Hereford High is trying to establish a new moniker — being known as the premier wrestling program in Baltimore County.
That label at the top for the longest time belonged to powerhouse Owings Mills, a program that has won seven county championships since 2004, including three in a row from 2010-2012.
But Hereford — ranked No. 5 in the area in the Baltimore Sun high school wrestling poll — can build their case for being known as the best when the team goes gunning for a second straight Baltimore County championship at Franklin High on Feb. 22.
The rising Bulls are excited to have the opportunity to further knock Owings Mills off its long-time perch.
Hereford routed Owings Mills, 58-16, in a dual-meet on Jan. 23. Hereford coach Brett Baier said that’s the biggest margin of victory over the Eagles in 25 years.
“County coaches have said our program is the one to beat,” Baier explained. “I guess we have taken Owings Mills spot for that.
“That’s a humbling statement,” the coach added. “Our jayvee wins the county tournament just about every year, so we are always getting good wrestlers from there every year and our rec program has really started to develop wrestlers for the varsity.”
Hereford crowned four individual champions last year, including returning seniors Anthony Genco (126 pounds, 30-1) and Brock Turnbaugh (220, 30-1) and junior Billy Hess (195, 24-4).
Seniors Joe Miller (182, 27-4) and Andrew Lopez (132, 25-3) and junior Dylan Gray (160, 27-5) are also strong candidates for a county championship.
“We have had four winners multiple times,” Baier said. “I think we could have more than four this year. I think we have a special group. We always have a good number of standout guys. This year, we just have more experienced guys. A lot of guys have jayvee and junior league experience. Guys have six, eight, 10 years of experience.”
Hereford is, in fact, so loaded with top-notch wrestlers that Baier and Hereford head coach Ron Causey are touting the Bulls as prime contenders for a Class 1A-2A state championship at the University of Maryland in early March.
They haven’t won a state championship since 1970.
“We have a legitimate shot,” said Causey, whose team has a 24-4 dual-meet record. “Matchups matter in wrestling. Sometimes, you may have a better team, but because of matchups you don’t win. This year, we have a team that matches up well with the competition.”
Genco is the Bulls’ most accomplished wrestler. He ranks third all-time in Hereford victories (132) behind Josh Asper (151) and Jeremy Keil (143).
He’s ranked fifth in the state at 126 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association and will attend the University of Maryland on a wrestling scholarship next year.
Genco finished second in the state last year, losing in the final by a point. Yet the senior is clearly wrestling better than last year, when he went 36-3.
He beat two wrestlers, who finished second in the state last year, handily this winter.
He scored a 13-4 decision over Owings Mills’ Jake Rendelman and 14-7 triumph over Mount Hebron’s Jeff Hayden. “If he beat those two guys that took second in the state by that margin, then he’s looking like a state champ,” Baier said.
Turnbaugh, who will play at Johns Hopkins University next year on a lacrosse scholarship, seems to be another strong contender for an individual state title.
“He has beaten six guys that are ranked in the state in the top 20, either at heavyweight or 220,” Baier said.
“He works about as hard as any wrestler I’ve had,” Causey said.
Josh Perry (120, 8-4), Patrick Meadowcroft (138, 9-9), Collin McNicholas (106, 25-6), Craig Worpell (145, 20-10), Russell Carter (113, 16-7), Luke Wickiser (170, 20-8) and Tyler Butler (285) complete Hereford’s starting lineup.