INDIAN HEAD -- Three was the magic number for the Hammond Bears at the Lackey Tournament yesterday.
The Bears won their third straight Lackey Tournament championship. And the tournament produced three memorable individual firsts.
It was the first time that seniors Vaymond Dennis (135 pounds) and Mark Read (145 pounds) won Lackey titles.
And it was the first tournament title for Hammond's new head coaches, Paul DiRienzo and Scott Farrow, whose squad bounced back from a season-opening dual- meet loss to South Carroll Wednesday.
"For a while we couldn't believe we were winning because we were wrestling sloppy," Farrow said.
"But it's all fixable stuff," DiRienzo said. "We just have to fine tune from here on in."
Dennis, a defending state champion who had never finished higher than third at Lackey, took control of his match with two first-period takedowns over his South River opponent and then dominated, 12-5.
The victory improved Dennis' record to 6-0 this season and gave him 105 career wins, just two away from the school record held by John Motley.
Dennis had scored two pins and a major decision to reach the finals.
"I was feeling tired but I just kept working hard," Dennis said.
Read moved into the finals on a forfeit, a technical fall and a fall. Then he pinned his Northeast opponent in 5: 28.
"I was the second seed and didn't know anybody in my bracket," said Read, who was a Howard County runner-up last season. It was his first high school tournament victory.
Hammond, the state dual meet and Class 1A-2A tournament champions last season, had two shots at additional individual titles but Pat Jameson (152 pounds) lost, 5-1, and Matt Nelson (275 pounds) lost, 7-3.
Jameson reached the finals on two pins and a 4-2 semifinal victory and Nelson on a bye and two falls.
Nelson, who was coming off a football injury and had practiced only three days, was beaten by the state third-place Class 3A-4A finisher. Nelson finished second in the state Class 1A-2A division.
The Bears also had two third-place finishers, Jason Freiert (103 pounds) and Ryan Mackin (125 pounds). Rob Osborn (140 pounds) finished fourth and Nick LaSalle (130 pounds) fifth.
"We thought Mackin and LaSalle would make the finals," DiRienzo said.
The tournament's biggest surprise for Hammond was 112-pound sophomore Mike Azoulay, a first-year varsity wrestler who earned two pins.
Pub Date: 12/13/98