Riv. Hill catches Centennial

Lignelli's pin leads Hawks to 40-28 win over Eagles, inside track to crown


January 29, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

With four bouts to go in a showdown for the Howard County championship last night at River Hill, Centennial held a 12-point lead. Doubt was creeping into the minds of the favored No. 4-ranked Hawks even though River Hill is strong in the upper weights.

"A couple of matches had gone the wrong way and got me to thinking that this [Centennial] was a better team than I thought," said River Hill's Mikey Lignelli (189 pounds), who hadn't wrestled in two weeks because of an injured knee, but on whose shoulders it fell to halt Centennial's streak of five straight winning bouts, from 140 pounds through 171 pounds.

"Everyone told me we needed a pin, and I got it on my mind that this could be the deciding match, so I stayed focused," said Lignelli, whose older brother Jeremy was a two-time state champion.

Lignelli earned a dramatic pin at 5:04, pulling his opponent back onto the mat and cutting the eighth-ranked Eagles' lead in half.

The Hawks won the next three bouts on a forfeit and two pins to seal a 40-28 victory and an almost-certain county title.

River Hill (16-3 overall, 7-0 league) has only two league matches remaining against Atholton and Howard, two struggling teams.

Centennial (8-1, 6-1) lost its first dual meet of the season.

"Centennial was no slouch," said Hawks coach Earl Lauer. "They were second at Franklin, fourth at Arundel, were undefeated in duals and had three ranked wrestlers -- all of whom are potential state champs. I told the kids I want pins, and that we're going to beat them on bonus points."

That's exactly what happened, as each team won seven bouts. But River Hill got five pins, won on a forfeit and earned a major decision, while Centennial recorded two pins and one major decision.

"We did everything possible, and if I was to coach this 10 times, I wouldn't do anything differently," said Eagles coach Todd DeCrispino, a 14-year veteran whose team hasn't been in the running for a county title in seven years. "We just got pinned more than I thought we would. We needed a little more depth."

Lignelli's pin was followed with a forfeit by Centennial to Jesse Fawcett at 215 pounds.

Daniel "Stovetop" Stahovic used his 267 pounds and took just 51 seconds to pin Centennial's Pat Davis, who was giving up 75 pounds. The pin left the Eagles with a 34-28 lead.

The final match was at 103 pounds, and River Hill's Vince Cina, a national amateur champion, pinned Mike Montanez in 2:58.

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