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11 county wrestlers set to hit the mats at states

February 28, 2013|By ANDREW MASON | andrewm@herald-mail.com

Of the 11 Washington County wrestlers who qualified for the Maryland state tournament, only two have been there before.

Williamsport junior Bryan Davis, a three-time state qualifier who placed sixth at 120 last year, will be at 126 pounds in Class 2A-1A, while North Hagerstown junior Gene Balcita, who went 1-2 last year at states at 126, will be at 138 in Class 4A-3A.

The experience should count for something when the championships begin Friday at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House. At least Davis and Balcita might not feel quite as overwhelmed by it all.

“Experience definitely doesn’t hurt,” Williamsport coach Mike Rechtorovic said. “A lot of guys walk in — it’s a big arena and there are eight mats on the floor — and they realize it’s the best of the best in the state. But if you’ve been there before, you realize it’s just another wrestling tournament.”

Five of the 11 county qualifiers are from Williamsport — senior Nick Miller (106 pounds), junior Brandon Iseminger (285), sophomore Austin Keadle (195) and freshman Kobe Baker (145), along with Davis.

Miller and Keadle both enter as West region champions, and Miller again is considered the man to beat in his weight class this weekend.

While this will be Miller’s first state tourney in Maryland, he’s no stranger to big shows. As a sophomore at Hedgesville, he was a West Virginia Class AAA state runner-up.

“He’s wrestled in plenty of big tournaments in his day,” Rechtorovic said. “He just needs to go down there and wrestle the way he’s capable of. I don’t think it’s going to affect him much.”

Smithsburg seniors Travis Leopold (195) and Saul Herrera (285) also will be in the 2A-1A field after each placed second in the West region last weekend.

They also will end the Leopards’ drought, as Smithsburg hasn’t been represented at states since 2010 — at least not by wrestlers. As a member of the state tournament committee, Leopards coach Joe Dietrich has helped with weigh-ins and crowd control the last two years at Cole Field House.

“It’s great,” Dietrich said at the region tourney. “That way I won’t have to work when I go down to states. I can coach.”

Other state qualifiers include South Hagerstown freshman Isaiah Brooks (106) and senior Marquil Holt (220) and North Hagerstown senior Amont Hawkins (182), all in Class 4A-3A.

In first-round action Friday, region champions will face fourth-place finishers from one of the other three regions, while region runners-up will meet third-place finishers in each of the 16-man brackets.

Upsets, at least by seedings, always happen. And the West often proves to be the best.

Last year, Williamsport’s Davis entered as a fourth-place West region finisher, just as he’ll do this year, and won his first two matches to advance to the semifinals.

“You come out of our region as a top-four, you definitely have a chance to go down there and do some damage,” Rechtorovic said.

The action begins Friday at 2:30 p.m. and concludes Saturday night with the championship finals, which start at 6:30.

“It all leads up to this,” Rechtorovic said. “Everybody who wrestles in this state tries to get to this tournament, and everyone who’s there tries to win it.”

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