Binder, Kessler propel Owings Mills to title

Making strong comeback, pair rise to 26-0 on season


High Schools

December 31, 2003|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

By winning crowns at 140 and 152 pounds, respectively, Owings Mills wrestlers Alex Binder and Mike Kessler made up for lost time.

Binder (13-0), a senior, built a 7-1 lead on Annapolis' two-time state runner-up, Ben Graham, (8-1) and held him off for an 8-4 decision.

Kessler (13-0), a junior, rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 5-3 victory over Fallston's two-time state champ, Nathan Bachmann (6-1).

Joined on the victory podium by Eric Fishel (171), they led No. 3 Owings Mills to its second straight Arundel Holiday Tournament crown, 195.5-159 over fifth-ranked runner-up Chesapeake-Anne Arundel in the 18-team affair.

Finishing second for the Eagles were state champ Rob Cooper (119), Eric Vinores (125) and Jon Demchick (135), with Ryan Nash (130) defeating Woodlawn's county champ, Corey Lawson, 3-2, for third place, and Jon Sparklin (heavyweight) finishing fourth.

Expelled for disciplinary reasons when he was 11-0, Binder missed the second half of last season and a state title shot.

"People close to me see the change. They know I learned a lot about myself and worked hard in the offseason," Binder said. "It's good to be back."

The younger brother of three wrestlers who have combined to win eight state titles, Kessler, a two-time state place-winner, has yet to reach the state finals.

"It was important to show I could beat a guy this good," said Kessler, a third-place state finisher who earned Outstanding Upperweight Wrestler honors. "I went out, wrestled hard and won."

The Owings Mills team of Guy Pritzker, in his 22nd season, demonstrated why it is favored to win an unpredecented third straight 2A-1A state duals crown, and to tie Old Mill with its sixth title in the tournament format.

"It's an accomplishment to come here and win against this level of competition," said Eagles assistant Justin Ott.

Chesapeake's No. 1, Corey Bowers (119), and No. 5, Shane Fraser (125), won titles, the latter earning Outstanding Lowerweight honors.

Bowers (7-0) reached the final on three pins, winning his second straight crown, 3-1, over Rob Cooper (14-1), whom he pinned for last year's crown.

But Fraser (7-0) simply dominated. He reached the final on two pins and an 8-0 shutout of Arundel's previously unbeaten, No. 2-ranked Andrew Stiffler before getting a 10-0 shutout of Vinores (13-1) for the crown.

A state runner-up as a 103-pound freshman, Fraser lost the wrestle-off for 125 pounds last season and was forced to compete at 130, where he went 17-18 and failed to place at states.

"People doubted me coming into this, but it helped me to wrestle up a weight last year," said Fraser, who allowed only three points in four bouts at Arundel. "I feel much stronger at this weight."

Old Mill's No. 2, Doug West (130, 11-0), avenged an overtime loss of a year ago with his 7-3 victory over Centennial's No. 5, Dominic Ventura (9-2).

"I wanted to score on him first and control the match, and I felt I did from start to finish," said West, a state runner-up who outscored his four rivals by a combined 34-3.

In other bouts, River Hill's No. 2, Vince Cina (112), edged Arundel's fifth-ranked Justin Bowser (6-1) by 6-3 to improve to 11-0; North Carroll's No. 3 Tim Hutchins (135, 8-1) won by default over Demchick, and Annapolis' No. 4, Andrew Smith, (145) moved to 9-0 with his 3-2 win over North Carroll's No. 3, Seth Knights (8-1).

Also, Pallotti's No. 3, Tim Jennings (189, 14-0), won on three pins and a major decision; Westminster's Eric Burr (215, 10-1) edged Howard's Mingo Grant, 4-3, and No. 3 Justin Neal (heavyweight) is 4-0 after his default win over Woodlawn's No. 2 Brandon Jones (5-1).

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