Arundel asserts itself, rolls over regional field 3 Wildcats collect titles in outpointing Old Mill

Class 3A-4A wrestling

March 01, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

It looks like No. 6 Arundel may want the final say.

After banging heads with county rival Old Mill all season and finishing a close second best, the Wildcats made a statement last night when they captured the Class 3A-4A East region championship at Meade High School.

Sending six wrestlers to the finals and coming away with three region champs, the Wildcats outpointed runner-up Old Mill, 160.5-145, with Severna Park (110.5) taking third in the 18-team field.

Arundel qualified eight wrestlers for next weekend's state tournament at Western Maryland College, while fifth-ranked Old Mill had seven finish in the top four yesterday to advance.

The Wildcats finally had their turn in the spotlight this season, but they didn't mind sharing it. That's because Meade junior Matt Pandullo came away with an emotional, 3-2 decision over Old Mill's Chris Combs at 112 pounds.

Pandullo (28-2) was 0-13 against Combs dating back to the seventh grade -- including five losses in high school.

A takedown late in the first period gave Pandullo a 2-0 lead, but Combs tied the match in the second on a reversal. With Combs on top to start the third, Pandullo was able to get an escape with 1: 07 left and held on the rest of the way.

"This is like my dream. He's been beating me since the seventh grade," said Pandullo. "I wasn't sure [about the escape] until the referee told me I was out. I was like 'Oh my God, I wrapped it up.' I knew I wasn't going to give up a takedown. I'll see him again in the state final and cut it to 11."

Arundel got titles from Pat Ortman (27-4) and Rob Connolly (30-0) before closing out on a high note with heavyweight Jeff Blachly avenging three prior one-point losses to Northeast's James Taylor -- the last coming in last weekend's county championship.

This time, it was Blachly (18-3) taking control to earn an 8-4 decision.

"I didn't wrestle that well last week and coach [Buddy Hepfer] said to let it go," said Blachly, who improved to 18-3 on the season.

L Blachly wasn't the only one to "let it go" for the Wildcats.

Connolly, ranked first in the state at 160, improved to 30-0 with a 7-1 decision over Chesapeake's Keath Puller. Ortman (27-4) was a 7-3 winner over Northeast's Bobby Couch at 119, and Steve Banvard (140), Brian Schroeder (125) and Graham Harris (145) had strong tournaments each taking seconds.

"This is the time when you want to pour it on -- region and states," said Connolly. "All you need is one more good weekend and you're state champs. We're going to work hard in practice this week and then Friday it's all business. The state tournament NTC has been around forever and it will be sweet if we can bring it home for coach Hepfer."

Old Mill -- regular-season, county tournament and dual-meet state champs -- will certainly have a say along with some other teams.

The Patriots' only region championship came from Rich Sampson -- an 8-0 major decision over Ed Kempa at 135 -- but they'll look to return to form next weekend.

"A lot of [Hepfer's] kids came through and did a nice job. We didn't have a chance," said Old Mill coach Mike Hampe. "We were a little sluggish, but we'll correct it for states. Everything we do throughout the season prepares us for next weekend."

Said Sampson: "Basically, this just lets us know [Arundel] is still there. We respect them and it will be a battle at states. We're looking forward to it. It's more fun that way."

Pub Date: 3/01/98

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