Steve Kessler doesn't like his matches any closer than necessary. And in yesterday's 35th annual Baltimore County tournament, he blew away the opposition and dazzled the crowd at Dulaney.
The top-ranked, two-time state champ (152, 29-0) improved his public school career state record to 102-0 on three technical falls and a 49-second pin. He blanked Dulaney's two-time county runner-up Scott Kopalchick (22-3) by 16-0 for the title. The three-time county champ out-scored the opposition by a combined 52-6, to help Owings Mills out-distance Dulaney, 213-168, for its fourth county crown.
"I didn't want to show off, as much as wrestle at my best in my own county championship," said Kessler, who will go at 145 for states. "As far as my record, I just want it to get bigger and bigger."
In a battle of co-No. 6-ranked heavyweights, Owings Mills' Anthony Smith (29-1) headlocked Eastern Tech's Jamie Blankenship (24-3) with 15 seconds left in overtime to win, 6-1.
Kessler's and Smith's teammates weren't so fortunate, as the Eagles went, 2-5, in title bouts.
Among them was teammate Willie Broadnax (189, 25-3) losing, 11-5, to Milford Mill's repeat champ Greg Forbes (19-1). Forbes, a junior who cuts to 189, simply overpowered Broadnax, who walks around at 178.
Dulaney's Pat Kopalchick (145, 22-2), a runner-up last year, defeated Pikesville's Steve Golob (26-3), 3-0. But teammate Damon Holmes (160, 15-4) was dethroned as county champ, 16-0, by Perry Hall's Austin Kim (23-3). Kim, last year's county runner-up, erased the memory of an earlier loss to Holmes, who trailed, 7-0, before pinning Kim.
Kenwood's No. 6 Brad Thomas (112, 28-0) dominated the Eagles' Billy Miller ( 21-3) for the second time this year, enforcing the low-single on four of his five takedowns in a 10-3 victory.
Kenwood's No. 5 Chuck Jones(125, 27-1) scored his 21st, 22nd and 23rd pins along with a technical fall. Jones, who missed weight for last year's counties, and missed last year's regions due to illness, pinned Owings Mills' Steve Kellner (26-4) in 5:38 of their title bout.
But Kenwood's Terry Hagy (135, 24-2) scored two pins and a decision only to fall, 3-0, to Lansdowne's Grant Ohler (21-1) in the finals. And teammate Bryant Mallory (20-5) lost, 14-3, to Pikesville's Chad Hipsley (171, 26-3) for the second time this year.
Sparrows Point's top-ranked Tommy Free (119, 30-0, 27 pins) won his third county title -- the first was as an Edgewood freshman in Harford County -- by 9-2 over Owings Mills' No. 4 Dale Bowers (25-2, 22 pins). Free, who has a 79-2 career record (46 career pins), built an 8-0 lead against Bowers, who decked Overlea's Cory Scott in a semifinal bout that was tied at 6.
Dundalk's No. 5 Dan Simancek (140, 29-0) scored his 19th pin, two technical falls and a 4-2 title bout win over Owings Mills Ari Dolid (28-3) to win his second straight crown.
And in a battle of 103-pounders who split during the regular season, Dundalk freshman Rick Reesey (26-1) three times countered takedowns by Franklin senior Avi Meier (20-5) for a fall in 1:49.
Perry Hall's No. 6 Nick Sidiropoulos (125, 18-1) downed Sparrows Point's previously unbeaten and No. 4 Mike Young (25-1) by injury default in the semifinals -- a bout Sidiropoulos led, 6-2 -- then blew a 4-1 deficit in a 6-4 overtime title bout loss to Catonsville's Shawn Ohl (23-5). Ohl became the Comets' first champ since Dave Carlisle (Hwt.) in 1974.