'Average' Hammond works its way up Golden Bears show heart, win sixth title of season

1A-2A Wrestling

March 08, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hammond coach Bill Smith and his wrestlers heard the whispers throughout the season. Even though the Golden Bears kept racking up victories, the believers were slow to fall in line.

"People at the regionals were saying that we were a group of average wrestlers," said Smith. "We are, but we're just a group of average wrestlers that prepare real well and train real hard."

There probably are a few more believers today. Vaymond Dennis (112 pounds) won an individual Class 1A-2A championship while Matt Nelson and Scott Osborn took second to help No. 3-ranked Hammond score its first state title last night at Western Maryland College.

The Golden Bears now have won six titles this season, taking the county, region and state crowns both in the open and dual-meet tournaments.

Smith said his team just concentrates on working hard and being prepared for matches. Hammond was prepared this weekend, finished with 93.5 points, edging Williamsport (83). Oakland Mills placed sixth with 61.

"We're not flashy," said Smith. "We just stay with the basics and go six minutes."

Osborn (130), a team captain who lost to Jimmy Warnick of Northern-Garrett in their state title match, said the team had a point to prove at the state meet. "It motivated us," said Osborn, who suffered an 8-2 loss to Warnick. "If our talent is just average, then our hearts are above average."

Dennis (39-5) gave his opponents little chance to do much this weekend. He scored a technical fall, a pin and then edged Jacob Kirwan of Kent County, 12-10, in the semifinal.

Dennis then topped Howard County rival Derek Dauberman of River Hill, 14-6 to become the school's first undergraduate state champion. The Hammond wrestler broke the match open in the second period and cruised to victory. This was Dennis' fourth win over Dauberman this season.

"I just felt that I had to win, no matter what," said Dennis.

Nelson, meanwhile, came close. Rising Sun's Ben Brand edged the Hammond heavyweight, 3-1, in the final match with a third-period takedown.

Glenelg's Jimmy O'Connor (145) won his second straight state title with a 4-0 shutout of Joe Burger of Williamsport. O'Connor finished 33-1 this season after winning at 135 last year.

Another Howard County wrestler made a memorable debut at the state meet. Sophomore Brandon Lauer (103) of River Hill finished his perfect season in the perfect way, topping Eric Kuczynski of Williamsport, 19-7, in the title match.

Lauer finished with a 34-0 record this year. He scored a first-period pin, a 13-0 shutout and a 10-6 decision en route to the title match, one he dominated from the start.

"I knew that as long as I wrestled to my potential I could do it," said Lauer. "Overall, I wrestled very well."

Matt Yinger (135) of Francis Scott Key also wrestled well, finishing his undefeated season by taking his first state title with a pin over Jesse Shimrock from Northern-Garrett at 5: 06. Yinger ended with a 28-0 record, scoring four strong victories in this tournament.

Terry Lawson (171) from Overlea took home his first state title with a 9-5 decision over Robert Bowman of Beall. Lawson, who finished second in the state last year, is the first champion under Overlea coach Bruce Malinowski.

Malinowski won state titles for Kenwood in 1977 and 1979, and Lawson is Overlea's first individual champion since Kevin Heid seven years ago.

Dunbar's Dennis Perry (140) tried to become the first Baltimore City wrestler to take a state title, but fell a little short as Seth Staley of North Hagerstown scored a 6-3 decision.

Perry (28-1) fell behind early and was down 6-2 after two periods. He was in control throughout the third, but Staley held his ground and allowed just the one point. Perry was the fifth Dunbar wrestler to reach the finals, but all have finished second.

Reuben Kraft (189, 25-5) of North Harford took second. Keith Norman from Perryville edged Kraft, 5-4, with a takedown in the final 30 seconds. Kraft also finished second in the county and region meets.

Nick Alley (31-3 at 112) of Southern-AA, a champion last year at 103, did not compete due to an off the mat incident.

Pub Date: 3/08/98

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