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Hammond wins crown in record-breaking style


As Hammond senior and defending 130-pound county champion John Motley climbed atop the victory stand last night, his Golden Bears teammates began exchanging high-fives with one another in early celebration of a record night.

By repeating as Howard County's tournament winner at Atholton High, fifth-ranked Hammond joined Oakland Mills as the county's only school to win back-to-back wrestling titles in the past 18 years.

In a duel for second place, Oakland Mills edged Howard, 159-154.

Although the Golden Bears (14-2, 6-0) are still far from achieving the dominating heights Oakland Mills reached by winning 13 county titles in 16 years (1977-80, '82-83, '85-88, '90-92), Hammond produced a county-tournament record of 244.5 points, eclipsing Oakland Mills' mark of 243.5 set in 1990.

"For those on our team who didn't win tonight it was difficult, but they were a key reason for our achievements," said Hammond coach Bill Smith. "You saw them all at the end rooting on our heavyweight Pedro Barbosa. That's what it's all about."

It was Barbosa's 8-2 decision over Wilde Lake senior Carlo Gerstenfield that enabled the Golden Bears to claim the points record.

Leading after Thursday night's quarterfinals with 135 points, Hammond pulled further ahead going into the finals, forging a 63-point advantage over second-place Howard (150) and a 64-point edge over Oakland Mills (149). With nine finalists in the 13 weight divisions, the Golden Bears sought only to add individual titlists to their team crown.

Hammond junior Mike Chang (26-3) began the Golden Bears' march to the victory stand with a 5-2 decision over Glenelg junior Jeff Feaga (14-6). At 119, Golden Bear freshman Josh Zillmer (19-2) had a 5-2 victory over Oakland Mills junior Chuong Nguyen (8-1).

"It used to be Oakland Mills. Now it's Hammond's turn to be on top for a decade," said Zillmer.

Glenelg freshman Jeremy Lignelli (19-4) pulled a mild upset in the 135 class by earning a 6-3 decision over Hammond senior Brian Law ( 22-6).

In the 171-pound division two-time defending county champion Mike Green of Wilde Lake handed Howard senior Seth Eldridge his first setback with a 10-3 decision.

Green's third title, and second at 171, makes him one of only 10 county wrestlers to win three titles.

His junior teammate Eric Paskin (21-0) escaped with a 4-2 victory over Oakland Mills senior Paul Crickard to capture the 145 title.

Other Hammond winners included: senior Dan Proulx (24-6), a 7-5 victor over Howard senior Preston Murfin at 140; senior Chris Williams (26-3), earning a 19-3 technical fall over Wilde Lake senior Richard Jackson; and junior Jim Weston, pinning Wilde Lake senior Darnell Kelly at 2:14 to win at 189.

Oakland Mills senior Juri Freeman (9-0) repeated as champion in

the 103-pound division, earning a 10-0 decision over Hammond senior Amit Kapoor (18-9). Freeman's teammate Wade Mitchell captured the 119 title with a 5-4 decision over Centennial junior Jason Nagle.

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