1996 All-Baltimore City, Baltimore County wrestling

March 13, 1996

Co-Coach of Year

Fred Bullock, Southwestern: Bullock's Sabers wrestled with their coach's trademark hard-nosed aggressiveness, led by two-time city champion Ronnie Powell, who also captured a region crown. The Sabers, who had just one senior, began the year slowly, losing dual meets to Patterson and Mervo. But the losses served as teaching vessels for Bullock, whose Sabers won the Wicomico, East Side and Baltimore City tournaments before being runner-up in the Class 3A-4A East Region behind Arundel, and in front of perennial powers such as Broadneck and Old Mill. Bullock had four city champions. "They came down here from the city and showed us how to wrestle," said Wicomico coach Bill Duck. "They were a tough bunch."

Co-Coach of Year

Guy Pritzker, Owings Mills: Pritzker has an unusual approach to coaching that promotes team and unity. He does not allow wrestle-offs and rarely allows weight loss. This year, Pritzker picked the right time to allow four wrestlers to drop weight. All four junior Ari Dolid (135), junior three-time state champion Steve Kessler (145) and seniors Shaun Andoll (160) and Willie Broadnax (171) reached the state finals. Broadnax, Kessler and Andoll won titles, and Dolid was a runner-up. At states, the four-time county and six-time region champion Eagles, with just four seniors, won their fourth crown by scoring a state-record 142.5 points, joining six-time Class 3A-4A champion Old Mill as the only Maryland programs to have won four titles. Billy Miller (112) and Drew Bowers (119) were fourth, and Nick Noelte (140) sixth. Owings Mills, which established the old points record of 125 in 1991, qualified a school-record 12 wrestlers for states, eight of whom will return to next year's team. The Eagles also beat No. 1 DeMatha, a three-time National Prep champion, in a dual meet.

Co-Wrestler of Year

Steve Kessler, Owings Mills, Jr., 145 (37-0): Kessler, ranked No. 1 in Maryland since his freshman season, improved his state-record winning streak to 109-0, with 45 career pins and 39 career technical falls. This year's mark was a single-season public school record, surpassing his previous total of 36 in each of the past two seasons. Kessler dealt with dropping weight for the first time this year, and was stronger, more fluid and technically sound in capturing his third county, region and 1A-2A state crowns. The phenom pinned nine opponents, including Gilman's John Holliday, who was third in the National Preps. Kessler scored 24 technical falls, including one over Dulaney's region champion, Scott Kopalchick. Kessler's two closest bouts were decisions of 9-2, and 7-0 over Overlea's region champion, Robin Watkins, who was third at states at 152. Of the last 11 bouts for Kessler, who saw ample time at 152, there were eight technical falls, two major decisions and a 49-second pin. In the state semifinals, he bounced Northeast's Anne Arundel County champion, T. R. Fleming by 9-0, and Southern of Garrett's No. 3 Nathan Rickman by 12-4.

Co-Wrestler of Year

J. R. Plienis, McDonogh, Sr., Hwt (31-0): Plienis (235 pounds), ranked No. 2 nationally, overcame near-career-ending knee surgery to nail a school-record 25 first-period pins, including Westlake's Class 3A-4A state runner-up John Chisolm (35-2). Only three opponents Beall's two-time Class 1A-2A champion Jason Swisher (a 5-3 loser), Mount St. Joseph's Ben Dyer (an 11-4 loser) and Blair Academy's Chris Denker (a 7-5 loser) went the distance with Plienis. Dyer and Denker later were pinned in the first period. Of Plienis' other wins, two were by forfeit and one by default. Bound for No. 2 Nebraska, Plienis (122-11 career) is believed to be the first Maryland wrestler to take advantage of the early signing period. He's a two-time private schools state champion and earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award at this year's Senior All-Star Wrestling Classic. Plienis also won the MIAA crown and his second straight National Preps title, the latter with a 28-second pin of Denker, ranked No. 6 in New Jersey, to earn the award for the Most Pins in the Shortest Amount of Time. He's the Eagles' first four-time champion at the McDonogh Tournament. "He's has more potential than any kid in Maryland to become an All-American," said Tom Gaylin, who has officiated the NCAA wrestling tournament the past four years.

The first team

Mike Boettcher, Curley, Soph., 130 (28-6): Boettcher (16 pins), ranked No. 6 in Maryland, displayed incredible concentration, as evidenced by identical 6-4 overtime victories against Mount St. Joseph's Erik Shafer in the title bouts of the MIAA and private school state tournaments. He also won the Aberdeen and Arundel tournaments, was second at the North East, and had a win over Anne Arundel County runner-up Adam Sayani (Arundel).

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