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Washington County wrestling preview

Leopards put on spot as team to beat

Leopards put on spot as team to beat

December 03, 2008|By ANDREW MASON

Few people hold their cards closer to their chests than wrestling coaches in the preseason.

It seems to be easy for everyone to say Smithsburg is the team to beat in Washington County this wrestling season - everyone except for Leopards coach Joe Dietrich.

"Yeah, whatever," Dietrich said. "I don't know."

But even he has to admit that his team looks pretty good - at least on paper.

The Leopards return 10 of their 14 starters - including four of their five county champs - from last season's team that went 9-4 in dual meets and finished a close second to North Hagerstown at the county tournament.

"We have some good kids coming back," Dietrich said. "Now we just have to make sure they all go in different slots. That's the game. There are 14 weight classes."

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Smithsburg got county titles last season from Monica Hovermale at 103 pounds, Nick Dilandro at 119, James Reilley at 135, Alex Akers at 160 and Tyler Scott at 189. All but Reilley, who graduated, are back, while Hovermale and Scott also are returning state qualifiers.

Hovermale, a junior, might be the county's most famous wrestler. After becoming the first female county champ as a freshman, she became the first girl in Maryland 2A-1A history to win a bout at states last season.

Dietrich said Hovermale will begin this season a weight up at 112, where the coach expects similar results.

"She's tough," he said. "We're going to do some experimenting there early to see if she wants to go down or stay up. I let kids make their own decisions."

Other key returnees for the Leopards are Dean White, who went 8-3 at 140 last season, Nieko Akers, who was 14-14 at 152, and Jeb Slick, who was 9-4 at 171.

Boonsboro

Winning dual meets is never an easy thing to do for the Warriors, who went 2-18 last season, forfeiting at several weight classes.

They have 19 wrestlers on the roster right now, four more than last winter.

"That's something to build on, which is the main thing," coach Brian Smoot said. "But we just don't have the numbers that other county teams have. We're still probably going to be forfeiting three or four weight classes. Hopefully as the season goes on, we can adjust and fill some of the spots. ... Some weight classes I have three or four kids there."

But he doesn't have anyone at 215 or 285.

"Hopefully I can pull somebody out of the school," he said.

Junior T.J. Boreni is only returnee who had a winning record last season, going 13-10 at 103. He'll be at 112 this season.

"It might be a little tough for us in the beginning," Smoot said. "The kids are working hard and learning quickly. We just have to wait until they get some matches under their belt."

North Hagerstown

Things couldn't have gone much better for the Hubs last season.

They went 15-6 in dual meets, were co-champions of the MVAL Piedmont Conference and champions of the county tournament. They had eight regional qualifiers, six 2A-1A state qualifiers and four state placewinners.

But all four of those state placewinners are gone. De'lon Agee (130), Joe Breehl (135) and Jim Eichelberger (145) graduated, while Dan Mazzei (171) is now at Waynesboro.

"We've been pretty decimated by graduation, and we lost a couple of other kids," longtime coach Greg Slick said. "There are a lot of question marks at a lot of weight classes.

"It's going to be a tough December, and I'm not going to make any predictions. We're just going to see how much progress we can make."

The Hubs' two returning state qualifiers - and county champs - are seniors Jake Turner (152) and Demetrius Myers (215).

Turner placed fifth in the state at 135 as a sophomore, but went 1-2 at states last year at 152.

"He's been lifting and is a much stronger 152-pound Jake right now," Slick said.

Myers was impressive as a first-year wrestler last season, going 20-10 and advancing to the consolation quarterfinals at states.

"He's a very good athlete," Slick said. "He'll probably drop to 189 this year. I may move him up and down. I think he's going to have a very good year."

The other key returnee is Adrian Rivas, a regional qualifier at 125 last year.

Saint James

First-year Saints coach Chris Milmoe likes what he sees so far.

"The first thing that jumped out at me is how many kids wrestle. We have 50 kids," said Milmoe, who previously coached in Connecticut. "One of the most important things in wrestling is filling your lineup, and we're going to be able to do that no problem.

"We're traditionally very strong in the Mid Atlantic Conference, and we should be right up there again."

The Saints return two wrestlers who had winning records on last season's 16-11 team - seniors Taylor Young (17-12 at 285) and Matt Whitcraft (9-8 at 215). The only other senior is Patrick Knable (130).

"Kids are going to have to learn quickly," Milmoe said. "Experience in wrestling is a huge thing. We're going to be learning on the go."

South Hagerstown

The Rebels have struggled to win matches in recent years, and coach Ralph Stottlemyer said this season might not be much different.

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