Key collects its third straight region title

February 25, 1996|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

HAGERSTOWN -- Late this season, the Francis Scott Key Eagles have seemed to take one tough blow after the other. Impressively, they've appeared unfazed.

The No. 3 Eagles won their third straight Class 1A-2A West region title last night at North Hagerstown, sending four wrestlers to the finals and coming away with three champions to defeat runner-up Smithsburg by a 129-114 margin.

The Eagles were without 171-pounder Ryan Roach, who was in a car accident on Tuesday and remains in the hospital with an injured vertebrae.

"He's doing well," said Francis Scott Key coach Bill Hyson.

"As important as [the regional tournament] is, this really opens your eyes as to what life is all about."

Senior co-captains Jason Hooper and Ryan Etzler -- both seeded first in their weight classes -- came up with their usual steady performances.

At 125, Hooper (28-4) came away with an 8-1 decision over Northern-Garrett's Kane Staley, who all through the match tried his best to stay away from Hooper.

Etzler (29-3) followed at 130 with an 11-0 major decision over Urbana's Steve Chucoski.

It was the second straight region title for Etzler, who won his second county title last week.

He said there was "one thing left to do," looking ahead to next weekend's state tournament at Western Maryland College.

Both had Roach on their minds.

"Ryan has been a big part of this team and has made such a big contribution," Hooper said. "He really deserved to be here today so it will be nice to take this home to him."

The Eagles got a pleasant surprise from sophomore Mark Mandell, who won the region at 103 seeded third.

Mandell, who transferred to Key from Northeast this year, won a 3-1 decision over Northern-Garrett's Jess Shimrock.

"I wasn't expected to be here so I just went out there and wrestled my best," Mandell said. "He beat me 8-6 in the regional dual meet so this time I got the early takedown and just kept going hard. It's exciting going to states in my sophomore year."

The Eagles will send two more wrestlers to the state meet with Bobby Bollinger advancing at 189 with a second-place finish.

He reached the finals before getting pinned by Williamsport's Jimi Massey. Jordan Chiaruttini also qualified after winning the consolation round to take third.

Tony Cahoon (152), Billy Null (135) and Brett Cowan 160) are alternates. Should any of the top four wrestlers in the region who qualified at their weight classes be unable to compete next weekend, they would advance.

"All things considered when you look at all the setbacks, you have to be pleased. We would have liked to have qualified a few more wrestlers," Hyson said.

"Overall this season, we had a lot of kids who were inexperienced at the start and finished the season strong. To come in here and be down to 11 wrestlers and win a pretty good region, I'm pleased with that."

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