Hammond wins first county title Wrestling

February 21, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Hammond coach Bill Smith had anticipated this moment for a year, ever since his wrestling team came up 16 points short at last winter's county wrestling tournament.

Last night at Atholton High, the Hammond Bears gave Smith a special present -- and made history in the process. The Bears took a 22-point lead after the semifinals, then held off late-charging Oakland Mills to edge the Scorpions, 220-212 1/2 and win Hammond's first county tournament.

The Bears did it the way they went 13-1 and won two regular-season tournaments -- with unmatched depth. Eleven of Hammond's 13 wrestlers placed in the top three of their respective weight classes, including eight in the finals.

"I'm elated. Everyone deserves credit for this, all the way down to all of the JV kids who are in our room every day," said Smith, who fought back tears after the Bears were presented with the tournament championship trophy. "This is something we've worked very hard for, and something we deserve."

John Motley (130) and Josh Stokes (152) won titles for Hammond. Stokes came up especially big for the Bears. He came back from a 6-2 deficit against top seed Geoff Henderson (Oakland Mills) to tie the match at six -- thanks to four stalling points against Henderson -- then traded takedowns with Henderson before pulling out a 9-8 decision with an escape with 10 seconds left in the match.

"I feel lucky just to be a part of the first Hammond team to win this tournament," said Stokes, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler. "I wasn't going to stay down on the mat with 10 seconds left and go to overtime with Henderson. I knew I was going to get up."

Stokes prevented what could have been a disastrous ending for the Bears. In the 145-pound match, Hammond's Erin Woodward suffered a controversial disqualification against Oakland Mills' Roy Parker, after Parker had taken a 3-2 lead in the second period. That allowed Oakland Mills -- which produced a tournament-high five champions -- to get within striking distance.

The Scorpions, who had won the last three tournaments, lost the tournament for only the fourth time in 17 years. They still grabbed their share of headlines, though.

Adam Seidman (140) became only the third wrestler in county history to win four county titles, when he decisioned Wilde Lake's Tony Crawford, 11-0. Other Oakland Mills wrestlers who earned titles were Juri Freeman (103), Wade Mitchell (112) and heavyweight Justin Wethington.

Wilde Lake, which finished a distant, disappointing third with 162.5 points, had three champions -- Fennell Howell (125), Mike Green (171) and Nate Casella (189).

Mount Hebron's Scott Cooper (119) won his second straight title. Glenelg's Shawn Chaconas (160) and Centennial's Bill Chedester (135) also won championships.

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