1996 All-Metro wrestling teams

March 17, 1996

Wrestler of Year

J. R. Plienis, McDonogh, Sr., Heavyweight (31-0): Plienis (235 pounds), a three-time All-Metro ranked No. 2 nationally, overcame career-threatening knee surgery to nail a school-record 25 first-period pins.

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. Of Plienis' other wins, two were by forfeit and one by default.

Bound for No. 2 Nebraska, Plienis (122-11 career), whose signature move is the headlock, is 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 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.

Coach of the year

Jeff Starnes, Hammond: In a season of firsts that included their first undefeated season (16-0) and first dual-meet Class 1A-2A state championship, the Bears under Starnes and assistant Bill Smith were a team of positive spirit and chemistry.

Hammond won county, region and state dual-meet titles, as well as the county tournament title. It finished second in the region tournament.

"Our goal was to wrestle well on our feet, score a lot with takedowns, and be in better physical shape than anyone else," Starnes said.

Starnes prepared the team well physically and emotionally, and did his homework in juggling lineups. His Bears also hosted their first annual tournament, allowing several junior varsity wrestlers of quality to enter as a separate varsity team against the starters and opponents from around the state.

Hammond's 670 team takedowns broke the school record of 530; the 166 teams pins broke the mark of 146; 340 winning

bouts broke the mark of 310. This was the ninth season for Starnes, who is 89-31-2 in dual meets.

Hammond's only other title beyond the county titles of 1993 and 1994 were in 1990, when it won the region tournament.

The first team

Mike Chenoweth, South Carroll, Sr., 171 (31-0): Carroll County's repeat Wrestler of the Year became only the second county wrestler to win three state titles, joining Westminster's Steve Hoff (1974-76). Ranked No. 1 in Maryland, Chenoweth capped the year with a 19-3 technical fall over Prince George's County champ Victor King (Crossland). Chenoweth (94-2 career, 69 pins) hasn't lost since an 8-7, early-season setback to last year's 3A-4A 171-pound state champ Adam Butts. His only other career loss came by a point to Northeast's Ron Katzenberger as a sophomore. He later pinned Butts for his first state crown.

Charlie Conaway, South Carroll, Sr., 160 (31-0): Conaway, ranked No. 2 in Mary land, scored a 6-4 decision over Douglass' county runner-up and region champ Frank Black-Glover for the 3A-4A state title. He also pinned then-No. 6 Jerry Phelps (Springbrook), beat Howard County champ Chris Poling (Howard), then ranked No. 5, and moved up to 171 to beat then-No. 4 Craig McIlvaine (Frederick), a county and region champ. Conaway went 31-4 last year and placed third in states.

Tyran Dungee, Mount St. Joseph, Sr., 160 (40-3): A two-time champion at MIAAs and the private school states, Dungee, ranked No. 1 in the state, had 26 pins, six technical falls and was third at National Preps. Dungee also pinned Gilman's 171-pound MIAA champ Kirk Caldroney in 57 seconds, and beat DeMatha's National Prep champion, Robert Alexander. He also won his second straight Curley Tournament and his first Annapolis Tournament.

Will Filbert, McDonogh, Soph., 103 (30-4): Filbert's junior league state runner-up finish as a ninth-grader was followed up with several quality victories, including 3-2 over Class 1A-2A state champion Luke Garvin (Rising Sun). Ranked No. 3 in Maryland, Filbert (12 pins) won tournaments at McDonogh, Smithsburg, MIAAs and private school states, and was fourth at the Delaware Mid-Atlantics. He twice avenged his lone loss in Maryland, to Calvert Hall's Chris Hanlon.

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