Eastern Tech gets a grip on title Mavericks edge out Dulaney

Kessler wins

February 23, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

After waiting in the dark for more than a half an hour because of a power failure, Eastern Tech turned out the lights on Owings Mills' bid to win a third straight Baltimore County wrestling tournament title last night at Franklin High.

Tech won its first tournament title since 1988 with 176 points. Dulaney was second with 171.5 points and favored Owings Mills was third with 170 in the tightest race since the 1969 tournament when Kenwood (60 points) squeaked by Overlea (58), Milford Mill (57) and Perry Hall (57).

The other historical event from yesterday's tournament was Owings Mills' Steve Kessler (152 pounds) winning by a technical fall over Milford Mill's Jumake Ajanku with 1: 27 left in the second period to become only the third wrestler ever to win four Baltimore County titles. Hereford's Robert Hough and Garry Harris, who wrestled at Owings Mills, Milford Mill and jTC Randallstown, were the others.

"I think this is a pretty nice accomplishment," said Kessler, undefeated as a schoolboy with a career mark of 141-0. "This puts me in some pretty good company."

Kessler breezed through the tournament with Ajanku the only opponent to make it into the second period.

"In the next couple of weeks, the competition is really going to increase," he said. "I came into this tournament like all the others. I wanted to be focused and work hard all the way through."

There wasn't a lot of other celebrating among the other Owings Mills wrestlers. It was Eastern Tech that took home the team plaque and celebrated with longtime coach Joe Gast. The Mavericks had three champions in Jamie Blankenship (189-pound class), Demetrios Gourgoulianis (119) and Hector Santana (160), while Jason Roberts was the runner-up at 135.

But the Mavericks won this championship with balance, and the victory didn't come until the final three heavyweight matches. Eastern's heavyweight Larry Jaski sealed at least a win for the Mavericks over Owings Mills by pinning Western Tech's Andy Riley in 4 minutes, 13 seconds, in the consolation finals. Nearly a minute later Owings Mills heavyweight Anthony Smith decisioned Dulaney's Ryan Frost, 3-1, in overtime to eliminate the Lions and seal the win for Eastern.

"I have never seen the tournament this close, going this far

down," said Gast. "This is a tribute to the kids. They wrestled tough all year and worked hard for this."

A key loss for Owings Mills in the championship round came in the 145 class when Patapsco's Mark Lasek used a half nelson to pin the Golden Eagles' Ari Dolid 55 seconds into the match. Dolid was 29-1 entering the tournament.

"It hurt," said Owings Mills coach Guy Pritzker. "Dolid had beaten him earlier. As a matter of fact, Dolid had not been turned on his back entering the match."

Five 1996 wrestlers repeated as champions. Besides Kessler, the group included Dundalk's Rich Reesey (112), Sparrow Point's Tom Free (125), Kenwood's Chuck Jones (130) and Smith. Jones defeated Dulaney's Matt Bulloch 19-7 to win the tournament's toughest division.

Pub Date: 2/23/97

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