6 defending titles in county tourney Wrestling: Highlights abound in the Howard championships, which are being contested today at Hammond. Can Zilmer and Lignelli make it four titles in four years? Can three other wrestlers stay unbeaten? And more.

February 21, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

When the 28th annual county wrestling tournament begins at Hammond today, six 1996 champions will defend their individual titles, and defending team champion Hammond will seek its fourth title in five seasons.

In addition, Josh Zillmer of Hammond and Jeremy Lignelli of Glenelg will try to join an elite list of just three other wrestlers who have won four county titles.

Other highlights will include two Glenelg wrestlers and one Howard wrestler trying to continue their unbeaten seasons. And Wilde Lake coach Rich Jackson, who is retiring from coaching after 26 seasons, will be honored by his peers.

Zillmer, who is 28-1 with 17 pins, is top-seeded at 142 pounds. His top competition will come from James Thomas (20-5) of Mount Hebron.

Lignelli, a defending Class 1A-2A state champion, is 24-1 and appears to be a heavy favorite at 162 pounds, unless second-seeded Tony Dakis (4-1) of Hammond can pull an upset.

Two of Lignelli's teammates are unbeaten. Jimmy O'Connor at 137 pounds is 23-0. Matt Stevens (17-8) of Wilde Lake is second-seeded, but Hammond's Mark Read (17-4) is a fifth-seeded dark horse. And Glenelg's Kevin Ferguson is 21-0 at 173 pounds and has beaten Howard's second-seeded Joel Hegg twice.

Heavyweight Brian Neal of Howard, who is 24-0 with a county-high 21 pins, may be slowed by a knee injury and must defeat second-seeded Aaron Perkins (16-2) of Centennial for the third time to claim a title.

Neal, Lignelli, Zillmer, O'Connor and Hammond's Vaymond Dennis (114 pounds) and Jared Zillmer (121 pounds) are the six defending champions.

Dennis (24-8) must beat out Long Reach's second-seeded J. C. Porter (19-3). The two have split two meetings this season.

Zillmer (27-1), who has 16 pins, finished third in the state last season. He hasn't wrestled second-seeded Kevin Sutton (18-4) of Oakland Mills.

The tournament will feature several other competitive weight classes.

At 105 pounds, Howard's Kapil Bhanot (22-4) is top-seeded. He defeated second-seeded Derek Dauberman (22-3) of River Hill but split matches against third-seeded Joe Stevens (23-6) of Hammond.

Chris Naylor (20-8) of Oakland Mills, a county champ in 1995, but upset by O'Connor last season, tries for his second title, needing to defeat second-seeded Scott Osborn (25-3) of Hammond at 127 pounds. Third-seeded Billy Allen (17-6) of River Hill and fourth-seeded Elliott Lipple (18-8) of Atholton make this one of the toughest weight classes.

The 147-pound class is also extremely competitive. Top-seeded Wade Zancan ( 21-5) of Atholton must defeat former teammate and second-seeded Tim McGrail (24-6) of Hammond. They have not wrestled. McGrail has dropped a weight class. Third-seeded Brandon Finney (17-6) of Wilde Lake and fourth-seeded Tony Cormadella (17-8) of Centennial hope for upsets.

Top-seeded Matt McFadden (21-4) of Atholton and second-seeded Adam Clark (21-8) of Hammond should produce a good match. Clark wrestled half of the season at 140 pounds.

Two Oakland Mills wrestlers are changing weight classes in hopes of winning titles. John Nguyen (22-3) drops from 140 pounds to 132 pounds to face second-seeded Billy Loeffler (18-7) of Atholton.

And Oakland Mills' Bryan Frizzelle (17-11) moves up to 191 as top seed, with Centennial's Justin Rix (17-7) as second seed. Glenelg's Dave Ferguson (15-4), a late entry, returns from a shoulder injury and could upset if healthy.

Pub Date: 2/21/97

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