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Hammond falters in region final


There was no denying that Montgomery County's Damascus earned the first 1A-2A South Region dual-meet title after steamrolling Hammond High, 42-18, last night in the final at Atholton High.

Hammond coach Bill Smith, however, said his Bears would have had a better shot had they not had to battle two tough teams yesterday while Damascus had a virtual walkover in the semifinals.

In the semis, Damascus (14-0) rolled past first-year West Lake of Charles County, 68-3, while Hammond (13-2) recorded a difficult 42-22 decision over Charles County's Lackey (10-2), a team it beat by only one point in December.

"After they wrestled a JV team [West Lake] like they did . . . most of their [Damascus'] matches didn't go one period while we had to go hard every match," said Smith. "[West Lake coach Dominic Zaccarelli] is a real nice guy and does a great job, but that team doesn't belong here."

West Lake is officially a varsity program despite having only freshmen and sophomores. It qualified for the tournament through the state's point system.

Smith said several schools were more deserving than West Lake, particularly Montgomery County's Rockville High, which "would have beat them at every weight class," said Smith.

Nobody in the Damascus camp disputed Smith's point, but no oneexpressed any sympathy either. The Hornets wrestled Monday and Tuesday en route to their first Montgomery County regular championship.

"I'm going to give them a day off," said Damascus coach Dave Hopkins, whose team advanced to the inaugural state dual-meet semifinals Saturday at noon at Westminster High. The championship will be decided Saturday at 3 p.m.

Hammond will start defense of its Howard County regular title in a two-day tournament starting today at Atholton.

After Hammond's Amit Kapoor defeated the Hornets' Sean O'Neill, 4-3, at 103 pounds for a 3-0 lead, Damascus rolled off three straight falls for an 18-3 advantage and was never seriously challenged.

Randy Picket pinned Mike Chang in 2:32, Mike York finished Mike Loula in 1:53 and Bobby Mann needed 3:40 to pin Ryan Armstrong to put the Hornets in control.

Tommy Horwat's pin of Hansel Henry in 1:59 at 160 pounds gave the Hornets an insurmountable 36-19 lead.

"We had such an emotional match with Lackey, it wore on us," said Hammond 189-pounder Jimmy Weston. Against Lackey, Weston, unranked at 189, pinned Nathen Kmieciak, the state's top-ranked 171-pounder, in 1:40. Weston finished Damascus' Brandon Ray in 36 seconds.

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