No. 15 Hammond took a major step toward repeating as county dual-meet champion by defeating No. 14 Wilde Lake (6-1 overall, 1-1 league) yesterday, 33-26.
Hammond (7-1, 2-0) earned its 13th consecutive county dual-meet victory, and two early pins were crucial to its success.
Amit Kapoor at 103 pounds pinned Talib Moreland of Wilde Lake in 5:06, ending an extremely close match in which both wrestlers had earlier chances at pins.
"Coach [Bill] Smith just told me before the match to get psyched and start the domino effect," Kapoor said. "Wilde Lake is a good team and we thought it was going to be a tight match. We didn't underestimate them."
Then Mike Chang pulled off an equally important pin at 112 pounds over Josh Ho of Wilde Lake in 3:19. Chang led 11-2 at the time of the pin, which gave the Bears a 12-0 lead in team points.
"They both did super jobs," Smith said. "I'm just really impressed with my kids."
At 119, Dan Prolix kept Hammond on the winning track despite bleeding from the lip, beating a fine wrestler in Nick Yoon, 10-2. The major decision gave the Bears four more points and boosted their lead to 16-0.
Then it was Brian Law's turn to keep the match rolling the Bears' way, as he decisioned Fennell Howell, 5-3. Law barely avoided a takedown during the final 20 seconds.
"Brian is a real fighter," Kapoor said.
With Hammond leading 19-0, the match appeared headed for a rout. But the young Wilde Lake team fought back.
Tom Mazzo scored a pin at 130 and Tony Crawford edged Nakia White, 6-5, at 140.
But Eron Woodward's strong superior decision at 145 and Josh Stokes' pin at 152 clinched a tie for Hammond. The Bears led 33-9 with four matches left.
Wilde Lake needed four pins to tie and didn't get them, though Rob McGrain at 160 and Mike Green at 171 earned superior decisions.
Nate Cassella won, 10-3, at 189 for Wilde Lake and Carlo Gerstenfeld ended the night by pinning Jim Jackson of Hammond in 5:07.
"We didn't give up but those early pins did it for them," Wilde Lake coach Rich Jackson said.