Howard attempted to psyche out Hammond before their match last night by banging on the metal doors outside the Golden Bears' locker room and yelling at them during warm-ups. didn't work.
No. 5 Hammond (12-1, 6-0) dominated the meet and clinched its third straight Howard County dual-meet championship with a 38-17 pounding of visiting Howard.
The Golden Bears (12-1, 6-0), who led throughout the meet, recorded four pins and two major decisions. Howard (8-3, 4-2) won five matches, but only one was above a regular decision.
"Everything went right and more for us tonight," Hammond coach Bill Smith said. "Some people really stepped up for us in a big way."
Amit Kapoor, a 103-pounder for the Golden Bears, was a prominent member of that improved group. Kapoor had 12-0 and 5-4 defeats in his last two meets against wrestlers with winning county records.
But Kapoor set the tone for the meet with a 36-second pin. It was 15 seconds off his personal best.
"When I lost those times, I could see it got the team down," Kapoor said. "So I didn't want to let my team down again. And when Howard was being disrespectful before we came out, it really got me pumped up."
After Trevor Stubblefield (125) of Howard won a 12-7 decision over Ryan Armstrong, the Lions closed to within 10-6. Hammond's John Motley followed with a pin to give the Golden Bears a 10-point cushion they would not relinquish.
Hammond clinched the title after Hansel Henry won a wild 15-13 match over Brandon MacCherone. That win put Hammond up 32-9 with three matches left and added to the intense atmosphere.
In the next match, Howard's Seth Eldridge made an obscene gesture to the crowd. Then, the 189-pound match was delayed for five minutes when Howard coach Freddie Bullock and four Hammond parents got involved in a face-to-face shouting match.
"They were the superior team here and they showed it," said Bullock, who declined to comment on the shouting incident. "We thought coming into the meet that we were even in some matches, but it didn't work out that way."
One of those matches was at 130 pounds. With Brian Elphage leading 4-2 and in control, Motley executed a reverse and pin with 15 seconds left in the second period.