Sophomore Gill, Key pin down tourney title

Eagles' young lineup holds off Century, 8 others


High Schools

December 28, 2003|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Francis Scott Key sophomore Reuben Gill dabbed at his blood-stained teeth with a napkin as he spoke of how good it felt to win his second straight Christmas tournament title yesterday before a home crowd.

The 112-pounder survived a near-pin by Brunswick's previously unbeaten Terry Bartholomew for a 9-8 semifinal victory, and required a late escape and takedown for his 8-5 championship win over Carroll County rival Chris Taber (9-3) of Century.

Gill (6-0) was joined by freshman Shane Eyler (125) and junior Joe Hansbrough (135). Their title-winning efforts led the host Eagles to the crown in their 10-team, 36th annual invitational.

The Eagles, who have only two seniors in their lineup, scored 175 points compared to 146 for runner-up Century, getting second-place efforts from Matt Callari (103), Brett Croomes (152), Nate Eyler (189), Tommy Rush (215) and Ralph Stambaugh (heavyweight). Finishing third were John Weishaar (119) and Luke Schuster (171), with Bryan Hemler (145) taking fourth.

But with notoriety comes the pressure of being "the target," said Gill, who had an easier time with Taber in his 9-2 victory as a freshman.

"When your name's been in the paper a few times, people work harder to beat you," said Gill, who was 23-7 last season. "We showed today that, as a team, we have a chance to win a lot. But that also means we'll have to work harder."

Francis Scott Key is on the right track. Eyler improved to 7-0 with his 2-1 championship win over Drew Kohler of St. Mary's. Hansbrough (6-1) pinned two opponents before scoring a 9-1 major decision over Century's Zach Black, who stunned Oakland Mills' Howard County champ Antonio Josiah in his semifinal win with a headlock and a first-period pin.

Century freshman Alex Grassi (103) improved to 10-1 with pins in 50 and 61 seconds, respectively, the latter over Callari, whom he decked for the second time this season. Grassi, whose only loss was by 3-2 to South Carroll's unbeaten Steve Willingham, has seven pins.

Oakland Mills' fourth-ranked Jeff Plasse (130) and No. 5 Sean Kendig (215) won titles.

Plasse was a state runner-up as a freshman and was fourth the past two years, but he showed championship form in moving to 15-1. The senior used a pin and a decision to reach his title bout, where he pinned Century's Evan Schrodel (10-2) in 3:14 to earn Outstanding Wrestler honors.

"I'm happy with what I did as a sophomore and last year, but I do want to get back to the finals and see if I can win states," Plasse said. "I'm just taking it one match at a time."

Down 5-0 against Rush (3-1), Kendig's five-point takedown in the final seconds of the second period tied the bout. He then escaped early in the third period and hung on to win, 6-5.

"He [Rush] was off-balance after trying for an ankle pick, so I got a cradle off the takedown, went for the half and put him to his back," said Kendig, who is 15-0. "It was a big move because he had gotten those early points."

For St. Mary's, Lou Ruland (119) raised his record to 12-0 after his seventh pin in 1:19 of his semifinal, and edging Poolesville's Nick Trusilo, 6-3, for the crown. Against Trusilo (16-2), Ruland broke a 3-3 tie with an escape and takedown in the final 49 seconds.

A sophomore who was fourth at 103 pounds last year, Ruland won his third high school tournament. Earlier this month, Ruland beat Calvert Hall's Nick Barone for the Annapolis Area Christian tournament crown.

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