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Many in Anne Arundel County have roles in its rich wrestling tradition.

Northeast coach Al Kohlhafer's teams won state titles in 1978 (the county's first) and again in 1993. Arundel's Buddy Hepfer, inducted into Maryland's Wrestling Hall of Fame last year, brought the Class 3A-4A title to the county in '87, where it has been eight of the last 10 years.

Mike Hampe's teams at Old Mill have won an six of the last eight Class 3A-4A tournament crowns, including five straight through the '92-'93 season.

Broadneck's Andy Claxton's a baby compared to those guys, but the county's newest public-school coach also is rooted in its wrestling dominance.

In 1988, the sixth season for then-Bruins' coach John Mayberry, Claxton's 138-pound decision over Rockville's Jeff Stroud completed a 36-1 season and lifted Broadneck over Old Mill by 10 points for the Class 3A-4A tournament team title.

"They'd beaten us twice, we'd beaten them once, but we pinned six people in the first round," said Claxton, 26, who took over this season for Mayberry -- the program's coach since its inception in '83 -- when Mayberry moved to Southern this season.

"Coach Mayberry taught me a lot about how to relate to the kids -- how to motivate them in different ways," said Claxton, Mayberry's assistant for two years. "He created a family atmosphere."

Claxton's No. 10 Bruins will need that, having first-year wrestlers in three weight classes. His schedule doesn't allow much time for growth, with this weekend's Annapolis Tournament and Tuesday's tri-meet with Annapolis at No. 8 Arundel, which dethroned Broadneck for last year's Class 3A-4A East Region dual-meet title.

Arundel (13-3 last year) returns four state qualifiers from a team that dethroned two-time county tournament champ Northeast and region tournament champ Old Mill.

The Wildcats' county and region champ Isaac Haertel (152, 26-2 last year) is a two-time state runner-up, and Graham Harris (145, 22-14) was third in both the county and regions. Jeff Blachly (189) was fourth in the county.

Arundel's lineup starts with county runner-up and region third-place finisher Pat Crouse (119, 18 wins) and Pat Ortman (125, 24 wins), who was fourth in both the county and region. JV runner-up Brian Schroeder (130) is followed by senior veterans Wayne Nichols (135) and Nick Smith (140).

Hepfer (229-86-5 in 26 seasons) likes what he sees in New Jersey transfer Rob Connolly (160) and returning sophomore Matt Neidig (171). "We had a great turnout, but there are some other good teams in the county," Hepfer said.

No. 11 Northeast, No. 14 Old Mill and Chesapeake are teams to watch.

Northeast's county runner-up and regional fourth-place finisher Tyrone Eaton (152-160) comes off a 25-7 season. Tony Serio (189) was third in both the county and regions. James Fleming (112-125) was third in the region.

Northeast has strength from 145-to-160 with junior league state champ James Bowman and Anthony Brown. Chesapeake transfer Mike Lavasseur or JV place-winner Dominic Serio add depth at 130-to-140.

Old Mill returns county champs Chris Combs (112, 27-4) and Rich Sampson (135, 21-13), and region runner-up Gary Serago (145, 20-6). Combs was region runner-up, and Sampson third in the region and sixth at states.

For Chesapeake, Carl Cicchetti (152, 26-6) was a county runner-up and region champ, and Chad Duncan (171, 27-3) was county and region champ.

St. Mary's Josh White (171) and Spalding's Jimmy Foster (130-140) return as two of their programs' most successful wrestlers to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.

White (91-18 career), the county's premier wrestler, was fifth at the National Preps and is Maryland's best at 171. He split bouts last season with private schools state champ Erik Fitez (Boys' Latin), won tournaments at Annapolis and St. Mary's Ryken in Leonardtown, and was runner-up at Curley, Boys' Latin and at the MIAAs.

So far he's 3-0 (all pins), including one over last year's Pennsylvania Prep Schools' champ, Mike Mita (St. Joseph's Prep), for the title in last weekend's Curley Invitational. Teammate Earnie Listman (189) is 3-0 with two pins.

Foster (78-19 career) was 34-6 last year, fourth at the MIAAs, became Spalding's first private schools' state runner-up and is approaching Jason Hardman's school-record 92 career wins. As a sophomore, Foster was MIAA runner-up and fourth at states.

Teammates John Seitz (130-135) and Zain Marfani (189) return. Marfani was third in both the MIAAs and states, and Seitz was fourth in the MIAAs and had a victory over over Gene Reid, South River's first state champ.

Pub Date: 12/05/96

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