Gators on roll, fear role reversal

February 04, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

The unexpected result took place more than three decades ago, but Perry Hall wrestling coach Al Miller still gets anxious before nearly every match.

"It was my third coaching season back in 1962. I'd come from coaching Dundalk to Parkville High," recalled Miller, 58.

"I was so confident because we had six finalists in the county tournament, Kenwood and Milford Mill had four. But we ended up with only two champions and we only won those after overtime. We lost to Kenwood and Milford Mill -- two points out of first place."

The Gators (14-0, 6-0 league) beat Woodlawn, 39-27, yesterday to win Baltimore County's 3A-4A League division title. No. 8 Perry Hall also has wins over No. 9 Eastern Tech, No. 12 Owings Mills, No. 13 Broadneck and then-No. 14 Kenwood.

Among the area's 3A-4A schools, only five-time state champ Old Mill (No. 4) ranks higher than Perry Hall in The Baltimore Sun poll.

"They're [Gators] like a mirror-image of Arundel, a solid lineup all the way through," said Broadneck coach John Mayberry.

"That's our first dual meet against Baltimore County, and they did a good job on us."

Perry Hall is considered a top contender to dethrone Old Mill, along with Arundel, No. 15 Chesapeake, Linganore, Frederick and Churchill of Montgomery County.

Yet Miller refuses to look so far ahead, despite his 216-57-3 record over 19 seasons, including two years at Dundalk and five at Parkville.

Miller has won three county tournament titles -- the most recent ++ in1990 when he was inducted into Maryland's Hall of Fame -- and was a runner-up six times. He has coached four individual state champs and finished fourth to Bowie in 1980's team race and second to Westminster in 1986.

"We've got a hard-working team, but it's tough to say where it fits in my history," Miller said. "We don't have many guys who've been there -- there being the states."

Every starter returns from last year's 8-4 squad, but just five are seniors and only two -- regional champs Brian Yoakum (145 pounds, 17-3) and No. 4 Steve Boothe (119, 17-3) -- were state place-winners.

A senior, Yoakum (six pins, three technical falls) was third in last year's states after losing, 5-3, to Old Mill's eventual champ, Ken Seavey. No. 4 Boothe (seven pins), a two-time county runner-up, was fourth. They are two of 11 wrestlers on Perry Hall's 13-man roster who have winning records.

"We try to keep everyone focused, but there's some nervousness before matches," Boothe said. "I went through the same thing as a freshman when I was second in the region. You get used to the pressure."

Assisting Miller for the sixth year is coach Jim Taylor, the 'N technician in practice. Also joining the staff as a volunteer is Miller's distant cousin, Jeff Langrehr, who last season coached Randallstown to a state runner-up finish. Langrehr accepted a full-time position as a physical education teacher at Perry Hall.

"Jim and I have always worked well together, but I've gotten all the credit," Miller said. "Jeff leads some of the drills, and Jim goes around making corrections."

Sixth-ranked freshman Nick Sidiropoulos (103, eight pins) is 18-2, and junior Rich Hanzevach (130, 19-1, eight pins) was third in last year's county tournament. Senior Jeff Taylor (189, 19-2, 15 pins) placed third in last year's regionals. With four pins and a technical fall, senior Joe Farinetti (171, 17-3) strengthens the upper weights.

Junior Steve Page (135, 16-4) and sophomore Austin Kim (152, 14-6) have seven and nine falls, respectively, and senior Doug Clark (160, 12-8) has seven pins and a technical fall. Senior heavyweight Jesse Moore (7-5, five pins) is improving, and junior Luke Rider (130/135, 2-0) has two first-period pins.

The Gators should be stronger after wrestlers from 171 on down drop to the next lower weight class, and veteran Mike Atwell fills Farinetti's spot. Atwell, a starter last year, won last year's Overlea Tournament with his 11th fall.

Boothe said, "We think we can go all the way," but Miller countered, "I learned my lesson a long time ago, you just can never tell."

Boothe said: "That's Mr. Miller for you. He worries about everything."

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