Tenth-ranked Old Mill boasts just three seniors, yet the entire team wrestled with veteran poise in dethroning host and No. 13 Francis Scott Key, 172-159, in the Eagles' 29th annual eight-team Christmas Tournament yesterday.
The Patriots placed 11 wrestlers within the top four compared to Key's nine (four titlists), but none of Old Mill's three underclassmen champs had easy bouts.
Sixth-ranked Anne Arundel County champ Chris Combs (112 pounds, 14-0) -- pinned in last year's final -- ground out a 6-3 decision of Long Reach's J. C. Porter (6-1, four pins); Chris Deadder (119, 6-0) escaped with 40 seconds left to win a battle of unbeatens, 10-9, over Catoctin's Chad Dewees (10-1, six pins); and Dave Hicks (125), down 6-2 and nearly pinned in the first period, decked Francis Scott Key's Clint Day with 11 seconds left.
Their determination overcame a mild upset, as No. 5 Gary Serago (140), one of Old Mill's three seniors, was pinned by Catoctin's region champ -- and the chosen Outstanding Wrestler -- Jeremy Fuss (11-0, nine pins) at 3: 16.
"Last year, I wrestled JV here and got second," said Deadder, a junior who was on last year's 7-5 squad -- the worst record in the 22-year tenure of coach Mike Hampe, winner of six state titles. "Dave Hicks is a freshman, but he realizes we have to come through when it counts. This is the first step in returning to Old Mill's tradition."
The Eagles' champs were No. 6 Matt Yinger (130, 9-1), Frank Hansborough (145), Bobby Bollinger (189) and Mark Plank (Hwt., 10-1, eight pins). Hansborough edged Old Mill's Eric Hultgren, 10-9; Yinger -- a third-time tournament winner -- overcame a 6-3 third-period deficit to beat Catoctin's Chris Ryder (9-2) by 7-6; Bollinger downed Catoctin's Dave Miller, 8-4; and Plank held off Bel Air's Jeremiah Albright (11-3) by 2-0.
Glenelg's Howard County champs, Jimmy O'Connor (135, 9-0) and No. 2 Jeremy Lignelli (160, 11-0) added titles to the ones they won at Chopticon, and teammate Kevin Ferguson (171, 7-0) edged Francis Scott Key's Ryan Roach, 6-5.
O'Connor downed county champ Rich Sampson (Old Mill), 7-3, and Lignelli, a state champ, won his 102nd career bout, 10-3, over Francis Scott Key's Brett Cowan.
Bel Air's Harford County champs Brad Stone (103, 11-1) and Tim Smallwood (152, 11-3) each were victorious.
Stone, a runner-up at the earlier North East Tournament, outlasted North Hagerstown's previously unbeaten Rob Wells (7-1) by 5-4, and Smallwood won his second FSK tournament, 7-4, over Roosevelt's Billy Finererin (7-2).
Pub Date: 12/28/96