Smith, Hammond earn state of respect County champs impress in Md. meet Coach of the Year

March 14, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Two years ago, Bill Smith coached 140-pound James Burrell to Hammond's first individual 2A-1A state crown.

Last year, Smith's Bears captured the county dual-meet title. This year, the Bears (13-1) were not only repeat dual-meet champs, but also added their first county tournament crown.

And with their 11th-place finish in the 70-team 2A-1A state tournament last weekend -- the highest the Bears have finished -- statewide respect finally may have arrived for Hammond's program.

For that, Smith gets Howard County Coach of the Year honors from The Baltimore Sun.

"We've got a great crop of kids coming back next season, and we've already talked about taking it to another level," said Smith, who watched seniors Erin Woodward (140, 29-5) and Josh Stokes (145, 30-7) place third and fourth, respectively, in the state tournament.

Woodward was a county and regional runner-up, and Stokes was a county champion who won the tournament's MVP award. Stokes took third in the region.

A personal highlight for Smith, however, was watching senior Nakia White (135) place third and fourth in the counties and regions, respectively, to qualify for the states.

"He struggled and went through a lot, but I told him wrestling was like life," Smith said, "You handle life's problems the same way you handle wrestling. He's thankful the Lord gave him the opportunity."

Area coaches voted Hammond as high as No. 7 in this year's Baltimore Sun top 15 poll. And Haswell Franklin, chairman of the Maryland State Wrestling Association, asked Smith to coach the 2A-1A All-Stars in last Tuesday's Senior All-Star Classic at Johns Hopkins.

Smith, with Pikesville's Curt Boushell and Rising Sun's Dean Cox, coached the 2A-1A squad to the gold medal with victories over the Private School and 4A-3A All-Stars.

This year, Hammond captured the Edgewood tournament title, edging Region IV champ, Rising Sun. It was a Region III runner-up to the eventual 2A-1A state champ, Northeast. Northeast will be loaded again next season, but so will Hammond.

County champ John Motley (130) will return for the Bears, along with runners-up Mike Chang (112), Danny Proulx (119) and heavyweight Jimmy Jackson, third-place finishers Brian Law (125) and Jimmy Weston (160), and Amit Kapoor (103), who was 6-1 in dual meets.

"We've got some freshmen coming in, and some of the returning kids have been talking about working out over the summer," Smith said. "I wish the season wasn't over -- I just want it to keep going."

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