States await best Howard qualifies five

4A-3A, 2A-1A

Old Mill seeks 5th title

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

Of the 27 county wrestlers heading into today's 4A-3A and 2A-1A state tournaments, only three are regional champions and five are runners-up.

As a champion, a state tournament qualifier is the top seed from his region and will face the fourth seed from another in the first round. Runners-up face the third seed from another region in the first round.

Four-time state champ Old Mill, which has qualified a 4A-3A high 10 wrestlers, has helped keep the title in Anne Arundel County since 1988, when it was a runner-up to Broadneck. The nine-time Region IV champs expect a challenge from co-No. 7 Randallstown, Lackey, Quince Orchard, McDonough, Frederick and Wheaton -- but not Howard.

Howard, which has qualified the most wrestlers (five) in coach Fred Bullock's six-year tenure, is looking to finish with at least a place-winner or two in the 4A-3A field. John Wiland (152, 29-4) has the best shot, but he'll have to get past McDonough's No. 3-ranked, returning state runner-up, Chris Hawkins (26-1) in the quarterfinals.

Centennial's region runner-up, Jason Nagle (112, 22-6), could meet Perry Hall's sixth-ranked Steve Boothe (24-2) in the quarterfinals, and Quince Orchard's fourth-ranked John Zinno (19-6) in the semifinals.

Two-time 2A-1A champ Owings Mills qualified eight wrestlers with four champs to win its second straight Region II title last weekend. It faces its biggest challenges from No. 2 North Carroll, 5 Francis Scott Key, No. 6 Northeast and North East (Cecil County).

Two of the eight qualifiers from Owings Mills are going for their third individual state titles, with All-American Grant Johnson (171, 31-0) and Gregg Kessler (135, 31-0).

Anne Arundel County's Northeast (12-1), the 2A-1A Region III champ over Hammond, brings nine qualifiers with six champs. North East (Cecil County) and Francis Scott Key have 10 and 11 qualifiers respectively, followed by North Carroll and Hammond with eight each.

7 Hammond could be a spoiler, but isn't viewed as a potential 2A-1A team champ, even with county and regional runners-up, Mac Goudy (171, 25-6) and Erin Woodward (140, 25-4), county champ Josh Stokes (145, 27-6) and county runner-up Pat Brennan (189, 27-5). Stokes and Brennan placed third in the region.

Each has what Hammond coach Bill Smith calls "tough seeds."

Goudy is on the same side of the bracket as North Carroll's No. 4 ranked Chris Boog (27-0), whom he could meet in the quarterfinals, and Johnson (31-0), whom he could meet in the semifinals.

Woodward will have to get past Smithsburg's top-ranked, returning state runner-up, Doug Batey (26-0) in the quarterfinals, Stokes could see Smithsburg's No. 5-ranked David Everhart (22-4) in the quarterfinals, and Brennan could meet Smithsburg's top-ranked, two-time state champ, Chris Kretsinger in the semifinals.

"We're looking to get at least six through the first round who can score for us. It'll take upsets at the other two," said Smith, who coached Hammond's first state champion, James Burrell (140), two years ago. "We're thinking as a team. We've worked hard this week, and everyone is more focused. Some of the kids are really on fire and want to do well. If they do what they're capable of doing, and we get some upsets, we can be in the hunt."

Individually, Oakland Mills' No. 2 ranked Adam Seidman (140, 29-1), the county's third four-time county champ, and Wilde Lake's sixth-ranked wrestlers Mike Green (171, 26-2) and Nate Casella (189, 25-2) are all multiple 2A-1A Region III champs within striking distance of a state title.

For Seidman, a two-time regional champ, the states are the only tournament he has not won. He placed third in the 4A-3A's as a sophomore and missed fourth last year by one match.

This year, he'll have to get by Northern of Garrett's fourth-ranked Allen Bittenger (27-5) in the quarterfinals, Overlea's John Fields (27-2) in the semifinals, and likely either Batey or Woodward to win it all. Batey pinned Bittenger in 2:09 for his regional crown.

Casella, last year's runner-up, likely will meet Owings Mills' third-ranked Ed Overton (31-1) in the semifinals. The winner, barring an upset, should face Kretsinger.

"Nate wants to win. It's his last shot," said Wilde Lake coach Rich Jackson, who coached Casella's brothers, Adam and Ben to fourth- and second-place finishes, respectively. "His head's in the right place. He'll be there, if it's meant to be."

Green's semifinal challenge is getting past J. M. Bennett's Region IV champ, Ken Farrell (26-0), who was third at 171 last year. A win would likely earn him a title bout Johnson, who pinned Green in 5:36 of their semifinal bout last year. Green, who rebounded for third place, so impressed Johnson, that Johnson told him, "you'll be state champ after I graduate."

"Mike wants to better than last year. It bothers him that he didn't go the whole match with Grant. He wants to face the best again," Jackson said. "But he's laid back, and there's not a lot of pressure. His goal is to win the states, but he knows he has two years to do it."

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