Hampe's magic moves Old Mill toward 5th title


February 05, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Enthusiasm for wrestling at Old Mill High has reached epidemic proportions, as students and faculty gear up for the Patriots' charge at an unprecedented fifth straight 4A-3A state title.

Team manager Scott Clause started it with the phrase "Drive For Five" on the cover of the team's preseason handbook, and the Patriots (10-0) routinely draw more than 1,000 people for big matches.

Coach Mike Hampe only recently began storing statistical information on his home computer, but Clause doesn't let the slightest detail of team exploits escape him.

His face buried in his score book after a recent match, Clause scribbled down these tidbits: the Patriots have a dual-meet winning streak of 31-0, and have outscored their opponents by an average of 55.4-10.9.

The streak nearly ended against DeMatha, but heavyweight Bob Shaffer (210 pounds) pinned a 275-pounder to keep it going. Hampe's dual-meet record is 185-22-3 over 18 years. He has won county dual meet titles and eight titles each in county and regional tournaments.

"They did quite enough to keep me busy last year," said Clause, who also covers the team for the school newspaper. "The wrestling team is well-known and the guys are popular at Old Mill."

The No. 2 Patriots, tonight face No. 3 North Carroll (10-0), the first of three obstacles before the Feb. 17-20 county tournament.

Next week, Old Mill visits No. 14 Chesapeake (7-4) and plays host to No. 4 Northeast (12-0).

"We'll be expecting a big gate for that one," said Old Mill athletic director Jim Dillon, of the Northeast match.

It all began when Greg Wise won his second consecutive state title in 1989 to help the Patriots win their first state crown.

"We had no idea what we had started, but there's always been an air of confidence at Old Mill," said Wise, now a 190-pound wrestler for the Naval Academy. "It's a magic that's passed down from one team to the next. I watched them wrestle the

other night and it's still the same way."

The magic begins

Entering the final round of the 1989 4A-3A state championships, Old Mill trailed North Carroll by a slim margin. Each team had two finalists -- Jude Deibel (119) and heavyweight Bill Ferencz of North Carroll, and Old Mill's Gary Baker (112) and Wise (152).

Baker stared across at Laurel's two-time state champion, David Land, who had hammered him, 11-4, in the semifinals the year before. But with 15 seconds remaining, Baker's five-point takedown nearly pinned Land -- and was enough for an 11-9 victory.

Deibel was beaten, 5-0, by Frederick Douglass' Marty Fowler, setting the stage for Wise.

"When Gary won, I knew that something magical was going to happen. I just knew we were going to win," said Wise, who overcame a 4-2 third-period deficit against Annapolis' Kevin Lynch for an 8-7 decision.

But how do you explain heavily favored Ferencz winning only 7-5 over Glen Burnie's Byron Davis, whom he had pinned earlier?

"Old Mill got a lot of breaks that day, but the things that happened, they made them happen," said North Carroll coach Dick Bauerlein, whose team was runner-up with 61.5 points behind Old Mill (62.5). "They had a lot of things fall their way, but ZTC they created their own breaks."

The gift

Jay Braunstein, a Mount St. Joseph graduate and wrestler at Clarion University, hadn't been near a mat in more than eight years when he walked into Old Mill's practice room three years ago.

"Right away, the old bug hit me," said Braunstein, 34, a former substitute teacher at the school. "I just couldn't leave. I've been his assistant ever since."

Walt Puller, another assistant and a former state champion at Northeast, was similarly drawn from his head coaching post at Meade last year.

"Mike Hampe's the main reason for it," Braunstein said. "He's got the gift."

The gift attracted 189-pound sophomore Don Patterson Jr., who leads the team in pins (13) and is 18-3 in only his second season.

"Mike Hampe saw him in the hall, asked him to try out for two weeks and said he could quit if he didn't like it," said Don Patterson Sr. "He's been wrestling ever since, and his grades have improved to the point where he's thinking college scholarship. Mike's just a tremendous person. The kids would walk over hot coals for him."

Marc Proccacini credits Hampe for making him a state champion in only his second full varsity season last year.

"Coach puts us in these big pressure situations early, so that it lessens the pressure later on," said Proccacini. "By the time we get to the states, it's like, 'I've been there before.' What's a big match to somebody else, is like just another match to us."

As chairman and director of the state tournament, Ron Belinko witnessed all four of the Patriots' title victories.

"Watching their kids, what Mike has done becomes obvious -- but it's often the hardest thing to do," said Belinko. "He convinces a kid of his role, whether it's to win a state title, or earn a point for the team. And he makes them feel good about it."

Unsung heroes

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