ABERDEEN — For the first time in five years, Aberdeen wrestling coach Dick Slutzky had to accept the runner-up trophy in his own tournament.
His Eagles entered Saturday's fifth annual Aberdeen Invitational ranked No. 5 in The Baltimore Sun poll and No. 7 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, but were downed, 209.5-206.5, by an unranked Chesapeake Cougars squad thirsty for statewide respect.
"We didn't have many water breaks during practice last week, and Coach (Tom Slichter) made us wrestle each other like five or six times," said sophomore Steve Shirk (119), one of five champions for the Cougars, who twice were third in the tournament before finishing second last year.
The reward, a No. 9 MSWA ranking for the Cougars -- with three-time Class 2A-1A state champion Aberdeen dropping to 10 -- will go a long way toward quenching that thirst.
North Harford (110 points) was a distant third, followed by Archbishop Curley (95), Towson (76) and Dulaney (62).
The lead changed hands three times in the championship round before the Cougars' 171-pound Shawn Somers (13-1, nine pins) beat Aberdeen's Charles Shannon, 7-0, and teammate Chuck McConnell (12-3, 10 pins) scored his third pin of the day over Aberdeen's Mike Grant. That put Chesapeake ahead to stay, 209.5-200.5, with one bout left.
The Cougars had a 7-2 advantage in head-to-headbouts against Aberdeen.
"We wanted to join that top echelon," said Somers. "So we tried to come in here and dominate, setting a standard for ourselves."
Shirk improved to 6-1, pinning his three opponents in a combined six minutes and six seconds. That included Aberdeen's defending Harford County champion, senior Brett Johnson, at 1:31 of their championship bout.
The Cougars also got repeat titles fromjunior Ron Alexander (125, 9-2) and sixth-ranked sophomore Doug Horton (130, 11-2), racking up a tournament-high 19 pins.
Aberdeen's defending state champion Zack Fowl won his title, 18-1, over Chesapeake's Rich Brown (11-3), and the Cougars' Tony Perillo (160, 12-4) was a runner-up to North Harford's second-ranked Marc Perrine (16-0).
Chesapeake set the tone with an 11-pin first round, advancing all 13 wrestlers for 102.5 points. Only Ron Shirk's (152) technical fall andPerillo's major decision kept the Cougars from a perfect 104-point opening round.
Aberdeen also advanced 13 first-round wrestlers, butwith 10 pins and three decisions, still trailed with 98 points.
"They were a very balanced team, and I knew it would be close," said Slutzky, whose four champions included his son, three-time state champMatt Slutzky (140).
"We matched up well with them, and I think that's the whole story," said seventh-year coach Slichter. "We knew Aberdeen was the team to beat. We wrestled like we did in winning the Arundel Tournament last week."
The head-to-head bouts began in the semifinal round, with Perillo winning an overtime upset, 7-5, over Aberdeen's county runner-up, Mike Taylor, and teammate Kevin Sellers being pinned by Aberdeen's heavyweight county champion, Aaron Wanless. The Cougars advanced just seven wrestlers into the finals, compared tonine by Aberdeen, and fell behind, 181-168.
But Chesapeake outscored the Eagles, 15.5-5, in the consolation round, closing to 186-183.5.
Chesapeake won both head-to-head consolation matches as Rob Zittle (135) edged Aberdeen's Asa Cromwell, 5-2, for third place, and Steve Kopp (145, 12-2) downed the Eagles' Chad Guerrera, 10-5. In otherconsolation matches, Steve Davis (140) scored a technical fall, while Mark Downey (103, 9-5) and Ron Shirk (8-5) finished fourth.
OnlyTaylor (160) finished third for Aberdeen. Three Eagles, including Cromwell and Kopp, finished fourth.
The Cougars (3-0 in dual meets) face Arundel (3-3) tomorrow and Broadneck (3-0) Thursday. Broadneck, which tied Annapolis and Old Mill for last year's dual meet county title, is ranked No. 3 in The Sun and No. 7 in the MSWA.