Wrestler of the Year
Bryan Hamper, South Carroll: If there were two things that the 140-pound junior lacked last season, it was a degree of self-confidence and a reliable takedown. Hamper fixed that by entering this season with two takedowns and compiled a 32-1 mark with 23 pins on his way to capturing a state title. Hamper, who is fourth among the school's leaders in career wins with 92 and third in career pins with 60, is the reigning Arundel Holiday Tournament and Meade Tournament champion, and he earned his second straight regional title with two technical falls and a pin in the championship finals against previously undefeated Jason Laubach of Kenwood. At states, Hamper scored three pins -- the last one coming against Chopticon's Garret Black in the state final -- and a technical fall. Hamper was a unanimous choice for Wrestler of the Year honors among county coaches. "I think he's the most advanced, complete wrestler in the county," said Westminster coach Henry Mohlhenrich. Added Liberty coach Mike Flemming: "It's hard to improve when you're that good, but you can see the development."
Coach of the Year
Pete Olson, South Carroll: The results are impossible to ignore: a 12-2 dual-meet record, fourth in The Sun poll, a Class 4A-3A state and region champion in Bryan Hamper, a 4A-3A region champ in Dan Patterson, and eight state qualifiers. Olson, a White Plains, N.Y., native who wrestled at King's College, molded a young team into one of the most potent squads in the metropolitan area. Olson oversaw the development of freshman Everett Thrift (103 pounds) and sophomores Ron Lewis (112) and Jake Creech (heavyweight). He relished in the growth of sophomore Buddy Olson (119) -- who happens to be his son -- and juniors Josh Wampler (135) and Travis Mohlhenrich (152). And despite failing to earn a bid to the dual-meet regionals -- a turn of events that Olson himself called "disappointing" -- South Carroll fell three points short of challenging River Hill for the Class 4A-3A North regional crown. And the Cavaliers will lose just three seniors after this June.
The first team
Jon Burger, Westminster: The junior captured the county championship at 152 pounds on his way to finishing 17-8. A former Junior League state champ, Burger's 4-2 decision over Mohlhenrich helped the Owls upend South Carroll by a half-point for the school's fourth county tournament title in five seasons. Burger is considered by many to be one of the strongest wrestlers in the area.
Chris Currence, South Carroll: The 171-pound senior provided the emotional anchor for the youthful Cavaliers. Despite missing five dual meets at the start of the season, Currence ran up an 18-7 mark, including wins over Atholton's Mike Carbone and Eastern Tech's Lenny Swiger. The team captain won his second straight county crown and the Arundel Holiday Tournament, and placed fourth at the Hammond Invitational. He finished fourth at the regionals and was a state qualifier.
Ryan Dell, North Carroll: Beginning his wrestling career two years ago, the junior got off to a slow start. But he improved by season's end and avenged an earlier pin at the hands of Westminster junior Randy Green by decisioning Green, 3-1 in overtime, for the 189-pound title at the county tournament. Dell posted a 13-13 mark in his first season on the varsity level.
Greg Frech, Francis Scott Key: The most dominant heavyweight in Carroll County the past two seasons started wrestling in his freshman year. With seven losses this season, Frech collected 28 victories -- 22 of them by pin -- including wins over Towson's Boh Myers, Kent's Willie Leonard and Allegany's James Riggin. After successfully defending his county championship, Frech placed second at the Class 2A-1A West regionals and fifth at states.
Tyler Graham, North Carroll: Last season, Graham decided to wrestle at the Junior League level instead of wasting time on the JV squad. That decision proved wise as the 103-pound sophomore went undefeated in dual meets on his way to compiling a 26-5 record. Of his 26 wins, 19 have come by pin. Graham shut out Westminster's J. R. Landsman, 15-0, to win the county crown, finished fourth at the regionals and qualified for states.
Paul Hartman, Liberty: The 112-pound sophomore made his first season on the varsity squad a memorable one. Hartman racked up 18 wins against eight losses, registering victories over Atholton's Wes Lipple, Dulaney's Joe Pellegrini and Glenelg's Stephen Marshall. Hartman decisioned Lewis, 4-2, to grab the county championship and finished fifth at the regionals.
Kevin Henry, Westminster: Wrestling behind Burger and senior Gabe Wilson, Henry emerged from the JV squad to make waves at the 145-pound weight class. The senior capped a 19-8 season by shutting out Liberty senior Chris Risko, 15-0, for the county title. Henry, who placed sixth at the regionals, scored the biggest win of his career when he upset No. 2 seed Tony Hughes of Fallston in the first round of the regionals.