After three seasons as head coach at Hammond, Jason Freiert has stepped down due to work and family obligations. Patrick Kepp, who wrestled for Glenelg in 2005, is the new head coach, but assistant Ryan Mackin, a former state champ for the Golden Bears, will still be part of the program.
Kepp, who is finishing a business administration degree at Towson, works for State Farm and as a high school and college football official.
Glenelg Country not only gets a new head coach, but a new program. Doug Jesse, who was a two-time high school state finalist in Ohio and wrestled collegiately for Cornell, brings an impressive résumé to the school, having coached two college programs — Division I Wagner and Division II Tiffin — before he was 30. Jesse, who has a pair of Master's degrees in education, is a teacher at the school.
The Dragons wrestled a JV season last year as preparation for this winter's MIAA B Conference debut.
Wilde Lake's Azmar Hagler left last season to help his former wrestler, Zach Brown, kick off his career in the NFL, but he left the program in capable hands. Former Hammond head coaches Jeff Starnes and Bill Smith took the program over midway through last season, and have more than 20 years of combined head coaching experience between 1983 and 1998.
"We're just excited to get a full year with these guys. It was nice for us to knock the cobwebs off (last year)," Starnes said.
In this corner...
*County champion; ^JV county champion
Last season: 4-7 league, 15-13 overall, sixth at county tournament
Coach: Bruce Lindblad, second season (16th overall)
Top returners: Senior Pat Mullens* (170); juniors Phil Frazier (138) and Brian Rodriguez (195); sophomore Josh Pickens (126).
Top newcomers: Senior Sam Bernard (138); juniors Houston Brown (120), Zac Smith (152) and Chris Davis (285); sophomores Sean Divver (113), Alec Lewin (120) and Scott DeJames (132).
Key losses: Matt Fields (182), Payam Sojdehei (285), Emilio Altamirano (160), Ashton Stennett (152) and Dan Shin (138).
Non-league opponents: at Bel Air, Jan. 11; at Harford Tech, Feb. 1.
The gameplan: The Raiders have only 24 wrestlers in the room, but they got a good booster crop this year, including a junior heavyweight who is every bit of 285 pounds, Davis, and three transfers: Brown, Divver and Lewin. Mullens, who won 28 matches including a county title last year, is the team's best athlete. Matt Fields, a 30-match winner who would have wrestled in the upperweights, moved to Florida.
Bonus point: The 14th annual Atholton JV tournament, one of the best JV tournaments in the state, will be held Dec. 8 at Atholton.
Last season: 2-9, 2-12, seventh at county tournament
Coach: David Roogow, sixth season