Arundel's depth proved the difference in yesterday's 12-team, 18th annual Arundel Holiday tournament, as the No. 6 Wildcats ** placed 13 wrestlers in the top five -- with three champs -- to overcome an upset of their top wrestler and six champs by No. 5 Curley.
Arundel's titlists were Pat Crouse (119, 10-1), Graham Harris (145, 11-0) and Jeff Blachly (189, 8-0), a true 171-pounder who edged Loyola's Pat Brannon, 7-5, in overtime as their team won, 214-to-199. But No. 5 Isaac Haertel (152, 11-1), Arundel's two-time state runner-up, lost his semifinal bout, 8-7, to North County's WT Aye (11-2). Aye, who has lost twice to Chesapeake's No. 5 Carl Cicchetti (8-1), later pinned Chesapeake's Keith Puller (10-2) for the title.
Champs for Curley were Brian Bricker (103, 16-0), Mike Frey (112, 14-4), Shawn Calhoun (125, 11-4), No. 6 Paul Boettcher (130, 14-2), and state champs Mike Boettcher (140, 14-4) and Sal Aquia (160, 14-1).
Crouse, a county and region runner-up, pinned his sixth and seventh opponents in the first period, then drilled Meade's Ace Custodio in a 20-5 technical fall that included 15 near-fall points. Harris held off Wilde Lake's muscular Brandon Finney, 6-3.
"Everybody came in wanting to win this, and we came through," said Crouse, a sophomore.
Said Harris: "It felt great, and it's another step in the right direction, but we know we have room to improve."
Calling his loss "a wake-up call," Haertel, who can become Arundel's first three-time state place winner, finished third along with teammates Greg Klingler (112), Pat Ortman (125), Brian Schroeder (130), Rob Connally (160) and Bobby Kilby (Hwt.).
Paul Boettcher and Aquia secured their second straight Arundel crowns to go with those they won at North East. Boettcher's 11th pin, in just 1: 06, came over Chesapeake's Josh Boyd (9-3), and Aquia used four takedowns in a 9-5 win over Cicchetti. Mike Boettcher secured his second straight crown, 10-0, over Mount Hebron's county runner-up James Thomas (11-2, eight pins).
A second-year wrestler who trailed, 2-1, entering the third period, Bricker's early escape, followed by a takedown with 38 seconds left secured a 4-2 decision over Howard senior Kapil Bhanot (9-2). Bricker also has won titles at North East and Curley.
Frey built an 8-3 lead over Meade's Matt Pandullo, a champ at 103 last year, then fought off his back in the closing moments to win, 8-7. Pandullo beat Frey, 6-0, in last year's semifinal. Calhoun handed Chesapeake's Ryan Howard (7-1) his first loss, 6-3.
"We expected to have as many champs, but we needed better efforts from the consolations," said Mike Boettcher. "Our 189-pounder [J.D. Mislak] was the top seed but was hurt. We missed him."
A rematch of last year's Howard County final featured Howard's No. 4 heavyweight Brian Neal (11-0, all pins) decking Centennial's Aaron Perkins (8-1, five pins) in just 1: 21. Neal, a county and region champ, out-weighed Perkins, 255-to-230, and has beaten him eight of nine times.
No. 15 Chesapeake's county and region champ Chad Duncan (171, 11-0), ranked No. 6, edged Arundel's Matt Neidig (9-2) by 5-4 to remain unbeaten, and Harford County champ Mike Reilly (135) of C. Milton Wright improved to 10-2 with a 9-5 victory over Loyola's Greg Miller (11-4).
Pub Date: 12/29/96