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Wrestlers try to be best in West

February 26, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

Wrestlers need to be tough to survive in the wild West.

"This is the toughest 2A-1A region by far," Williamsport coach Mike Rechtorovic said. "Southern Garrett and Winters Mill might be the toughest 2A-1A teams in the state, period. It's just insanely tough, especially this year.

"You come out of our region, even as a 4, you have a shot to place in the state."

Twenty-nine Washington County wrestlers are set to take their best shots at the Maryland Class 2A-1A West Championships today and Saturday at Catoctin. The top four in each eight-man weight bracket advance to next weekend's state tournament.

County champion Williamsport has a county-high nine regional qualifiers, including two No. 1 seeds -- Kemper Baker at 119 and Robbie Mies at 215.

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"It's nice to have that many guys to work with each other, especially at this time of the year," Rechtorovic said. "The goal is to get as many through, as many in the top four, as possible."

Baker finished a heartbreaking fifth at 112 last year.

"It was hard, pretty crushing, missing it by one," Baker said. "I've just used it as fuel for this year."

At 29-1, Baker has the top winning percentage (.967) in the Tri-State area this season.

Mies, who placed third in the region and fifth in the state at 160 last year, is 27-4. One of his four losses was a 3-2 setback against Southern Garrett's Ryan Fitzwater, who is seeded second this weekend.

"(Mies) just has to take care of his business," Rechtorovic said. "If they end up in the finals, (Mies) will be excited to wrestle him. But there are other good guys in the bracket he has to worry about."

Boonsboro, Smithsburg and North Hagerstown each advanced six, while South Hagerstown qualified two.

The Leopards' Tyler Scott (189) is the county's only other No. 1 seed. Scott (27-2) was the runner-up at 189 last year.

Smithsburg's Monica Hovermale (25-5) is seeded second at 103. She finished third at that weight last year.

This season, she's beaten third-seeded Jon Sweeney of Catoctin, but lost to top-seeded Steve Smith of Francis Scott Key. South Carroll's Chris Wampler, the defending champ, is seeded fourth.

"My goal is to win," Hovermale said, "or place higher than I did last year."

No. 3 seeds include Williamsport's Joey Sutch (28-4) at 135 and North's Michael Leonard (25-5) at 145.

No. 4 seeds include North's Kevin Mothershed (22-9) at 140 and Devin Martinez (22-8) at 160, South's Ian Anderson (26-4) at 145, Smithsburg's Jeb Slick (20-9) at 171 and Williamsport's Matt Cody (23-4) at 285.

Preliminary bouts begin at 5 p.m. today. The championship quarterfinals follow at 5:30.

Saturday begins with the championship semifinals at 10 a.m. The consolation quarterfinals are at noon, the consolation semifinals at 1:30, the consolation finals at 4 and the championship finals at 6:30.

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