Wrestler of the Year
Josh White, St. Mary's, Sr., 171 (30-3): White, ranked No. 1 in the state, pinned 22 opponents and won the Maryland privates schools state and MIAA tournament titles after being runner-up in the latter the previous season. Each of White's crowns came over Gilman's No. 3 Damian Davis. White, who pinned his first 12 opponents of the season, ends his high school career with a 121-20 record. His three losses this year came against two wrestlers from Pennsylvania and one from New Jersey, two by two-point decisions. White was fourth at the National Preps Tournament, losing in the semifinals to eventual champ Conan Leary of Tabor Academy in Pennsylvania. He thoroughly dominated even the most quality opposition, including a technical fall over region champ Jimmy Stone (Northern), and a pin of City's James Thaxton.
Coaches of the Year
Buddy Hepfer, Arundel: Hepfer had just four seniors and returned only four state qualifiers, yet coached his team through a dominant season. The Wildcats (18-0), ranked No. 2 by The Sun, completed the season with a school-record 18-0 mark and the county's first 3A-4A dual-meet state title. They also were ranked as high as No. 4 in the state, and scored a record 241 points at the county meet -- 68 more than runner-up Old Mill. Hepfer's Wildcats also won their second straight regional tournament crown -- the ninth in his 29 seasons -- and qualified 12 wrestlers for the state tournament, tying the record set by Old Mill. Rob Connolly (160, third) and Brian Schroeder (125, fourth) placed at the states. "We don't have many studs on this team, but it's a real team of kids that rely on each other and pick each other up, emotionally," said Hepfer, 52, who will return eight state qualifiers to next year's veteran team.
Frank Buckland, Spalding: Buckland, a former coach with the Arden Attackers junior-league program, and his coaching staff, which included Roger Taylor, took the Cavaliers to new heights this season. In addition to winning the private schools state title in the B Division, Spalding won tournaments at St. Michael's and Sidwell Friends, and finished second at St. Mary's Ryken and Boys' Latin. It was the first season in which the Cavaliers won a tournament. Zane Marfani (189, 30-4, 21 pins) finished second at the states, Jimmy Foster (130, 31-8) was third, John Seitz (135, 28-11) fourth, and Tom Hartka (112, 27-8), Jason Heffernan (145, 34-10) and Tom Bunce (heavyweight, 24-14) all finished fifth. Ben Ferguson, at 152, also had a good record at 27-14 while wrestling against opponents from powers such as Mount St. Joseph (No. 1 in the state), Curley (No. 6) and McDonogh (ranked as high as No. 10). At the states, Spalding finished
ahead of traditional A Conference powers Gilman and Loyola, as well as St. Mary's and John Carroll -- also of the A Conference. "We'll return about 16 wrestlers and eight starters next year," Buckland said. "We hope to pick up where we left off."
First team at a glance
Nate Brooks, Annapolis, Soph., heavyweight (20-4): weight (20-4): Though just a first-year wrestler, Brooks' size (6 feet 4, 277) and poise often gave him an intimidating edge against opponents. He finished the year with 17 pins, a county championship and a region runner-up finish.
Carl Cicchetti, Chesapeake, Sr., 160 pounds (26-2): The slender Cicchetti (15 pins), ranked No. 4 in the state, used balance and sound technical skills to win the county title after being second the year before, and his second straight regional title. Along the way, he beat Baltimore City champs Leonard Bridgeforth (Patterson) and Dominique Camper (City) and twice defeated region champ WT Aye (North County). Cicchetti, fourth at the states last year, lost only two decisions, both to National Prep champ Sal Aquia. Torn cartilage forced him to default from the states after wrestling to the semifinals.
Chris Combs, Old Mill, Soph., 112 (35-1): Combs, ranked No. 2 in the state, became the first sophomore to win a state title in school history. He also won his second straight county title and, after being second at the regions last year, his first region crown. Combs outscored his region opponents by a combined 22-3, and at the states scored a pin, decision, major decision and default to win. This season, Combs (15 pins) has beaten three-time Carroll County and region champ Bobby Biden (Westminster, third in the states), Howard County champ J. C. Porter (Long Reach), state runner-up Nick Delonga (DeMatha) and county and region champ Ian Young (North Hagerstown). DeMatha's state champ Kyle Beckerman handed Combs his only loss, 6-1, on a last-second move.
Bobby Couch, Northeast, Soph., 103 (31-4): Couch (10 pins) won the county title and was third in both the regions and the states. Couch won his only meeting, 2-1, over Southern's No. 5 Nick Alley, the region and state champ. His season also included victories over SMAC runner-up Blair Surgent (Calvert), SMAC and region champ Peter Lee (Lackey), Baltimore County champ Chris Knox and region champ John Narlis (Towson).
Chad Duncan, Chesapeake, Sr., 171 (30-6): Duncan secured his second consecutive county and region titles and notched 12 pins in the process. Opponents came at him harder this season, and as a result, Duncan, also an accomplished baseball player and running back in football, developed well on his takedowns. Notable victories came over Montgomery County champ Chris Hammond and Howard County champ Brian Frizzelle (Oakland Mills).
Tyrone Eaton, Northeast, Sr., 145 (27-1): Eaton won the county and regional crowns after finishing second and fourth the previous seasons, and topped out with a 10-4 state title victory over Middletowne's No. 5 Zane Harshman. Eaton, whose only loss (3-2 at 160 pounds) was to two-time state runner-up Isaac Haertel of Arundel, pinned just 12 wrestlers. But his takedown technique lifted him to victories over county and region champ Graham Harris (Arundel), Cecil County champ Roy Orr (Rising Sun), Howard County champ Tim McGrail (Hammond), SMAC runner-up Jason Webster (McDonough), Carroll County and region champ Jason Hamper (South Carroll) and District 8 champ Scott Taylor (Mardela).
