The Annapolis wrestling team's hopes drew another validation last night.
The ninth-ranked Panthers, a preseason contender for the Anne Arundel County championship, solidified their footing by having five wrestlers crowned champions at the third annual Ed Peery Invitational at Annapolis Area Christian.
Annapolis, which easily outpaced runner-up Broadneck by a 202.5-149 margin, also earned three second-place and one third-place finish.
"It's a team effort," said Panthers coach Tom Sfakiyanudis. "They work hard for each other, and when everybody's on the same page, you get this kind of result."
Senior Paul Macknis, one of Annapolis' five titlists, said the team -- which doesn't feature a superstar -- is confident in its collective strength.
"Everybody on the team works hard in practice and is ready to wrestle," said Macknis, who improved to 5-0 after he scored an 11-3 major decision against Grey Campbell of Broadneck. "We're ready to win counties."
Besides Macknis, the Panthers received championship outings from junior Brett Cherba, who pinned Zach Bateman of Loyola at the 3:18 mark at 119 pounds; sophomore Ben Graham, who blanked Reed Preece of Broadneck, 11-0, at 125; senior Bill Vollono, who won by disqualification at 140; and senior Jack Dawson, who edged Joe Fold of Northeast, 6-5, at 189.
Vollono's victory was perhaps the most unconventional as he benefitted from an unusual disqualification with 35 seconds left in the first period of his match against Mike Dowling of Southern-AA.
Armed with a 2-0 lead, Vollono shot and grabbed Dowling's leg. Dowling suddenly attempted two wild uppercuts that missed Vollono, but did not escape the attention of the referee, who immediately disqualified Dowling.
"I guess he got a little frustrated," Vollono said of his opponent, who was stripped of his silver medal and forfeited the 16 points he had earned for the Bulldogs. "I would've continued the match if the referee had let me because that would've given me an incentive to crush him."
Northeast finished third with 149 points courtesy of championship wins from junior Chris Dyke, who shut out Matt Barrett of Southern, 6-0, at 145 and senior Joe Brockmeyer, who pinned Matt Cawdill of Broadneck in 16 seconds.
Loyola placed fourth with 125 points and also had two titlists in senior Brendan Boyle, who decked Andrew Smith of Annapolis at the 4:27 mark at 130, and junior Eric Keller, who reversed Joe Mihoces of Annapolis in the waning seconds of their 152-pound bout to win, 6-4.
Southern, which finished fifth with 121 points, was paced by junior David Thornton, who pinned Justin Fisher of Cardinal Gibbons at the 3:16 mark of their 112-pound match to claim his third crown at the tournament.
"It's huge," said Thornton, who was named by the coaches as the invitational's most outstanding wrestler. "My ultimate goal is to come back here and win it again."
Annapolis Area Christian placed sixth with 103 points courtesy of titles from junior Justin Pavlischek, who defeated Chili Orme of Southern, 4-1, at 135, and senior Ricky Powell, who held off Tim Baker of Annapolis, 9-7, at 160.
Cardinal Gibbons finished seventh with 52.5 points and crowned an individual champ in sophomore Brett Harrison, who defeated Geoff Clark-Ames of Northeast, 8-5, at 103.
Pallotti was eighth with 46 points, St. Mary's ninth with 34.5, Glen Burnie 10th with 26, and Archbishop Spalding 11th with 18.