Long grabs elusive title

After two straight runner-up finishes, Harford Tech senior is second to none

Class 2A-1A wrestling

High Schools


COLLEGE PARK -- Mike Long's ascension to a Class 2A-1A state title mirrors that of the Harford Tech program. As a sophomore, the Cobras' Long lost by a point to Pikesville's Alex Prezenchuk in the final after beating him seven days earlier. Last year, he suffered a one-point loss in the title bout to Calvert's two-time champion Ryan Buff.

But Long finally took his place on the victory podium's top stair last night after his 130-pound final at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House, rising to 40-2 with a 3-1 win over Owings Mills sophomore Tony Mack (35-2). Long became Harford Tech's third individual state champion and led the Cobras to their first team crown, 114-112.5, over runner-up Hammond.

Teammates Mark Taylor (112) and Matt Kahl (145) were second, the latter for the second straight year. Seniors Jonathan Woods (152) and Jeff Gardner (171) were fourth, as the Cobras of 18th-year coach Gary Siler earned Harford County's first tournament title since Aberdeen completed its run of three straight in 1990.

"All that matters is that I finally won, but I always believed it was going to happen," said Long, whose team was fifth last year and second in 2003 and 2004. "People always consider us done-for when we come here, but we accomplished something that probably nobody thought was possible but us."

A runner-up to Owings Mills last year, Hammond crowned Devon Gillett (112), three-time champ Vince Taweel (140) and Steve Sessa (189), with the latter improving to 27-3 by dethroning Liberty's Brandon Gervie, 5-2. Gervie, who is 42-2 this year with 130 career wins, previously had beaten Sessa twice.

"The last two times we wrestled, I ran out of gas," said Sessa, who scored two clean takedowns. "I worked on my endurance and finishing my shots."

Gillett (35-3) scored a 10-3 victory over Harford Tech's Mark Taylor (34-4), whom he had beaten, 7-6, earlier this year. Gillett, a transfer from Arundel High, added his first state title to his second straight county and regional crowns.

Taweel (30-1), a junior, rose to 111-7 in his career with his 3-2 victory over Stephen Decatur's Latra Collick (38-4), whose only previous losses were to state champs Josh Asper (Hereford) and Joe Breen (McDonogh), and Kahl.

"This was for the doubters," said Taweel, who owns a win over Asper but was considered an underdog by some against Collick. "[Collick] is tough, kind of intimidating, but he's never been there before."

Asper (36-2) rode out Kahl for a double-overtime, 5-4 victory at 145 to join Steve Herbert and D.J. Scarponi as Hereford's repeat champs. Asper, a sophomore who last season became the first freshman to win a state title, was charged with a buzzer-beating stalling penalty point to send the bout into overtime, where he emerged victorious from a class boasting five returning top four finishers.

"I never doubted for one second I would win," Asper said.

Glenelg senior Matt Bichner (160, 30-4) beat two returning state runners-up en route to his title, earning a 7-4 semifinal win over Owings Mills' Ben McCree (35-1, 32 pins) and scoring five near-fall points in his 7-3 title rout of Stephen Decatur's Nathan Bourne (40-2).

Atholton senior Rob Eloshway (103) scored a takedown 29 second into overtime, lifting him to a 4-2 victory over Middletown freshman Tyler Strube (32-2), improving to 31-1 as his school's first champ since 103-pounder Doug Ramsey in 2002.

Glenelg's Dan Bichner (119, 30-5), Matt's brother, edged Century's returning runner-up Alex Grassi in his semifinal, but dropped his title bout, 4-3, to Rising Sun's Matt Jackson, who is 72-1 for his career. South Carroll's Tyler Mullen (152, 32-5) lost his title bout, 4-2 in overtime to Southern of Garrett's Jeff Ratliff.


Team scores: 1. Harford Tech 114; 2. Hammond 112.5; 3. Walkersville 80.5; 4. Glenelg 79; 5. Hereford and Stephen Decatur 78.5; 7. Calvert 78; 8. Southern-Garrett 67; 9. Liberty 62.5; 10. South Carroll 56; 11. Francis Scott Key 55; 12. Rising Sun 53.5; 13. Atholton 53; 14. Winters Mill 51; 15. Northern-Garrett 46; 16. Owings Mills 45.5; 17. Rockville 43; 18. Mardela 37; 19. Oakland Mills 34.5; 20. Beall 32.

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