Northeast's 152-pound wrestler Al Grunder emerged as a champion in the Class 2A-1A Region III tournament's toughest weight class Saturdayat Howard County's Hammond High.
The Eagles' other champion, No. 2-ranked Marty Kusick (103, 25-0-1), cruised to a 10-0 victory over Chopticon's defending regional champion Phillip Gainey. Kusick reachedthe title bout by pinning his 10th and 11th victims of the year.
Grunder and Kusick were two of five state qualifiers for the Eagles, who finished third in the 15-team field, behind champion Oakland Mills (120 points) and runner-up Hammond (98), ranked No. 8 and No. 10 respectively in The Baltimore Sun poll.
Southern (10th, 35 points) got a runner-up finish from fourth-ranked heavyweight Robert Burley, and fourth-place finishes from Sherrard Neal (125) and Thomas Graves (171). Burley, a two-time county runner-up who placed third in last year's Class 2A-A state tournament, dropped a 4-2 decision to Oakland Mills' Monte Spencer, last year's Class 4A-3A state champ.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class qualify for next weekend's state tournament at Western Maryland College.
The effort was an improvement for Northeast, which was 11th in last year's regional. Southern was a runner-up to Chopticon last year.
"It feels pretty good. I've been working at it all year," said Kusick, a freshman who captured his first high school county title last week.
"I don't notice the pressure from the attention I've been getting. It's not really there. Hopefully, I can win states."
Kusick watched his sixth-ranked twin brother, Mike (112, 26-2), drop a 5-2 championship bout decisionto Damascus' No. 3-ranked defending regional champion Kendal Lloyd.
Mike had beaten Broadneck's defending Class 2A-1A state champion Charlie Bennett twice, including a 6-0 win for the county title last week. But he fell to the muscular Lloyd, who finished as the Class 2A-1A state runner-up last year after losing an overtime decision to Aberdeen's top-ranked Zack Fowl.
After finishing as the county runner-up last weekend, Northeast's Bill Katzenberger (145) took third place, losing only to Oakland Mills' Marcus Myles, a Howard County champion.
The Eagles' Jason Grunder (140, fourth) lost his quarterfinal bout to the eventual champion, Wilde Lake's Bobby Farace, and was edged, 7-5, by Oakland Mills' two-time Howard County champion Joe Salinas in his bid for third place.
After pinning the Howard County champion, Wilde Lake's Nick Yoon, in just 14 seconds, the Eagles' Steve Smiddy (119, 23-5-1) lost two consecutive heart-breakers in overtime. Smiddy finished third in the county, but did not qualify for the states.
Grunder (23-8) capped a grueling journey with a 9-4 championship bout decision of Damascus' Mike Johnson, a Montgomery County runner-up who pinned his way into the finals.
As the No. 2 seed, Grunder's side of the brackets included the Howard County champion from Hammond, Mac Goudy, Oakland Mills' Brian DuVall, who was third in HowardCounty, and Wilde Lake's Robert McGrain, who placed fourth.
Grunder defeated McGrain for the third time this year, frustrating him so badly that McGrain took a swing at Grunder and was disqualified from the tournament for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Goudy, who downed DuVall, 6-2, in the quarterfinal, dropped a 6-5 semifinal decision to Grunder.
"That was my toughest match," said Grunder, a junior who placed fourth in the regions as a freshman and third last year.
"I was leading, 3-0, in the second period, but he tied it, 3-3, in the third period."
With an escape and a takedown, Grunder built a 6-3 cushion against a late reversal from Goudy.