INDIAN HEAD -- Last night's Class 1A-2A South Region duals title match at Lackey, ranked No. 4 in the state, was the Charles County school's fourth meeting with Hammond, ranked No. 5 in the state.
But the visiting Bears (15-1), ranked No. 3 in The Sun, hadn't seen Lackey like this: From 140 down, every wrestler dropped a weight class.
Lackey (15-1) kept the bouts close in those low weight classes, then took advantage up top in a 39-17 victory that prevented the Columbia school (15-2) from defending its duals title and sent the Chargers to Saturday's dual-meet championships at North Carroll.
Lackey, the No. 1 seed, will face No. 4 Francis Scott Key (13-3). No. 2 Owings Mills (15-1) meets No. 3 seed Rising Sun (15-1).
Lackey, which split regular season tournament victories with Hammond and won the regular-season dual meet, clinched the match, 24-17, with two bouts left. The Bears won just four bouts.
Lackey's No. 6 Steve Gilligan (160, 25-2) broke a 4-4 tie against Tim McGrail with his 21st fall of the year, and teammate Cecil McPherson (171) decked Tony Dakis (4-1, three pins). Jason Kassiris (189) and No. 6 Josue Leon (heavyweight) then won by decision and pin respectively.
"They wrestled unbelievably and kicked our butts," said Hammond co-coach Jeff Starnes.
The score was 6-6 after four bouts. Peter Lee (103) edged Hammond's Joe Stevens, 8-3, and teammate Jacob Kirby (112) hung on for a 13-11 decision over Howard County champ Vaymond Dennis after leading, 9-3.
But Hammond's No. 3 Jared Zillmer (119, 27-1) won a hard one, 7-3, over Lackey's Patrick Howard, and teammate Scott Osborn (125) scored a reversal with 48 seconds left to edge Scott Blackburn, 2-1.
But it was 15-6, Lackey, after Chris Robertson (130) ended a tight bout with his buzzer-beating pin of Mick Carbo, and Andrew Kmieciak (135) countered Danny Embrey for an overtime takedown and a 6-4 decision.
Hammond rebounded for a 17-15 lead on a technical fall by Mark Read (140) and a fall by No. 4 Josh Zillmer (145, 28-1), a three-time Howard County champ, but Lackey regained it permanently, 18-17, on a major decision by Luke Hannah (152).
A highlight of Hammond's 49-16 semifinal victory over Wheaton (10-5) yesterday featured the Knights' (8-3) top-ranked, two-time state champ Scott Munsey (140, 23-1, 18 pins) winning, 8-2, over the Bears' Josh Zillmer, a three-time Howard County champ. Munsey is ranked No. 8 nationally in the most recent USA Wrestling magazine.
Lackey trounced Oakland Mills (10-5) by 51-16, with only John Nguyen (130, 20-3), Chris Naylor (125), Alan Lederman (135) and Bryan Frizzelle (171) winning for the Scorpions.