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Boys' Latin, Gilman wrestlers gear up for National Preps

Gilman freshman Cole Brown, center, will be competing in National Preps at 106 pounds Friday at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He placed third in the state tournament to qualify.
Gilman freshman Cole Brown, center, will be competing in National Preps at 106 pounds Friday at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He placed third in the state tournament to qualify. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

It has been eight years since a Boys' Latin wrestler was named a National Prep tournament All-American. Grady Gamble was the last to accomplish it in 2007, finishing fifth at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

But Boys' Latin wrestling coach Drew Haugh believes the eight-year drought could end Saturday when senior Rocco Bruno and juniors Nate Malinowski and Kahlan Lee-Lermer compete in the two-day tournament.

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A top-eight finish qualifies for All-American status.

Each of the Boys' Latin wrestlers advanced to the season-ending National Preps after posting top-six finishes in the Independent Schools State Tournament at McDonogh School on Feb. 21.

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"It's the toughest tournament of the year without question and all three have a legitimate shot of getting in the top eight," Haugh said. "They've been placing high enough in some pretty good tournaments. They are finishing as runner-ups behind some of the best kids in the nation and not just the state right now."

Haugh tries to make National Preps an enjoyable experience for his wrestlers. He emphasizes fun as much as the competition, saying it brings out the best in each wrestler.

"They really look forward to it," Haugh said. "We take them out to dinner. We will have a good time and reminisce about the season. There's not a lot of pressure on them."

Malinowski, Bruno and Lee-Lermer competed in the event last year.

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"They got a taste of it," Haugh said. "They saw what it takes to succeed. They won't be in such awe."

Bruno (182 pounds, 34-7) is having a strong season. A lacrosse player, Bruno finished second in four events, including the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament, the Knightmare and Overlea invitationals and the Mount Mat Madness.

Bruno, who has a 110 career wins, had the highest finish at state tournament, placing third.

"Every finals he gets to, he is wrestling the best kid around," Haugh said. "He is running into the cream of the crop in his weight class."

Lee-Lermer has compiled a 36-9 record. He finished second in the Knightmare Invitational, third in the Overlea Invitational and fourth in MIAAs.

Lee-Lermer placed fifth at states, beating MIAA champion Malik Woody of Mount St. Joseph.

"He wrestles all of the offseason," Haugh said. "That's his sport. Kahlan doesn't play lacrosse or soccer. He just concentrates on wrestling and he has gotten better and better."

Malinowski has made strides, too. He placed sixth at states, where his twin brother, Nick, was also on the team.

"Nate is really coming on," Haugh said. "In years past, Nick has kind of been the one in the limelight."

Haugh also has high hopes in National Preps for freshman Jamie Rice (113, 27-15), who placed sixth in the state tournament.

"He has a lot of wins for a freshman," Haugh said. "It's a big jump up from junior leagues."

Five Greyhounds on their way to Nationals

Five Gilman wrestlers advanced onto National Preps after top-six finishes in the state tournament: freshman Cole Brown (106, 3rd, 32-11), sophomores Braeden Alevizatos (126, 4th, 34-8) and Jake Brummett (182, 5th, 26-19) and junior Aaron Cranston (170, 5th, 28-16), and senior Jahee Jackson (285, 6th, 23-11).

Alevizatos is the only Greyhound who competed in National Preps last year, going 1-2.

"We haven't had a lot of guys place recently," said Gilman assistant wrestling coach Henry Franklin, noting Garrett Pfeifer finished fourth as a senior last year. "A lot of guys have come within one round of placing."

Franklin thinks Brown and Alevizatos have the best shot to place for Gilman. Each had the highest finishes in the MIAA tournament for the Greyhounds. Brown took second and Alevizatos placed third.

"Both of them are wrestling really well on their feet and riding really well," Franklin said. "If you can keep your opponent from scoring on bottom in a tight match, that can be a huge difference in winning and losing in these close matches."

Franklin said Alevizatos has had the best season of any Gilman wrester "from start to finish."

"But if you are looking at the second half, Cole is right there with him," Franklin said.

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