Hammond aims for sweep of wrestling championships Led by Henry and Zillmer Bears send eight to states

March 01, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Will Hammond prove to be as strong a tournament wrestling team as it was a dual-meet team?

The Bears hope so. The state tournament begins today and this season's state Class 1A-2A dual-meet champions hope to make it a clean sweep of state titles.

But Owings Mills, Lackey and Francis Scott Key will have a lot to say about it.

No. 2-ranked Hammond beat Francis Scott Key head-to-head for the dual-meet championship after Key had beaten then No. 1-ranked Owings Mills in the semifinals. The Bears finished second to Lackey in the South regional tournament.

Lackey sends 11 to states and Owings Mills sends 12.

A lot will depend on the ability of senior Hansel Henry (171) and freshman Jared Zillmer (112) to win state titles. If they go all the way, that's 50 points for Hammond and should put the Bears in the hunt.

That would leave the rest up to six other Hammond wrestlers: Vaymond Dennis (103), Steve Osborn (125), Jan Grothe (130), Mike Loula (135), Adam Clark (140) and Tony Dakis (145).

"Hansel and Jared have legitimate shots [at state titles] the way they are wrestling," Hammond coach Jeff Starnes said. "Jared pinned his way through regionals and Hansel had a tech fall in the finals."

Zillmer is 32-2 and set a school record with 30 pins. Henry is 30-3.

Both wrestlers should face their toughest matches in the semifinals, with Henry, a two-time county champ, likely to face Willie Broadnax of Owings Mills, and Zillmer likely to meet last season's state runner-up Dave Blake (33-1) of Kent.

"Others should score for us, although Grothe and Loula face tough roads," Starnes said.

Loula must wrestle Cris Deitrich (28-0) of Smithsburg in the first round.

Starnes is hopeful that Dennis can win his opening-round match against Owings Mills opponent Eric Walder. "We just hope the points get spread out enough so that it stays close," Starnes said.

Hammond will miss one of its top wrestlers, three-time county champion Josh Zillmer, who will undergo shoulder surgery Monday.

"We are just aiming to finish in the top five and from there, whatever happens, happens," Starnes said.

Another wrestler with a legitimate shot at winning a state title in Class 1A-2A is Glenelg's Jeremy Lignelli (152) who is 29-0.

Lignelli, a three-time county champ, won five tournaments this season, including county and region, and drew a good bracket for states.

Others who will compete in the 1A-2A competition include: Oakland Mills' Chris Naylor (119), John Nguyen (135) and Justin Robbins (125); Glenelg's Dave Ferguson (160), Jimmy O'Connor (119) and Tim Monroe (171); Wilde Lake's Alex Hernandez (135) and Matt Shannon (140).

In the 3A-4A competition, North regional runner-up Centennial will send the largest county contingent of six wrestlers.

Heading the Eagles' list is defending state champion Joon Kim (189) who is 21-2.

Another senior, Lance Rhodes (119), also hopes to be in the hunt for a state title after taking a regional crown. He is 20-2.

Senior Matt Augustin (145) finished second in the region, and is Centennial's next-best hope. Sophomore Billy Allen (112) and seniors Robert Rix (152) and Aaron Perkins (275) all finished third at regionals.

Howard placed four wrestlers in states led by regional champ Brian Neal, a senior who is 25-1 with 19 pins and a top state title contender.

Senior Chris Poling (160) finished second at regions for the Lions and has a legitimate shot at a state title. Seniors P. J. Dameron (119) and Ken Neal (189) earned state slots with fourth-place regional finishes.

An injury in regionals forced Howard's Frank Tortella to forfeit, so he didn't qualify for states where he would have been a title contender.

Atholton sends four to states, junior Tim McGrail (152) who finished second in regionals, sophomore Shawn O'Haragan (119) who was second, sophomore Wade Zancan who finished third and junior Paul McElhenny (275) who was fourth.

Mount Hebron's lone state entrant is senior Quint Lears (125) who was fourth at regionals.

Howard County is sending 32 wrestlers to states, including 15 seniors, nine juniors, six sophomores and two freshmen.

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