1996-97 All-Howard County wrestling teams

March 11, 1997|By Rick Belz

Wrestlers of the Year

Jeremy Lignelli, Glenelg, Sr., 160 pounds (36-1): Glenelg's first state champ a year ago, Lignelli became the sixth county wrestler to win at least two state titles and the fifth to win four county titles. Lignelli also won three regional titles, four Chopticon tournament titles and two Francis Scott Key tournament titles. His only loss in two years came in the final of the Hammond tournament to Curley's Sal Aquia. Lignelli's career record is 127-9, and he set the county record for most career wins, breaking the old mark of 123 held by Adam Seidman of Oakland Mills. In the past three seasons, Lignelli's record is 102-3. "Jeremy stayed focused on his big matches and perfected what works for him. He's an athlete and tough to take down and score on," Glenelg coach Matt Nagle said. This is Lignelli's second selection as Wrestler of the Year.

Jimmy O'Connor, Glenelg, Jr., 135 (32-0): Accomplishing that rarest of feats -- winning a state championship with an unbeaten record -- was a goal that O'Connor set after he watched teammate Lignelli do it last season. "I watched Jeremy's work habits and did the same things," O'Connor said. "He was a good role model." O'Connor won six tournament championships this season -- Chopticon, Francis Scott Key, Hammond, Howard County, Class 1A-2A South Region and Class 1A-2A state. He said the match that set the pace and boosted his confidence was against Curley's Paul Boettcher in the Hammond tourney. Said Glenelg coach Matt Nagle: "He's the whole package. He has the moves and the balance, but he also has the intensity, and that third one is what made him state champ."

Coaches of the Year

Jeff Starnes and Bill Smith, Hammond: These co-coaches kept Hammond atop Howard County for another year. The Bears, unbeaten in county dual meets for the second straight season, ** have won 16 straight county dual meets. They've also won four of the past five county tournaments. Hammond went 15-2 in dual meets, losing twice to state Class 1A-2A champion Lackey. It finished second to Lackey at the regional tournament, and fourth at the state tournament -- an improvement from eighth the year before. Hammond holds the distinction of being the only team to defeat Lackey this season -- at Lackey's own tournament. The Bears also won the Magruder tourney, but lost their own tourney -- to Lackey. This year's team had six wrestlers with 30 or more wins and 12 wrestlers with 20 or more wins. Hammond's 923 team takedowns, 174 pins and 380 individual wins all were team records. The Bears averaged 50 points in dual meets and allowed 10 points. The team graduates three seniors, but five sophomores return. Starnes has coached at Hammond 10 years, Smith for 12 years. Together they have built the Bears' program into what can now be called a county dynasty. Hammond is 104-33-2 over the past 10 years.

First team at a glance

Derek Dauberman, River Hill, Fr., 103 (30-6): The only freshman to win a county title this season, Dauberman is River's Hill's first county champ and first all-county wrestling team member. He went on to finish second in the region, and then won three of his five matches at the states.

Kevin Ferguson, Glenelg, Sr., 171 (31-3): He won the county championship, finished third at the region tournament and fourth at the state tournament. He lost his state semifinal match with one second left in the second overtime on a controversial call. Ferguson also won titles at the Chopticon and Francis Scott Key tournaments.

David Ferguson, Glenelg, Sr., 189 (21-5): Despite several injuries, and despite weighing only 175 pounds in a 189-pound class, Ferguson finished second in the county and region tournaments and third at the states, where he won two of three overtime matches. And he lost the county title on a controversial call in overtime.

Bryan Frizzelle, Oakland Mills, Sr., 189 (24-14): He won when it counted -- a 4-3, double-overtime victory in the county final against David Ferguson of Glenelg. And Frizzelle finished third at the regional tournament, winning a tough consolation final against Lackey's Jason Kassiris, 3-1.

Matt MacFadden, Atholton, Sr., 152 (31-5): MacFadden, a transfer, won county and region titles and finished third in the state tournament. He won four of five state matches, losing only to Steve Kessler, a four-time state champion who completed an unbeaten career.

Tim McGrail, Hammond, Sr., 145 (32-11): The county champion pinned 18 opponents, finished fourth in the region and fourth in the state. His county title came in one of the toughest weight classes against Atholton's Wade Zancan and Wilde Lake's Brandon Finney.

Chris Naylor, Oakland Mills, Sr., 125 (29-10): Won county and region championships in a highly competitive weight class, but lost two of three matches at the states. The three-time all-county first-team pick and two-time county champ was 83-28 over three seasons.

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