Wrestler Of The Year

March 25, 2002


Michael Duffy

Mount Hebron

The team slogan, "History was written by the winners," is a quote by Alex Haley, and fifth-year coach Michael Duffy used it to take the Vikings where no Vikings' wrestlers had gone before.

En route to a school and county record-tying mark of 18-0, the third-ranked Vikings - only 1-8 in Duffy's initial season - captured their first county, region and 4A-3A state dual meet crowns, along with the school's first 4A-3A regional tournament title. Hammond went 18-0 in 1998. With only four wrestlers who competed prior to high school, Duffy relied on asistants Josh Pruett, Brian Neal and Jim Mengel to employ a strict training regimen that led to a relatively injury-free season. Mount Hebron outscored its dual meet opponents by an average of 55-10, establishing state records for total points scored (992) and least points allowed (178).

Wins at the Magruder and Arundel tournaments - the latter over two-time private schools champ Archbishop Curley - led to a brief stint as Maryland's top-ranked team. All 13 wrestlers (a school record) placed in the top four at counties, where Mount Hebron was runner-up to River Hill.


Clayton Arnold

Owings Mills, senior

The 135-pound senior was unstoppable in winning his first county, region and state titles, along with the senior all-star classic at River Hill.

Arnold finished the season with a 42-0 record, and his 147 career victories - against only 10 career losses - rank No. 2 in school history behind unbeaten, four-time state champ Steve Kessler (148-0) on the Eagles' all-time victories list.

Arnold had 20 pins and defeated Wilde Lake's former state champ, Matt Ennis, at the senior all-star classic.

Tom Boettcher

Archbishop Curley, senior

In four classic battles with Boys' Latin's Jerome Featherstone, Boettcher (152) won the last two in overtime, and, with them, his third MIAA and first private schools state titles.

Boettcher missed the National Preps tournament with a broken hand that later was operated on. Boettcher ended his season with a 35-5 record, and his 156-28 record and 91 pins are No. 1 in Curley history.

Boettcher won his fourth title at the Arundel tournament, joining his brother, Paul, a four-time champ, and Mike, a three-time champ. Tom, Paul and Mike rank Nos. 1, 2 and 3 on Curley's all-time victories list.

Pat Burns

Wilde Lake, senior

Burns (32-0, 17 pins) won heavyweight county and region titles and became the school's fifth state champ - the first to go unbeaten according to coach Adam Eldridge.

Burns won his region and state titles, 4-2, and in overtime against Dulaney's two-time Baltimore County champ Konstantinos Kosmakos, whom Burns had lost to twice a year earlier. Burns was the only wrestler this year to defeat Kosmakos (39-2), who said of Burns: "If I'm going to lose to somebody, I'm glad it was him because he's a class guy."

A champion at the South River and Dundalk tournaments, Burns and twin brother Chris will play scholarship football at Bowie State University.

Trent Dixon

Eastern Tech, senior

Much of his inspiration came from Trent David Gast-Woodard, the 2-year-old grandson of coach Joe Gast, who is named after Dixon.

Dixon (112) became his school's first two-time state champion, regaining the crown that he earned as a 103-pounder during his sophomore season. Dixon, who also won his second county title, also had wins over private schools state champ Cam Watkins (DeMatha) and 2A-1A runner-up Shawn Sims (Lansdowne), and two decisions over 4A-3A state runner-up Jim Van Daniker (Perry Hall).

The Franklin & Marshall-bound wrestler was 35-2 this year, 97-8 for his career and was taken down only five times this year.

Jerome Featherstone

Boys' Latin, junior

Featherstone (152) endured the death of his grandmother and overcame a strength-sapping disease in finishing second at each of the MIAA, private schools and National Preps tournaments.

The takedown technician went 2-2 against Curley's Tom Boettcher, beating him, 13-7 and 7-5. Featherstone won tournaments at Boys' Latin and Dundalk, defeating Baltimore County champ Richard Wemple in the latter.

Featherstone (35-5) also was runner-up at the Hammond tournament.

Mark Frey

Archbishop Curley, junior

The 119-pound repeat All-Metro went 38-5 with 18 pins, going unbeaten against Maryland wrestlers for the first time in his three years.

Frey (116 career wins, 45 pins) won his second MIAA and private schools titles and was runner-up at the National Preps after losing a narrow and controversial decision.

Frey won tournaments at Hammond and Arundel - the latter for the third straight year.

Ryan Green

River Hill, senior

This repeat All-Metro and this year's Howard County Wrestler of the Year competed first at 135 pounds and later at 140.

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