Mike Hampe's Old Mill Patriots joined an elite class of three-time state champion wrestling teams last year and kept the Class 4A/3A state title in the county for the fourth straight season.
The Patriotscontinued their record-setting pace, breaking Bowie's 11-year-old record for total points (113) by hammering second-place North Carroll, 130.5-95.5.
No coach has ever won four consecutive state crowns, and Hampe knows both Broadneck and Annapolis, not to mention Montgomery County's powerful Quince Orchard, are trying to make sure he isn't the first.
"Right now, we have an excellent nucleus with five place-winners back. But we have to hope the other guys wrestle well," said Hampe, who has a 160-22-3 dual-meet record with six county titles.
The Patriots won their seventh Region IV title a year ago, qualifying a meet-record 10 wrestlers in the top four of their weight classes. And the state champion Layman brothers, Brent (135) and Brian (152), became only the third sibling combination to win in the same year.
Despitethose accomplishments, however, the Patriots (15-1) had a dual-meet winning streak snapped at 33 by Broadneck, which later lost to Annapolis, forcing a three-way tie for the county title.
"Broadneck onlylost two guys from that team, and Annapolis has got almost everybodyback," Hampe said. "There's just a lot more parity this year. Chesapeake and Severna Park have some good individuals. And so does Northeast. We're not closing our eyes to anyone."
Broadneck, under eight-year coach John Mayberry, won the state title four years ago. Last year was the first time Annapolis won a share of the county title in the tenure of 12-year coach Dave Gehrdes.
"I think there's pressure on all three teams to do what each of them did last year," said Gehrdes, who has 10 starters back. "We have a competitive lineup up and down the line, but you're not going to get me making predictions. Let'sjust say I like our chances."
Surprises do happen.
Just ask second-year Southern coach Tyrone Neal, whose Bulldogs (82 points) placed four of eight wrestlers in the top four of their classes, including one state champion, in a Class 2A/1A state tournament runner-up finish to Owings Mills (125).
Next, he'll try to dethrone county 3A/2A league champ South River.
Third-year St. Mary's coach Brad Best (29-4 in two seasons) is trying to win a third straight Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference title. After winning the MSA C Conference co-championship, Severn was winless last year. So eight-year coach Bob Borgenrief is trying to regain the Admirals' winning ways.
The following is a look at the county's 13 weight classes:
* 103 pounds -- In posting a 24-9 record as a freshman last year, Arundel's Phil Meenan finished fourth in the county and lost close decisions tothree of the state's top four place-winners -- all from the county.
Meenan's back in the weight class, and the guys who beat him have moved on. By rights of passage, he should be the man to beat. But he may not be.
After finishing fourth in the county and region at 112, Annapolis junior Kevin Owen (19-14) has cut weight to 103. Northeast freshman Marty Kusick went 35-5 as a junior-league state champion and even owns a 4-3 decision over last year's 103-pound state champ from Broadneck, Charlie Bennett.
Others have joined the invasion, including South River's former junior-league state champ, Travis Murdock, Broadneck junior Nick Pantazes (a junior varsity county champ) andSeverna Park freshman James Kuch (a junior-league runner-up).
Chesapeake sophomore Mark Downey (11-11) or Meade senior Rich Pachoca could upend any one of the above, and St. Mary's Tim Klepper was 12-5 competing in the Navy juniors.
* 112 -- Returning regional and state champion Bennett (34-2, 16 pins) was a county runner-up last year to Old Mill senior Steve Lundstrom (30-5). But Lundstrom later would yield the regional and state title bouts to Bennett, now a junior.
Junior Sherrard Neal (17-6-1), Southern's regional runner-up, was third in the Class 2A/1A state meet at 103. Annapolis sophomore Mike Zambarnardi was 13-10 at 103, and Chesapeake senior Rich Brown was a junior varsity county champ.
But Northeast freshman Mike Kusick was ajunior-league state champ with a 42-6 record. If that's not enough, he also owns a technical-fall victory over Meenan from a year ago. Another freshman, Severna Park's George Mamalis, was third in the junior-league states.
For St. Mary's, freshman Dan Carroll was 14-1 in the Navy junior leagues and Severn's Chris Michelson also brings junior-league experience.
* 119 -- Broadneck's No. 2-ranked state runner-up Shawn Miller (34-1, 26 pins) moves up a class and should win consecutive county and regional titles.
Trying to stop the senior Bruin will be Old Mill senior Vytas Dulys (21-13-1), Chesapeake sophomore Steve Shirk (17-2-1) and Northeast sophomore Steve Smiddy.