kent Island's Lajuan Pack 16-2 in the quarterfinals. "This whole week I worked hard, just thinking, 'I have to win the first two and I'm in.'"

Mazzei (32-3) - who placed fifth at 171 at the Pennsylvania Independent Schools state tourney last year as a freshman at Mercersburg Academy - pinned Western Tech's Orion Stephens in 3:44 in the quarterfinals Friday.

"I just wanted to get past that match so I could place top six," Mazzei said. "Now I'm in the semifinals, and I'm going in to win."

Mies' debut at the state tourney couldn't have gone much better as he advanced with a pair of pins. Next up for the Williamsport junior is Owings Mills' Tony Mack (36-0), the state champ at 145 last year.

"I'm just going to do my best," said Mies (36-5). "It's working so far."

Smithsburg's Brandon Knight, one of seven county wrestlers still alive in the consolation brackets, had the toughest matchup Friday. Knight (27-6) fell 7-3 in the quarterfinals to Rising Sun's Matt Jackson, a two-time state champ.

If Eichelberger reaches the finals, Jackson likely will be the one there to greet him.

"I think I can beat him," Eichelberger said.

North's Joe Breehl (135), Jake Turner (152) and Demetrius Myers (215), Williamsport's Peter Smith (140) and Smithsburg's Tyler Scott (189) each went 1-1 Friday. Williamsport's Jesse Duvall (135) is done after going 0-2.

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