Annapolis' muscular Chip Cochran remained a pillar of hope as the rest of the Panther wrestling squad seemed to come apart.
The defending county tri-champion Panthers finished sixth in Saturday's ninth annual Arundel wrestling invitational, failing to defend the only tournament crown they've ever won.
The Panthers battled illness and internal problems as Montgomery County's Quince Orchard (186.5 points, first place) -- ranked No. 2 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association -- waged war with Newark's(N.J.) St. Benedict's (175, second) and Howard County's Oakland Mills (104, third).
One Panther starter quit the team early in the season, and three others failed to make weight for the tournament.
Yet another blow was delivered when defending champion Ford Baumgardener (140) lost twice in the first round, once to Oakland Mills' Joe Salinas and the other to the flu.
Baumgardener got sick midway through the match and left the tournament for good after Salinas pinned him.
Through it all, Cochran (152), the MSWA's No. 2-ranked wrestler,was the picture of stability in winning his second consecutive crown.
He scored a four-point takedown for an early 4-0 lead and groundout a 7-3 decision over McDonough's No. 5-ranked Chris Hawkins (12-1).
"I was pleased with the way I wrestled," said Cochran, a countyand regional champion during last year's state tournament runner-up 33-2 season.
"My problem had been setting up takedowns, and this guy was pretty tough. But this match shows that I've improved on them a little."
Cochran, whose only loss came against Mount St. Joseph's top-ranked Kevin Neville, has a career 73-6 record. He was 26-3 as a sophomore at St. Mary's.
At Annapolis, ranked No. 5 in The Sun poll, Cochran maintains a "B" average and has scored 1,200 on his Scholastic Aptitude Test.
"Our team has been having its problems this year, but Chip is one of the main reasons we've done well," said his teammate, 135-pound Tom Sfakiyanudas.
"Every time I've ever thought about quitting, or giving up in a match, I look at Chip. He never gives up, and he works so hard. He sets a good example."
Sfakiyanudas (135, 12-3) was third after dropping a 3-2 overtime decision to Oakland Mills' fifth-ranked Adam Seidman (14-1) -- his second one-pointloss to Seidman this season.
For Arundel, seventh with 66 points,103-pound Phil Meenan used a pair of second-period pins and a major decision to improve his record to 12-1 with five pins. Meenan is ranked No. 4 by the MSWA.
The only blemish on Meenan's record -- a 6-3loss to Northeast's No. 3-ranked Marty Kusick (12-0) -- came in a dual meet. Among his victories is a 3-1 decision over North Carroll's No. 5-ranked Jeremy Myers in the Meade tournament.
In Saturday's title bout, Meenan, a sophomore, added Quince Orchard's David Chee to his list of victims.
Meenan led, 2-0, heading into the final period, but turned Chee for six back points, handing Chee his fourth loss in 19 matches.
"I really didn't know how (Chee) wrestled, so I had a hard time turning him in the first period. So in the third period Ijust relaxed and took the first opportunity I saw," said Meenan, whoplaced third in the county and fifth in the region in last year's 24-9 season.
There was nothing else to see Saturday as far as individual champions are concerned. Arundel's fifth-ranked Greg Booth (171,15-1) and Annapolis' Seth Robbins (125, 13-4) lost close decisions in their title bids.
Two more Annapolis wrestlers, Kevin Berk (171)and heavyweight DeMond Galloway, were fourth. So was Arundel's Chad Bawell (125).
Galloway led, 2-1, in his semifinal bout with QuinceOrchard's No. 2-ranked David Vernier (18-1), but was pinned late in the second period.
Booth couldn't overcome an ankle injury and lost, 9-7, to Quince Orchard's sixth-ranked Jacob Ritchie (18-0) on a buzzer-beating takedown. A runner-up for the second straight year, Booth had beaten Ritchie in an overtime semifinal a year ago.
This time, he was trailing, 4-0, when he suffered an ankle injury just one minute and 20 seconds into the bout.
While teetering like a tree about to fall, the junior Wildcat managed a 7-6 lead. With 15 seconds left, Booth was penalized a stalling point, tying the bout at 7, beforeRitchie's bout-ending maneuver.
Robbins lost a 6-4 decision to Vin Almeida of St. Benedict's on Almeida's overtime takedown. Trailing,3-0, midway through the second period, Robbins used a four-point takedown to go ahead briefly, 4-3. Almeida escaped to tie the bout, 4-4,heading into the third period.