Owings Mills wins second straight title Class 2A-1A wrestling

March 08, 1992|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

WESTMINSTER -- Two was a popular number with the Owings Mills wrestling team last night.

That's because two Eagle wrestlers -- Gregg Kessler and Grant Johnson -- won their second straight individual state titles, helping Owings Mills edge Smithsburg for its second straight Class 2A-1A state title at Western Maryland College.

Owings Mills, which routed Southern of Harwood last year, didn't have as much fun this time. The Eagles, who added a third state champion in Cory Setlen (119), finished with 91.5 points, topping the runner-up Leopards, who had 85.5.

Owings Mills coach Guy Pritzker said he thought his team had a shot at winning, but purposely kept a low-key attitude.

"I don't like to be cocky," said Pritzker. "I just like to sit back and put it in the hands of God. I knew it was possible. I was hoping for third, praying for second, and first was a miracle."

Setlen (32-1) started the show for Owings Mills, holding off a late charge from Minh Dang of Edgewood for an 8-6 victory. Setlen was leading by counts of 5-0 and 7-1, but Dang rallied late.

For Kessler (130), this state title was easier than his first. Last year, his match with Kyantae Haukins of Frederick ended in a 4-4 tie, and Kessler won by criteria. This year, Kessler rolled to a 10-2 victory over Brian Johnson of Harford Vo-Tech.

"It was definitely easier winning this way, a lot less tension," said Kessler, who finished at 34-1. "I liked it a lot better."

Johnson (160) suffered through the toughest match of the three. He edged Marc Perrine of North Harford, 2-0, to claim his second title. The only points of the match came on a second-period reversal.

For Johnson (33-1), it was an especially sweet victory, as Perrine defeated him in the regional title match, 5-4, on a takedown in the final seconds. When asked about his and the team's state title, all Johnson could do was grin.

"It's ecstasy, really, for me and the team," said Johnson.

It was bitter, however, for Smithsburg. The Leopards led by three points, 81.5-78.5, heading into the final round. Both teams had three wrestlers in the finals, but Owings Mills won with all three while Smithsburg had just one titlist -- Chris Kretsinger (189).

"We had to have some wins," said Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich. "We knew they were going to have some winners."

There were several other local champions. Jeremy Myers (103) won for North Carroll, along with teammate Tom Dell (135). Dell had lost in the finals two years in a row, but scored a convincing 8-1 decision over Brad Calehuff of Elkton.

For Dell, as well as coach Dick Bauerlein, this was a long-awaited victory.

"I just didn't want what happened last year to happen again," said Dell, who finished 29-1. "I was definitely more aggressive."

Said Bauerlein: "He's the most hard-luck wrestler I've ever coached. There's never been a wrestler with a bigger heart than Tom Dell."

Dell also finished third in his freshman year. He lost in overtime two years ago, with an injured arm, and fell by two points last year. This year, he wrestled with an injured finger on his left hand.

Jesse Channell (152) gave Hereford its only title of the night. Monte Spencer of Oakland Mills took the heavyweight title, his second straight.

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