All-Anne Arundel

Wrestling

High School

March 12, 2003

WRESTLER OF THE YEAR

Justin Tippett

Arundel, senior

It was the most improbable state-title run the county has seen in a long, long time -- a story that got better with each passing weekend. Tippett, a 189-pound senior who hadn't wrestled since his freshman season, finally agreed to join the team at coach Bill Royer's urging in mid-January. That weight class was never the same after. Athletic and relentless, Tippett caught up to speed in a hurry, winning county and regional crowns before saving his very best for last. At his first state tournament, Tippett eased his way to the semifinal round, where he pinned Northern Calvert's highly-touted senior Matt Parsons in the first period. And then, up against Patapsco's junior standout, Eric Hood, in the championship, he scored a takedown with three seconds left to score an 8-6 win. "It was crazy," said Tippett, who had extensive junior-league experience. "The kid was strong, and I didn't want to go into overtime with him. I shot with 10 seconds left and the clock was right there -- I saw it counting down 5, 4, 3, 2. ... I just thought, `I cannot believe I did it.'" It didn't surprise Royer, to whom Tippett (17-1) is quick to give credit. "The kid's a winner," Royer said. "He has great athletic ability. He came in and did everything we asked of him."

COACH OF THE YEAR

Jim Grim

Old Mill

A perennial state power, the Patriots had a different view at the start of the season. With defending Class 4A-3A state champion Chesapeake loaded and Severna Park fast on the rise, the Patriots -- unranked and minus eight starters from the season before -- were clearly looking up at the others. By season's end, No. 7 Old Mill (14-2-1) was the team looking down from the podium, winning the program's state-record seventh 4A-3A state tournament title. In his second season, Grim had starting points in returnees Josh Baynham, William Bell and Doug West, but also eight first-year varsity wrestlers to work with. "In the beginning, we were taking baby steps. But from Day One, we preached county, regional and states and made sure to peak at the end of the year," he said. After placing no better than fifth in three tough tournaments, the Patriots put it all together as planned with county, regional and state titles. Baynham, Bell and West all scored big points in the state tournament with runner-up finishes to lead the way as expected. But it was 135-pound senior newcomer Jude Ayanleye, who took fifth to get needed points, that best exemplified how far Grim brought his team along.

FIRST TEAM

Walker Babington

Severna Park, senior

Unorthodox is one word often used to describe Babington's wrestling style. Effective is another. He closed out a sturdy four-year varsity career by capturing his first county and regional titles and placing fourth at states. Babington, who went 27-8 with 20 pins this season at 160 pounds, enjoyed a decision over Arundel 171-pound state champion Justin Tippett and closed out his career with 90 wins.

Josh Baynham

Old Mill, senior

His contributions on the mat this season -- a 35-5 record with county and regional titles to go with a state runner-up finish at 130 pounds -- spoke volumes. He, too, spoke volumes. The Patriots came into the season with eight starters lost to graduation and left with their state-record seventh 4A-3A state title. Baynham, a four-year starter with 104 career wins, stepped forward as the vocal leader to complement his intensity on the mat.

William Bell

Old Mill, senior

Quiet and humble off the mat, Bell was fierce on it. The Patriots' heavyweight may have come up one point short in a bid for his first state title, losing a 4-3 decision against Severna Park's Brian Payer in the final, but the loss doesn't diminish a fine season. The three-year starter went 33-4 with 18 pins, claiming county and regional titles and helping the 4A-3A state champion Patriots end each match on a positive note.

Corey Bowers

Chesapeake, junior

The centerpiece of the 4A-3A state runner-up Cougars, the standout at 119 pounds continued to be a model of consistency in producing a 31-3 season. He made it three straight county crowns, added a regional title and fell one point short of a state title with a tough 3-2 loss to Churchill's Brandon Shapiro in the championship bout.

Justin Bowser

Arundel, freshman

Coming in as a state runner-up in the junior-league ranks, Bowser earned instant respect for his work ethic and strong foundation. Just how much? Arundel coach Bill Royer appointed him a team captain. The 103-pound Bowser -- intense, well-conditioned and methodical on the mat -- responded with a fine first season, going 33-3 with county and regional titles along with a fourth-place showing at states.

Jake Couch

Chesapeake, sophomore

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