Unbeaten Hammond produces an emotional championship

February 08, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Emotion usually runs high at Hammond matches.

And yesterday's 37-29 Class 1A-2A dual meet regional championship over Lackey at Hammond was no exception.

After Hansel Henry clinched the championship for Hammond with his 14-5 major decision at 171 pounds over Lackey's Cecil McPherson, the tears flowed.

It was the senior's first regional team title. The Bears didn't qualify for the dual meet regional last season, and lost to Damascus in the finals the season before that.

Hammond's last regional title was a regional tournament championship in 1990 -- when Henry was still in middle school.

"I started crying after my match because we've all put in a lot of work, and to finally see results means a whole lot," Henry said. "It was a touching moment."

It was a day of double celebration for Henry (20-2). Earlier in the day he became an uncle for the first time, when his sister delivered a 10-pound, 4-ounce baby boy. He proudly displayed a blue bubble-gum cigar.

Seventh-ranked Hammond (14-0) put the match almost out of reach by winning six of the first seven matches, five by pins.

Freshman Vaymond Dennis (19-5) had a particularly sweet night at 103 pounds, when he pinned Peter Lee in 4:40.

"He had beaten me two times this season, once on a tech fall," Dennis said. "But I've gotten better."

Lackey coach Glenn Jones decided to duck another of Hammond's four starting freshmen, 112-pound Jared Zillmer, by moving one of his better wrestlers, Jacob Kirby, to 119. But the move didn't pay off.

Zillmer (20-2) pinned Patrick Howard in 1:42, and junior Tony Tan produced an 6-4 upset of Kirby, scoring a reversal with 14 seconds left in the match.

"I was especially pleased with Vaymond and Tony," Bears coach Jeff Starnes said. "Tony's match was a must-win for Lackey."

Three seniors, Jan Grothe at 130, Mike Loula at 135 and Josh Zillmer at 140, all produced pins to build a 33-6 lead that overwhelmed Lackey (12-3).

"This match was a testament to the Hammond kids who showed they really wanted to win," Jones said.

In the semifinal match, Hammond defeated Central, 51-16.

Dennis (103), Jared Zillmer (119), Grothe (135), Adam Clark (145), Tony Dakis (152) and Henry (189) all earned pins, and David Britz (112) and Matt Nelson (HW) won by forfeit.

"Our guys were hungry and wrestled well tonight," Starnes said. "I'm proud of them. We put a lot of emotion into our program, and to see it come to a head is great. But we still have a long way to go."

The Bears move on to the state dual meet championship Saturday at Howard High.

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