Bel Air wrestling keeps it competitive

Coach credits depth despite losing nine seniors

Aberdeen hoops raising money with free throws

December 21, 2008|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to the Baltimore Sun

The Bel Air wrestling team lost nine seniors from last year's Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference tournament championship squad.

But the Bobcats haven't missed a beat. They beat C. Milton Wright (40-22) and Northern (Calvert) (42-27) Wednesday, improving to 8-2 this season. The Bobcats also took fourth in the Ed Perry Tournament earlier this month at Annapolis Area Christian School.

Coach Craig Reddish credits the depth that Bel Air has built up in recent years with letting him fill holes in the lineup while keeping the team competitive.

"I think we're at a point now where we can just reload instead of rebuild every year," said Reddish, now in his 16th year. "We do that with a real solid JV program, and we've got more kids coming out."

The Bobcats will rely heavily on younger wrestlers this year. They started 10 underclassmen last Wednesday.

"We've had solid JV teams, and our numbers are up," Reddish said. "The kids that are in there are solid wrestlers. They're just not names that are known to other people."

Junior Dante Leoni (112 pounds) was 12-0 after Wednesday and took first at the Ed Perry tournament. Sophomores Tom Kuegler (171, 10-1) and Steve Cross (125, 11-3) have also been strong. Kuegler also won the Ed Perry tournament. Senior captain Mike Miller is a three-year starter who gives the Bobcats experience.

Bel Air also has about 40 wrestlers combined on the JV and varsity teams. The Bobcats have won the UCBAC JV title for the past two years.

The Bobcats varsity team was 19-8 last year and came away with the conference's tournament title, but they didn't do much beyond that.

"We want to get to the state level," Reddish said. "Our goal is to be a more consistent competitor at the state level."

Shooting to raise money

Aberdeen girls basketball coach Mike Blizzard always focuses on free throws more than usual this time of year.

Blizzard is the creator of the Shooting Santas program, in which basketball players get sponsors and shoot free throws to raise money for needy families in Harford and Cecil counties.

Players from Aberdeen, Harford Tech, Joppatowne and Cecil County's Perryville raised nearly $9,000 this winter. They shot 50 free throws at Aberdeen on Dec. 7 and were sponsored based upon the number of shots made or given a flat rate donation. Players from the three Harford schools then went shopping Wednesday night to buy things for seven families. The gifts were scheduled to be delivered yesterday.

Blizzard, who began the program 10 years ago while coaching at Havre de Grace, was expecting the deliveries to take five to six hours, but he knew it would mean something to the players involved.

"It's an emotionally moving experience for them," Blizzard said. "Our goal is not only to help the families, but we're trying to create a younger generation that wants to do something similar when they're adults."

Brook-Lyn Williams ($646) of the Aberdeen girls JV team and Troy Quay Malloy ($569) of the Aberdeen boys JV team were the top money-raisers this year.

"We helped seven families have a dream come true," Blizzard said.

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