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The holidays are over, and one of the biggest high school wrestling tournaments in the area gets under way Friday at CCBC-Catonsville. The seventh annual Mount Mat Madness hits the floor at 2:30 p.m. with 400 wrestlers from a record 30 teams representing five states.

"It's a little bit stronger field this year than it was last year," Mount St. Joseph coach and athletic director Paul Triplett said. "From that standpoint the competition will be tougher, and we're looking forward to it."

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The tournament continues Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and culminates with the championship round at 7:30 p.m.

Among the competitors are eight returning tournament champions, including: Dominick Malone, 103 pounds, Wyoming Seminary; Sean Boylan, 112, St. Mark's; Nick Schenk, 119, McDonogh; Frank Cagnina, 125, Queen of Peace; Codey Combs, 140, Sussex Central; Bubba Scheffel, 145, Southern-Garrett; Chris Moon, 152, Fauquier; and Karl Green, 285, Mount St. Joseph.

Schenk has won titles twice in the past three years at 103 and 119, and is now wrestling at 135. Moon is now at Wyoming Seminary and competing at 160. Overall, seven of the eight returning champs are competing in different weight classes this year.

The only one who isn't is the Gaels' Green, who will try to defend his 285-pound title. It won't be easy. Green finished second in the National Prep Tournament last year and was a double Junior All-American in Fargo, N.D., but there are two other nationally ranked wrestlers in his weight class: Wyoming Seminary's Mike McMullan, who was the 2009 National Prep champion, and St. Mark's Bobby Telford, who went 38-0 last year.

"There are a number of highly ranked individuals in this tournament," Triplett said. "And we've got a nice mix of public and private schools. We try not to invite all of the MIAA schools because we see them so often during the season, and we try to invite some top schools outside of our area."

Among the teams competing are five ranked among the Top 15 by The Baltimore Sun: No. 1 Mount St. Joseph, No. 4 Archbishop Curley, No. 7 McDonogh, No. 13 Loyola and No. 14 John Carroll.

Even with the largest number of schools competing in the tournament's seven-year history, Triplett said tournament director Neil Adleberg still had to turn 15 to 20 teams away.

"There were some good teams who didn't get in," said Triplett, who will be coaching in the tournament for the first time.

The last time Triplett coached the Gaels, the tournament didn't exist. Over the past six years as athletic director, he has been working behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. On Tuesday, he said he's "excited" to be on the floor coaching.

"Personally, I want us to finish as high as we can," he said. "Ideally, we want to finish in the top five. We were fifth last year, and our goal is to always try to do better."

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