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Invitational not friendly to all Gators


On the surface, yesterday's Friends Invitational appeared kind to No. 8 Perry Hall.

The Gators walked away with three individual titles after having five wrestlers make the championship round in the tournament that does not keep team scores.

But dig a little deeper, and it's easy to see why Perry Hall coach Al Miller did not feel very happy when the tournament ended last night.

Even though Steve Boothe (119 pounds, 22-2, ranked fourth in state), Brian Yoakum (145, 20-3) and Jeff Taylor (189, 23-2) won their weight classes, the Gators lost when their injury list grew dramatically.

Steve Page (140) injured a big toe and Mike Atwell (189) jammed his hand. Both left early for X-rays, forfeiting consolation matches.

Plus, Joe Farinetti (171) fought a virus most of the day. Despite having to lay down for long stretches, he still wrestled in the consolation round and finished third.

Add to this the loss last week of Austin Kim (152) with a slightly separated shoulder, and it's easy to see why Miller was worried.

"If these guys don't come back, this could be the costliest tournament of my career," said Miller. "We keep getting crippled up."

With the Baltimore County wrestling tournament looming at the end of the week, Miller was hoping for some luck with the injured wrestlers. When the tournament ended, Miller still had not received word on anyone's condition.

Perry Hall also got second-place finishes from Nick Sidiropoulos (103, 20-3) and Rich Hanzevack (135, 21-2).

Sidiropoulos fell to Seung Yang (17-2) of Loch Raven, 4-2. Fallston's Patrick Elliott (17-3) handed Hanzevack a tough loss, reversing him with one second left for a 6-4 decision.

No. 12 Owings Mills also had success. The Golden Eagles won titles with Josh Ellin (112, 21-1) and Steve Kessler (130, 21-0). Like Perry Hall, Owings Mills placed five wrestlers in the championship round.

Owings Mills coach Guy Pritzker was all smiles when asked about his team's performance, in which 10 of the 12 wrestlers placed.

"I'm really happy, my kids did great," said Pritzker, who particularly liked the work of Josh Ezrine (152) a fill-in who came away with fifth place. "It's a good practice tournament. It's a good warm-up for the [Baltimore] county tournament."

Randallstown's Gary Harris (19-0) stretched his unbeaten streak 51 by winning at 125. The senior, ranked first in the state and the defending Class 3A-4A state champion at 119, pinned Grant Ohler of Owings Mills at 5:15.

Other champions were: James Phillips (140, 16-1) from Randallstown, Dundalk's Eric Cuppett (152, 7-3), Matt Bonds (160, 22-2) of Friends, Bowling Brook Prep's Jesus Hall (171, 12-0) and heavyweight R. J. Mayer (18-2) from Loch Raven.

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