Aberdeen goes after its eighth straight county title when the countywrestling tournament gets under way Friday night at Fallston High.
Again this year, the Eagles were undefeated in county dual meets. They are strong favorites to repeat as champs.
The Eagles, who won last year's title by 59 points over Edgewood,have won 13 county titles.
"I don't think we'll dominate as we have both in margin of victory and numbers of champions, but I think we'll place a large number of guys high," said Dick Slutzky, Aberdeen coach for the last 20 years. "We won one year without a champion, but we had 11 seconds or thirds."
The Eagles have three defending county champs, and two will go in as heavy favorites in their weight classes. Zack Fowl (21-1) is also defending state champ at 112 pounds. Matt Slutzky (21-1) is a three-time county and state champ at 140.
Heavyweight Aaron Wanless (14-5-2) also won a title last year. But thejunior suffered a surprising loss to C. Milton Wright's Jason JoinesWednesday night. Wanless led 3-2 when Joines took him down and pinned him with seven seconds left in the match.
With Joines' victory, the heavyweight division appears to have three contenders, including Edgewood's John Lamancusa. Joines beat Wanless, Wanless beat Lamancusa and Lamancusa beat Joines, so any one of the three could take the title.
The Eagles have a few other contenders who finished in the top three last year -- Frank Johnson (119), Todd Jones (152) and Mike Taylor (171). All won their matches Wednesday night against C. MiltonWright in the final county match of the season. Aberdeen won the meet, 37-21.
Johnson beat Ron Lentz, 6-2. Jones won by technical fallover Kevin Breslin. Taylor pinned Jim Johnson in 50 seconds.
The upset-minded Mustangs hung on through the lower weight classes, but the Eagles swept through the middle classes to remain unbeaten in the county. The Eagles also got wins from Kit Doran, who pinned Gordon Reilly at 130, and Chad Guerrera, who decisioned Ethan Kushner, 10-4, at 145. Charles Shannon drew with Barry Mitchell (171).
For C. Milton Wright, Vince Tucciarella (103) started off the meet by edging Mike Davis, 4-3. Aric Schwab (125) decisioned Giro Cristello, 14-2. Chris Miller (135) won a 6-3 decision over David Mumpower. Ryan Arist (189) decisioned Mike Grant, 8-2.
"I was still happy with the way things went," said Mustangs' coach Carl Holston. "There were a couple more matches we thought we could have won. But it took time for the team to gel. We're just starting to come together."
Schwab (6-4) and Miller (6-3), who both finished second in the tournament last year, are the Mustangs' top contenders for titles. However, Tucciarella and Arist could contend along with Joines.
The Mustangs, who lost onlytwo meets in the county, including one early on to Fallston, should be the closest to Aberdeen in the team title race. But in a tournament setting, the season's dual-meet history doesn't mean much.
"Anything can happen," said Holston. "I used to wrestle for Kenwood, and one year we lost a meet to Milford Mill, 39-3. We had only one win in that match, but wetook first place in the county tournament and Milford Mill finished third. You just don't know how you're going to matchup in a big tournament like that."
Although Edgewood was second last year, the Rams probably don't have the overall strength to make arun at the title this year.
The Rams, however, have three strong contenders for individual championships including Minh Dang (119) whowas second at 112 last year. Ty Long (125), who did not make weight last year, and Tim Beach (152), who finished third, also look tough.
Every other team has its contenders as well:
North Harford -- Marc Perrine (160), Matt Petza (140) and Brandon Moore (103). Bel Air -- Scott Birth (125), Rob Smallwood (152) and Anthony Pasko (130). Fallston -- Max Dodd (145), Derek Schwarz (140), Todd Paradise (160) and Tom Brazier (112). Havre de Grace -- Jim Ervine (125), Tom Burdsall(160) and Ricky Boggs (119). Harford Tech -- Albert Nichols (125). Joppatowne -- Brian McCarthy (125). (Weights are approximate. Because final seeding won't be completed until later this week, wrestlers mayopt for a different weight class.)
The county tournament begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Fallston High with preliminary bouts. Quarterfinals begin Saturday followed by semifinals at 6 p.m. The finals begin at 7 p.m.