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Washington County Wrestling Preview

North tries to turn 'dream' situation into winning reality

December 01, 2011|By ANDREW MASON | andrewm@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Preps Previews
Washington County Preps Previews

North Hagerstown coach Greg Slick is quick to temper the excitement about his wrestling team this season.

“Everybody hyped up those Philadelphia Eagles in the beginning of the year, and they didn’t quite pan out,” he said.

The Hubs might not be the “dream team,” but they potentially could be very good.

Eight starters are back from last season’s team that went 13-8 in dual meets and finished second in the Washington County tournament. The returnees include all four of their Maryland Class 2A-1A state qualifiers from last season — seniors Kenneth Burrs and Duncan Yeisley, junior Mike Tobery and sophomore Brendon Colbert — and all three of their county champions — Yeisley, Colbert and senior Connor McHose.

The excitement can be tempered, but not hidden.

“A lot of the kids worked really hard in the offseason and are excited,” Slick said. “I’m excited. I want to be hopeful and optimistic. We just have to stay healthy.”

Colbert is the star of the Hubs’ show. He went 35-2, was the state runner-up at 112 pounds and was The Herald-Mail’s Wrestler of the Year last season. And now he’s back for more.

“He seems to be 100 percent ready to go,” Slick said. “My focus with him is going to be to keep some of the pressure off, but to keep him ready to go because everybody is going to bring their ‘A’ game at him. He’s going to have a bull’s-eye on his back.”

Slick said senior heavyweight Dylan Dopson, who hasn’t wrestled since his 21-4 sophomore campaign due to injury, remains a question mark. After shoulder surgery in January, he played summer baseball and then football this fall.

“We’re going to let the doctor look at him one more time and get him cleared for wrestling,” Slick said. “If he was cleared for baseball and football, he should be cleared for wrestling. We’re hopeful.

“But he’s being recruited by a couple pretty good programs to play football, and I’d sure hate for anything to happen to him to keep him from playing football. Wrestling is his favorite sport, but the reality is he’s not going to go anywhere to wrestle.”

With North’s move from Class 2A to 3A this school year, the Hubs will now have to compete in the 4A-3A West region with South Hagerstown and all of Montgomery County.

“I can’t imagine it’s going to hurt us,” Slick said. “You know what the 2A-1A West wrestlers have done at the state tournament in recent years. Their success has been amazing.”

The most drastic change this season is the new set of 14 weight classes for all high schools. The new lineup is: 106 pounds, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. Previously, it was: 103, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189, 215 and 285.

“There’s no effect for us at all,” Slick said. “In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it’s going to have that much of an effect on anybody’s team. It might make it easier for a big football player to get to 220 instead of 215, but the weight classes are what they are, and the kids will fit into them no matter what.”

Williamsport

The Wildcats captured their third straight county title last season in dominant fashion, winning nine of the 14 weight classes and scoring a record 246 points.

However, only three of those champions return — seniors Zach Shoemaker and Killian Baker and sophomore Bryan Davis.

“It’s definitely not going to be easy, losing that many quality starters,” coach Mike Rechtorovic said. “But we’ve had a lot of young guys in the room who have been waiting their turn. Hopefully they take their opportunity to step up, and hopefully the young guys in the lineup last year continue to get better.”

Shoemaker, a two-time state placewinner, was third at 145 in 2A-1A last year and is 95-18 for his career. He likely will be at 152 or 160 this season.

“He’s in good shape and seems like he’s ready to have a big year,” Rechtorovic said.

Davis went 2-2 at 103 at states last year, finishing 30-9 for the season. While Baker won his third straight county title last season, competing at 125, he failed to return to states.

“Killian had a disappointing year, but he worked really hard in the offseason and is looking to rebound and have a good senior year,” Rechtorovic said.

A fourth straight county team title might be the furthest thing from Rechtorovic’s mind.

“We have a lot of things to get through before we get there,” he said. “I’m worried about Brunswick on Dec. 8 (the season opener). I can’t look down the road.”

Smithsburg

The Leopards were forced to grow up quickly last season.

“We had all underclassmen,” coach Joe Dietrich said. “Our two seniors got hurt very early, and we did the best we could.”

Expect better results this season, as 10 of 14 starters return.

“Last year was the first time in a way long time that we didn’t take anybody to states,” Dietrich said. “I certainly hope that changes this year. That’s my goal and a bunch of the kids’ goal. They really want to not let that happen again.”

They have six seniors leading the way, including Dillan Harbaugh, who was the county champ at 130 last season, and Chase Scott, who went 24-8 at 152 for the team’s best record.

“We have some really decent leadership this year,” Dietrich said. “We just want to regroup and have a decent season.”

Boonsboro

The Warriors are coming off their best season in program history.

They went 10-8 in dual meets for their first winning season, beat North and Smithsburg each for the first time and had multiple state placewinners, also for the first time — all in Mike McGill’s first year as head coach.

While McGill is back, his two state placewinners (Bucky Miller and Jon Best) have graduated.

“We’re going to need some guys to step up to cover the points that we lost,” McGill said.

While Boonsboro has eight starters back, only two had winning records — senior Joe Minoglio (who was 26-7 at 140) and junior Charles Anoman (18-12 at 112).

“A lot of those other guys got some pretty good experience last year,” McGill said. “And even though their records not show it, they improved a lot last year and I’m hoping they can build on that this year.”

There are still holes to fill.

“We got 25 kids to come out, but it seems like almost half of them are between 130 and 145. We need some of them to grow or get smaller,” McGill said. “Right now, we don’t have a 220 or heavyweight.”

South Hagerstown

Thomas Ashby is the Rebels’ new head coach, taking over for Donnie Rowland, whom he previously assisted. Rowland is now one of Ashby’s assistants.

“God has blessed me with the opportunity to coach this team, and the support I’ve received from everyone has been amazing,” said Ashby, who was a standout wrestler at South in the early 1990s.

He has a lot of coaching to do.

“We’ve increased the number of wrestlers times two from last year. We have about 30 kids on the squad who are pretty serious,” he said. “I think this will be the first year in over a decade that South Hagerstown will have a full lineup. I think this is going to be a good year.”

The top returnees are senior heavyweight Aaron Rowland, who went 26-7 and was a 4A-3A region champ last season, and senior Chris Collins, who went 22-6 at 189. Collins currently is sidelined with a broken thumb, but is expected back in a few weeks.

Overall, Ashby said he has about a half-dozen returning starters and “a ridiculous amount of raw talent that has never stepped foot on a mat until two weeks ago. My biggest challenge is going to be developing them.

“Our season is not going to be based on wins and losses,” he said. “This season is about respect, hard work and dedication.”

Saint James

The Saints return half of their starters from last year’s team that finished a close second to Sidwell Friends in both the Mid-Atlantic Conference tournament and regular-season duals.

“I think we’ll contend for it,” said coach Aaron Williams of the MAC titles. “I think we can hang with Sidwell. It will depend on matchups and some luck.”

Of the Saints’ returnees, four had winning records last season — seniors Michael Knable (19-6 at 112) and Brady Burker (10-7 at 285), junior John Stephens (15-10 at 145) and sophomore Alec Wingerd (15-13 at 103).

“We have some new guys who are filling the holes, guys who are into it and want to compete,” Williams said. “They want to learn and they want to get better.”

While the Saints only have three senior starters, their future looks promising.

“I’m more excited for next year or two years from now,” Williams said.

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