WESTMINSTER -- People have tried to rain on Old Mill's parade this season, but no one could stop the Patriots' wrestling team from celebrating an unprecedented fourth Class 4A-3A state title yesterday.
Although junior Marc Procaccini (160 pounds, 25-2-1 record) was the Patriots only champion in the state tournament, they placed seven of their state-record 12 qualifying grapplers into the top four of their weight classes to outpoint Charles County's McDonough, 116-99.5.
"We had a few things go unexpectedly, but overall, it was just a great effort by everyone," said Mike Hampe, who has a 175-22-3 dual meet record over 17 years. "It felt good to be champ, but a lot of guys worked really hard for this," said Procaccini, whose who had two pins and a decision in the tournament.
Another top effort was turned in by Aberdeen's Matt Slutzky (135, 32-1), who became the state's first four-time champion with his 13-1 decision over last year's state tournament runner-up, McDonough's Larry Green. Slutzky, who has a 122-5-1 career record, won his previous three titles at the Class 2A-1A level.
"I've had some disappointments, and sometimes I thought I' never get here," said Slutzky, last year's Baltimore Sun Wrestler of the Year. "But all I've been through has been worth it. It's like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders."
Randallstown's Mike Jenson (171, 33-0) defeated Old Mill's Bria Layman (28-3) 8-4 in a battle of defending state champions. His teammate, Johnny Montgomery (145, 33-1) needed an overtime takedown to win, 6-4, over McDonough's Damon Newsome.
"I felt real positive about the outcome, but I was nervous at first, said Jenson, who improved his three-year career record to 94-1-1. "I didn't wrestle my best the whole tournament, but I got serious for the last one."
Bel Air's Scott Birth (125, 24-0) kept Paint Branch's Craig Middledorf from reaching his goal of a third straight title, stunning the crowd with a 10-2 decision. Twice, he nearly pinned Middledorf, who was 33-0 before losing.
Broadneck's Shawn Miller (119, 34-0) completed an undefeate season with his 5-2 win over Wheaton's Steve Barwick. Last year, the Broadneck senior entered his title bout against Middledorf at 34-0, but he dropped a 6-5 decision and finished second.
"I didn't want to get sloppy, so I wrestled conservatively," sai Miller, who has a school record 101 victories against five losses. "I worked harder this year than in the past few years."
So did Aberdeen's Zack Fowl (112), last year's 2A-1A champion, who improved to 32-1 with his 3-0 decision over Wotton's Jason Rubin. Rubin reached the championship bout by defeating last year's 103-pound champion, Broadneck's Charlie Bennett.
"It felt great to win," said Fowl, a first-team All-Metro selection last year. "I've had pressure on me all year long as the defending champ."
Annapolis' Chip Cochran (152, 33-1) had two pins and two decisions in winning a title, including a semifinal fall over Laurel's previously unbeaten Chris Kluchhuhn. Severna Park's Aaron Cree (189, 29-5) avenged an earlier 1-0 loss to Paul Tower, this time, winning, 6-4.
For Dundalk, junior Rick Staab (140, 32-1) used a buzzer-beating takedown to win, 6-5, over Quince Orchard's Jorge Garcia (33-2), to become his school's first state champion.