Jimmy Foster, Spalding, Sr., 130 (31-8): Foster finished his three-year career with a school-record 105 victories against just 26 losses with 52 career falls. He was third at private school states this season, and fourth at the MIAAs. Big wins this season came over Curley's No. 6 Paul Boettcher and North Hagerstown's region runner-up Kane Staley. As a sophomore, Foster was fourth at the states, second at MIAAs. He was second at the states and fourth at the MIAAs last season.
Isaac Haertel, Arundel, Sr., 152 (32-3): Haertel is Arundel's winningest wrestler with a 111-17 career record (67 pins). He's a two-time county champ and two-time state place-winner. This season he has beaten Eaton, Carroll County champ Adam Boog (North Carroll), and pinned Prince George's County champ Andre Butler (Douglass), Montgomery County runner-up Eric Gebicke (Sherwood) and region champ Anthony Brown (Northeast). Haertel who had 21 pins and is ranked No. 6 in the state, is 2-2 against North County's WT Aye, having beaten him by a combined 24-7.
Graham Harris, Arundel, Jr., 140 (31-4): Harris, a solid all-around wrestler, won his first county and region crowns and had impressive wins over Montgomery County champ Sam Ellis (Sherwood), region champ Brandon Finney (Wilde Lake), Baltimore City champ Dennis Perry (Dunbar), city runner-up Richard Johnson (Patterson) and Carroll County champ Mike Muller (South Carroll), who was fourth at states at 145.
Ryan Howard, Chesapeake, Jr., 125 (20-7): Howard is a pinner, with two of his 13 falls coming over Arundel's region champ Brian Schroeder, who was fourth at the states. Howard pinned Schroeder for the county title, and also had a win over county champ Pat Ortman (Arundel).
Wayne Nichols, Arundel, Sr., 130 (35-7): After finishing with a losing record last year, Nichols was perhaps the Wildcats' most improved wrestler. After being runner-up to Old Mill's Rich Sampson at the counties, Nichols (20 pins) thrashed him, 13-3, in the region semifinals on the way to winning the region crown. Nichols also defeated city champs Victor Ghee (Northern) and ++ Andrew Wooden (Southwestern). Four of his losses came at 135.
Pat Ortman, Arundel, Soph., 119 (26-10): Ortman (12 pins) won his first county title after being second a year ago at 103 pounds. While wrestling at 125 pounds early in the season, Ortman won the season-opening Meade Invitational. Like his teammates, Ortman, who was third at regions, benefited greatly by later dropping to 119.
Rich Sampson, Old Mill, Jr., 130 (30-8): Sampson (12 pins) won his second straight county title over Nichols and repeated his third-place effort at the regionals. One of most well-conditioned wrestlers -- he runs several miles each day -- Sampson was third at the Annapolis tournament and a runner-up at the Francis Scott Key tournament.
Gary Serago, Old Mill, Sr., 135 (25-6): An excellent technical wrestler, Serago (nine pins), has beaten Arundel's Harris and two-time Prince George's County runner-up Richie Sinkovitz (Roosevelt) -- both while at 140 pounds. He also has beaten region runner-up Matt Ormsby (Broadneck) and SMAC champ Casey Fitzpatrick (Thomas Stone).
Tony Serio, Northeast, Sr., 189 (26-4): Serio (nine pins) won the county and region titles and was fourth at the states. Excellent on his feet, Serio's powerful upper body allowed him to create space to set up takedowns. Notable victories came over Kent's state runner-up Gordon Boyer and two-time Montgomery County champ Tim Miller.
Coaches of the Year: Buddy Hepfer, Arundel; Frank Buckland, Archbishop Spalding Wrestler of the Year: Josh White, St. Mary's First team
Weight, Name, School, Year
103, Bobby Couch, Northeast, Sophomore
112, Chris Combs, Old Mill, Sophomore
119, Pat Ortman, Arundel, Sophomore
125, Ryan Howard, Chesapeake, Junior
130, Wayne Nichols, Arundel, Senior
130, Rich Sampson, Old Mill, Junior
130, Jimmy Foster, Arch. Spalding, Senior
135, Gary Serago, Old Mill, Senior
140, Graham Harris, Arundel, Junior
145, Tyrone Eaton, Northeast, Senior
152, Isaac Haertel, Arundel, Senior
160, Carl Cicchetti, Chesapeake, Senior
171, Chad Duncan, Chesapeake, Senior
171, Josh White, St. Mary's, Senior
189, Tony Serio, Northeast, Senior
Hwt., Nate Brooks, Annapolis, Sophomore
103, Nick Alley, Southern-Harwood, Sophomore
103, Dan Hemminger, Annapolis, Sophomore
112, Matt Pandullo, Meade, Sophomore
119, Chris Deadder, Old Mill, Junior
119, Mike Stewart, Severna Park, Senior
125, Brian Schroeder, Arundel, Junior
135, John Seitz, Arch. Spalding, Junior
135, Andrew Hemminger, Annapolis, Sophomore
140, Phil Glenn, Southern-Harwood, Junior
145, Jason Heffernan, Arch. Spalding, Sophomore
152, WT Aye, North County, Junior
152, Anthony Brown, Northeast, Senior
160, Rob Connolly, Arundel, Junior
171, Michawn Yuvienco, North County, Junior
189, Zane Marfani, Arch. Spalding, Senior
189, Ernie Listman, St. Mary's, Senior
189, Ben Hines, Old Mill, Senior
Hwt., Dane Johnson, Old Mill, Senior
Picking the teams
The Baltimore Sun 1997 All-Anne Arundel County Wrestling Teams were selected by Lem Satterfield after consultation with staff writers and area coaches.
Pub Date: 3/11/97