Few high school wrestling coaches can boast about the dedication of their kids like Francis Scott Key's Bill Hyson, who at 8 a.m. on Christmas Eve had 45 guys dressed and ready to practice.
He reaped dividends in their 29th annual Francis Scott Key Holiday Invitational yesterday as the fifth-ranked, host Eagles (4-0, 214.5 points) placed 12 wrestlers in the top three of their weight classes to win their third straight crown.
Winning titles were Steve Lessard (119, 9-2), third-ranked Randy Owings (130, 11-1), Chris Beale (135, 10-2), Zac Yinger (140, 9-2), Jamie DeGroft (152, 9-3), fifth-ranked Ed Null (160, 12-1) and Dale Bloom (189, 9-3). Jason Hooper (103), Tony Bitzel (171) and Mark Smith (heavyweight) were second, and Matt Griffith (125) and Josh Bonnette (145) were third.
Owings, Beale and Null won it for the second straight year, with Catoctin (141.5 points) being a distant second in the team standings.
"Most of us have been wrestling for years," said Owings (nine pins), who pinned his three opponents in under 10 minutes, earning the tournament's outstanding wrestler trophy. "This shows we've got balance throughout the team."
.' Liberty's Anthony Omelio (103,
6-2) used a third-period reversal to win, 4-2, over Hooper, who had pinned him in an earlier encounter. Omelio's teammate, Dave Evans (145, 6-1), captured the tournament crown for the second straight year with his second-period pin of North Hagerstown's Ryan Moats.
Lessard, Bitzel and Smith were surprise finalists.
Lessard pinned Howard County champ Steve Cho, won, 3-0, in the semifinals over Liberty's Tim Stuples, and, 8-2, over Catoctin's Mark Small in the title bout. Stuples' 2-0 decision of Cho earned him third.
Bitzel, a former reserve wrestler, beat the top seed, 10-4, in his first bout of the year and won his semifinal, 5-3, on a buzzer-beating fireman's carry takedown. Smith (275 pounds) had a first-period pin and a 13-4 semifinal upset of last year's champion, Catoctin's Doug Wivell.
"We've got the support of the whole school," said Lessard, a sophomore. "Everyone wants to win and beating [No. 3 county champion] North Carroll is our No. 1 priority. The way everyone thinks is that if we do well in practice, we know we'll do well on the mat."
Liberty's third-place finishers were Stuples, Phil Youssi (140) and Andy Sunnell (189).