Hereford's Asper joins three-time champ club

Junior could become only 3rd 4-time winner

Class 2a-1a wrestling

March 04, 2007|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- Hereford junior Josh Asper has a healthy respect for history -- with an emphasis on "healthy."

Last night at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House, the 160-pounder became his school's first three-time 2A-1A state champ with a 6-2 victory over last year's 152-pound champ, Southern of Garrett County's Justin Ratliff (15-2).

The win leaves Asper (39-0) on pace to join Aberdeen's Matt Slutzky (1992) and Owings Mills' Steve Kessler (1997) as Maryland's third four-time champ. But Asper's enthusiasm was tempered by the fact that this season, he watched two other three-time champs, Vince Taweel of Hammond and Eren Civan of Walt Whitman, fall short of the milestone due to knee injuries.

"It's weird, almost seems like they were cursed," said Asper, who has won 50 straight since losing to Taweel, 8-7, as a sophomore. "Winning and being in line to win four is great, but for right now, I'd settle for just staying healthy."

Hammond's Devon Gillett (119) outscored four rivals by a combined 28-4, including a 1-0 shutout of Glenelg's Brian Marcoux (31-4), for his second straight crown. Gillett (30-6) has won five of eight bouts against Marcoux, who dethroned him in overtime of their Howard County final, but lost in overtime of last week's 2A-1A South region final.

"There's a lot of strategizing for him because he does a lot of the same things I do," said Gillett, a senior. "Being a two-time state champ feels amazing."

Also finishing as runners-up for Glenelg (third, 103.5 points) were Chris Stinnett (125, 33-1) and Danny Bichner (130, 32-3). South Carroll's Tyler Mullen (171) was runner-up for the second straight year. Rising Sun, led by two-time champ Matt Jackson (135) and James Price (140), edged Southern-Garrett for the team title.

A state runner-up and third place finisher the past two seasons, Owings Mills' 145-pounder Tony Mack (37-1) became his program's 24th individual titlist, scoring four takedowns in a 9-2 rout of Rising Sun's Aaron Williams (37-4).

Having finished fourth and third in the past two seasons, Atholton 152-pounder Ryan Conroy (30-1) secured his crown, 4-2, over Middletown's unbeaten Brandon Johnson (42-1) on a double-leg takedown with 26 seconds left.

After going 9-17 and failing to qualify for regions, let alone the state tournament as a sophomore two years ago, Liberty's Eddie Digman (285) had to watch from the stands as teammate Brandon Gervie (189) went unbeaten to become their school's fifth state champ. Last night, Digman (39-0, 26 pins) earned his own state title, 8-1, for his second win in as many weeks over Southern of Garrett County's Justin Sisler.

Century's Alex Grassi (125, 38-2) became his school's first state champ, winning, 6-1, over Glenelg's previously unbeaten Chris Stinnett (33-1) after having placed fourth and second.

lem.satterfield@baltsun.com

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