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Leopard still in search of historic spot

Monica Hovermale is one of seven county wrestlers set to compete in state tournament

Monica Hovermale is one of seven county wrestlers set to compete in state tournament

March 04, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

From winning three straight Washington County titles to twice qualifying for the Maryland Class 2A-1A state championships out of the West region, Monica Hovermale has done more times what no other female wrestler has ever done once.

But that doesn't earn the Smithsburg junior any special honors or awards.

Hovermale said her goal still is "just to be up on the wall in the wrestling room."

The only way to have her name included in such Leopards history is to place in the top six at the state tournament -- something no female has done in 2A-1A history.

"I want to be the first one," said Hovermale, who last year became the first female to win a 2A-1A state bout.

She finished 2-2 for the tourney at 103 pounds, one win shy of placing.

Hovermale, who's 27-7 this season, won't have it any easier Friday when the state tourney begins at the University of Maryland. As the West region's fourth-place finisher at 103, she faces North champ Kevin Dufour (29-2) of Owings Mills in the first round.

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Each weight class is comprised of the top four finishers from each of the state's four regions -- with the West's usually being the best.

"The bottom line is that the West is always the strongest, so everybody has a shot from out here," Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich said at last weekend's West championships. "You go through this thing, it's like a meat-grinder. Our top four have been better than the other three's top four on a regular basis."

Seven Washington County wrestlers qualified for the 2A-1A state tourney -- South Hagerstown's Ian Anderson (145); Williamsport's Kemper Baker (119), Joey Sutch (135) and Robbie Mies (215); and Smithsburg's Dean White (140), Tyler Scott (189) and Hovermale.

Mies (30-4), Scott (30-2) and Hovermale are the only returnees, while Mies is the only one who placed last year. He was fifth at 160.

Mies' goal this year: "Do the best I can and beat last year's," he said after winning a region title last weekend.

Scott, the county's other region champ, went 1-2 at 189 last year at states.

"Last year I was so disappointed not to place," Scott said. "This year, I want to make a run at it. I'd definitely like to try to win it."

White (20-13) might have the most difficult first-round assignment as he faces River Hill's Nathan White (43-1), the state runner-up at 130 last year. Two-time state champ Brutus Scheffel (37-4) of Southern Garrett also is in their half of the bracket.

If Baker (32-2) wins his first-round bout against Bohemia Manor's Bijan Banks (28-7), he'll likely meet River Hill's Cameron Kirby (39-7) in the quarterfinals. Kirby placed second at 103 last year.

Baker's two losses this year are to Brunswick's Tyler Bartholomew (32-4) and Glenelg's Zack Gerber (30-7), both of whom are on the other half of his bracket.

Some upsets and surprises are probably the only certainties this weekend.

"You get a call here and there, you never know," Dietrich said.

* Three members of the Washington County Wrestling Officials Association will be working at the tournament.

Rick Hare is serving as head official, Larry Steele as a referee and Walt Roberts as a table official.

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