Liberty wrestlers continue resurgence Carroll Notebook

January 21, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

The way Carroll County wrestling has gone this winter, it has been easy to overlook the efforts of Liberty's wrestlers and their first-year coach, Mike Flemming.

After all, the perennial powers are having strong seasons again, as South Carroll and Westminster are undefeated in dual competition; Francis Scott Key is 7-2, and placed first in its tournament last month; and North Carroll is 5-2, having lost to No. 10 Old Mill (7-1) and Southern-Anne Arundel (12-2).

A year ago, Liberty was 7-6-1 with a very young team, and now, still with only two seniors, the Lions are 8-7-1 halfway through the year.

"I'm impressed with what they're doing," said Flemming, who previously had served three years as an assistant to Jeff Hash. In the team's latest outing, junior Mark Richard (127 pounds), sophomore Jesse Stank (132), and senior co-captain Mike Saylor (173) won individual titles, three others placed, and the team finished seventh out of 17.

"We're solid at the top, strong through the middle, and improving in the lower weights," Flemming said.

Freshman filled the gaps in the lower weights, and the coach pointed out: "The satisfaction, particularly when you have a young team, is watching the new wrestlers improve. For instance, Mike Haran (103) pinned both his opponents in a recent double-dual meet. They were his first pins and got us started toward winning both matches. Zach Egolf (112) and Josh Wampler (119) are also freshmen, and Wampler had a good tournament, going 3-2 and placing seventh."

Saylor (19-5) is at the other end of the team spectrum, and Flemming says the fact the senior is in his fourth season is "a huge bonus for the program."

With that kind of experience and leadership, the coach is hopeful the current freshmen on the team will be around for four years.

They already have shown the commitment and work ethic the sport demands and Flemming has noted their interest. "We have a lot of night practices, and some of the younger ones come early, hang out, and watch wrestling tapes."

Discipline is another important part of the picture.

"From the 37 wrestlers we started with, we're down to 22," Flemming said. "You can find students who want to come out when you're winning, but once there is the challenge of adversity, and they see what they have to do -- how they have to push themselves -- they quit.

"The beauty of the sport is that once on the mat, you can't blame somebody else. You win or you lose. A lot of kids don't have that drive."

Aside from Saylor, Stanik (23-1), and Richard, Flemming has received good performances from senior James Haran (17-9 at 135), Scott Carter (11-7 at 145), Richard Skelly (152), a sophomore around .500, and senior Josh Brandt (189), a first-year wrestler.

Flemming is from Pennsylvania, but a county resident since graduating from Western Maryland.

Along the way, the first-year coach is striving to build school spirit in general, and team spirit in particular.

An English teacher, he has been encouraging his students to come to the wrestling matches, and he tells his athletes they ought to support the other athletic programs.

Mat action

The county's other four wrestling teams will be working tonight, with F.S. Key at South Carroll and Westminster at North Carroll. Rounding out the week, Liberty will be at Frederick tomorrow night, and North Carroll will participate in the South Hagerstown tournament Friday and Saturday.

Basketball tossup

An interesting boys game on Friday will have Westminster, 8-4 before last night's county opener against North Carroll, at South Carroll (6-4). The latter was 2-0 with wins over Liberty and North Carroll before playing at Frederick last night.

In the Central Maryland Conference, once again dominated by the Frederick County teams, South Carroll is 3-1, Westminster 2-2, North Carroll 1-3, and Liberty 0-4.

Western Maryland

Erin Murphey (F.S. Key) recently became the seventh women's basketball player to score more than 1,000 points. She has 1,013, and needs 15 to supplant current Westminster coach Sue Head Conklin in sixth place. In the team's last three games, freshman Jill Ibex (Westminster) came off the bench to total 35 points, 17 rebounds, and four blocks.

In wrestling, the team (13-7) is on a five-meet winning streak going into Saturday's home meet with Wilkes. Charlie Conaway has seven straight wins, five of them pins, at 158, and Rodney Stine has won eight of his last nine matches to take the team lead in wins with 23. Stine leads the team in falls with 12.

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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