Experience is Wildcats' strong suit

December 01, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

Note: The weight classes given for individual wrestlers in this story are their weight classes from the end of last season.

Last season, a young and inexperienced Williamsport wrestling team emerged as champion of Washington County and had nine qualifiers for the Maryland Class 2A-1A West region tournament.

"A lot of young guys stepped up last year and wrestled well, and we had a lot of good things happen to us," said Mike Rechtorovic, who is beginning his seventh season as Williamsport's head coach. "Hopefully that trend continues."

If the Wildcats are successful again this season, it won't be a surprise to anyone.

Eight of their nine region qualifiers from last season are back, including five of their six individual county champs -- senior Joey Sutch (135), juniors Kemper Baker (119) and Matt Cody (285) and sophomores Killian Baker (112) and Zach Shoemaker (125).


The Wildcats' other returning region qualifiers are senior Ryan Llewellyn (145) and juniors Bobby Ardinger (130) and Reggie Russ (160).

"We should be all right with that kind of experience coming back, as long as everyone stays healthy and continues to work to get better," Rechtorovic said. "If we can get that to happen, we'll see where it goes."

The big name missing from their roster is Robbie Mies, who capped his senior year last season by winning a state title at 215 pounds.

That leaves Kemper Baker as Williamsport's -- and the county's -- top returnee. He was the state champ at 119 last season.

"It's definitely nice to have a returning state champ," Rechtorovic said. "He's got to live up to that now, and he's working hard."

As the coach pointed out, there's a lot of wrestling to do between now and the state tournament.

"The season is such a meat grinder," Rechtorovic said, "November to March."


The Warriors' Larry Sprecher is one of three new head coaches in the county. The other two are at Saint James and South Hagerstown.

Sprecher, 34, who took over for Brian Smoot, is anything but new to the sport. He wrestled at the University of Pittsburgh and was an assistant coach at both Bloomsburg and Bucknell universities. He also worked as a strength and conditioning coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now Sprecher is at Boonsboro, which has never finished better than third in the five-team county tournament.

"I'm excited. We have 28 kids out. That's a huge turnaround from previous years," he said. "We have three seniors, three juniors and the rest are sophomores and freshmen."

Junior Jon Best was the county champ at 171 last season. Juniors Nathaniel Proce (103) and Stephen Miller (152) and senior Travis Boreni (112) also had winning records last season.

North Hagerstown

Greg Slick begins his 31st season as Hubs coach with five wrestlers who had winning records last season -- seniors Adrian Rivas (130) and Kevin Mothershed (140), junior Carter Baer (119) and sophomores Connor McHose (152) and Dylan Dopson (285).

"A couple of other seniors should have good years, but we're still pretty young," Slick said.

North finished second to Williamsport at last season's county tournament.

"I think Williamsport and Smithsburg are going to be the strong teams in the county," Slick said. "But it's not where you start, it's where you end up. We'd certainly like to be in a position where we can press for that (county title) at the end of the season."

Saint James

Aaron Williams, who's in his first year as a chemistry teacher at Saint James, has replaced Chris Milmoe as the Saints' head coach.

"(Milmoe) is my assistant, although I'd almost consider him a co-coach," said Williams, 30, who was a standout high school wrestler in Pennsylvania.

Of the 26 wrestlers on their varsity roster, six are returning starters, including two who had winning records last season -- senior Joe Perri (189) and junior Ross Reid (171).

"We're definitely a young team, but they're hard-working kids," Williams said. "There's a lot of learning that has to be done this year."


Seniors Monica Hovermale (103), Dean White (140) and Nieko Akers (152) were county champions for the Leopards last season. Senior Nick Dilandro (125) is the only other wrestler on the current roster who had a winning record.

"The good thing is that we have eight seniors and some juniors who've been waiting to get in the lineup, so we should be OK," said Joe Dietrich, in his 32nd season as Smithsburg's coach. "We're hoping for a good year. I don't like saying any specific goals, but we have high expectations."

Hovermale, who became the first female wrestler to win a county title her freshman year, could become only the eighth four-time champ in county history.

South Hagerstown

As a senior at South in 1984, Donnie Rowland was a state runner-up in the heavyweight division, with Ralph Stottlemyer in his corner as the Rebels' assistant coach.

Rowland is now set to begin his first year as South's head coach, with Stottlemyer as his assistant.

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