COACH OF THE YEAR Bill Smith, Hammond -- Smith took the Bears (12-1) through another record-breaking season, including a county tournament record 244.5 points. They also tied two other records with nine finalists and seven champs, and were ranked as high as No. 9 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association. Hammond's eighth-place finish at the state tournament was also a school record, eclipsing last year's mark of 11th. Last year's squad placed just two wrestlers -- third and fourth -- in the states. This year, the Bears had a state champ and two fourth-place finishers.
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR Chris Williams, Hammond, Sr., 152 -- Third-ranked Williams the Bears' second-ever state champ set a school-record for victories in a season with 35. Williams (17 pins, five technical falls) won his second county crown in three seasons, was a regional champ, beat Smithsburg's No. 2-ranked David Everhart (26-2) in the state semifinals and defeated Aberdeen's sixth-ranked Chad Gurrera (29-2) in the title bout. A week earlier, Williams dethroned Rockville's fourth-ranked, defending regional champ John King (33-3) by 1-0 in the regional semifinals. Williams' signature move was a blistering, single-leg takedown that kept opponents at bay.
THE FIRST TEAM Juri Freeman, Oakland Mills, Sr., 103 -- No. 2-ranked Freeman (10 pins, five technical falls) captured his second straight county title and added regional and state titles, the latter on a third-period reversal over Edgewood's Thomas Free (19-2) for a come-from-behind, 2-1 decision. Freeman (33-1) beat his other three state tournament opponents by a combined 14-4. His only loss was to a New Jersey wrestler.
Mike Chang, Hammond, Jr., 112 -- The muscular Chang (30-5) won the county title and finished third in the regions, ending the ++ year with 13 pins. Among Chang's most impressive wins was a come-from-behind, 7-4 victory over Northern's 3A-4A state runner-up Bruce Bevard (32-5) to win the South River Tournament. Chang also had a victory over Quince Orchard's David Chee (27-5).
Josh Zillmer, Hammond, Fresh., 119 -- Zillmer (six pins, one technical fall) had an outstanding season for a freshman, winning the county and regional titles before being upset in the first round of the states. Among the victories for Zillmer (23-3) were wins over Northern's 3A-4A state runner-up Gary Hottle (30-6) and Lackey's Chris Gilligan (32-5), who placed third in the 1A-2A state tournament.
Wade Mitchell, Oakland Mills, Jr., 125 -- Mitchell (28-5) won his second straight county crown and was a runner-up in the regions, losing in overtime to Rockville's third-ranked county champ Kevin Pedone (28-4). Mitchell ended the season with eight pins and two technical falls.
John Motley, Hammond, Sr., 130 -- Sixth-ranked Motley (10 pins, three technical falls) won his second straight county crown, was a regional runner-up and placed fourth in the states. Motley (31-9) racked up a school-record 202 takedowns and had victories over Carroll County champ Corey Rill (29-7) and Harford County champ Travis Volmar (23-7).
Jeremy Lignelli, Glenelg, Fresh., 135 -- Lignelli (19-6) won the county tournament -- and the county tournament's Outstanding Wrestler Award as voted by the coaches -- and finished fourth in the regional. He had five pins and a technical fall.
Brian Law, Hammond, Sr., 135 -- Law (10 pins) was second in the county and regional tournaments and placed fourth in the states. Law (28-10) split victories with Glenelg freshman Jeremy Lignelli, losing in their county tournament title bout. He lost, 5-1, to Francis Scott Key's second-ranked, two-time state champ Randy Owings (30-1), and beat Harford County champ Pat Elliott (27-6).
Dan Proulx, Hammond, Sr., 140 -- Proulx (20-6) won county and regional crowns and was one match from placing in the states. Proulx had seven pins, overcoming early-season injuries to bolster an already potent squad. He lost, 9-5, to Francis Scott Key's state champ Chris Beale and handed Baltimore County runner-up and regional champ Aaron Lovinger (25-4) his final loss of the year.
Eric Paskin, Howard, Jr., 145 -- The county's most improved wrestler, sixth-ranked Paskin (30-1) was a takedown technician who won all but one match, taking county and regional titles and placing third in the states. He had impressive wins over Rising Sun's two-time regional champ Randy Jourdan, as well as Old Mill's regional champ Mike DiLeonardi and Northern's regional champ Sean Healey.
Ricky Trott, Atholton, Soph., 160 -- The county's other vastly improved wrestler, Trott (29-5) had 14 pins and two technical falls. This county champ lost in overtime to Williams during the regular season and beat Damascus' eventual state champ Tom Horwat to win his regional crown, 11-9. He also defeated Northeast's county runner-up Ron Katzenberger, who is the only wrestler to beat South Carroll's sixth-ranked 3A-4A state champ Mike Chenoweth (31-1, 27 pins).