WESTMINSTER — Old Mill's Marc Procaccini is probably the last person who thought he'd be the only individual titlist on Maryland's first four-time Class 4A-3A state champion wrestling team.
And Procaccini, a junior who transferred from Baltimore's Gilman School, still couldn't believe it as he stood on the victory podium with camera lights flashing in his eyes. Even while cradling in his victory plaque in his lap later, he had trouble absorbing the fact that he earned the title of the state's best Class 4A-3A level 160-pound wrestler.
"I just feel very fortunate," said Procaccini (25-2-1), a county and regional champion who used two each in decisions and pins -- including a 10-2 championship bout victory over Walt Whitman's Brian Willard -- to win the crown.
"This is an honor," said Procaccini, witha brief glance down at his award. "Especially because I feel that there are a lot of other guys on the team who deserve this."
Indeed.Procaccini's victory gave the Patriots their winning margin, 116-99.5, over Charles County's McDonough, but the tournament was mathematically over before he took the mat.
McDonough had enjoyed an 86.5-72lead over Old Mill heading into the consolation semifinal round, where the Patriots got key wins from third-place finishers Ernie Longazel (189, a 29-2 record) and heavyweight Don Marco (31-3), and from fourth-place finishers Jason Bryant (103), Vytas Dulys (119) and John Bliss (145, 29-2).
McDonough's two wrestlers then lost both of theirconsolation final matches, while the Patriots got key victories fromLongazel and a pin from Marco to go ahead permanently, 111-99.5, since all four of the Rams' championship finalists lost.
"Nobody knewthat Ernie Longazel had strep throat all week, or that John Bliss has had a stomach disorder," said Old Mill coach Mike Hampe, whose Patriots kept the title in the county for the fifth straight year. Broadneck won in 1988. "They won't tell you about those things but I will. And I'm not making excuses, those are just the conditions they wrestled under."
Anne Arundel had more individual titlists than any other county. Joining Procaccini were champions Shawn Miller (119, 35-0) of Broadneck, Chip Cochran (152, 33-1) of Annapolis, and Aaron Cree (189, 29-5) of Severna Park.
Broadneck's Charlie Bennett (112, 31-3) finished third, as did South River's Billy Whitcher (34-1) and Arundel's Phil Meenan (103, 28-4). Bennett, last year's state champion, lost a 3-2 semifinal decision to Wooton's Jason Rubin, and Whitcher was beaten by Paint Branch's two-time state champion Craig Middledorf, who was a runner-up this year.
Arundel's Greg Booth (171) and Meade heavyweight Jeff Katona were fourth.
Miller and Cochran lost 6-4decisions in finishing as runners-up a year ago, but each looked impressive in winning this year. Cochran won his title bout, 7-1, over McDonough's Chris Hawkins after nailing his 14th pin of the year over Laurel's previously unbeaten Chris Kluchhuhn in the semifinals.
"Ididn't know much about Kluchhuhn, but what I had heard was pretty impressive," said Cochran. "I was really up for the match. I worked hard for this and I got the results that I wanted."
So did Miller, a senior who ends with a school-record 101 victories against five losses.
"Going undefeated was all that mattered to me," said Miller, who used two each in pins and decisions.
Assistant Coach Carter Rigsbee watched Cree beat Thomas Johnson's Paul Tower, 6-4, to become hisschool's first champion since Rigsbee won at 155 pounds in 1982. "I wrestled (Tower) last year and he beat me 1-0," said Cree, a county and regional runner-up to Longazel. Cree is in only his third year of wrestling. "Carter Rigsbee's been a real incentive to me all year. And I had lost so much to Longazel that I was tired of being second."