Not often do three of the top five area wrestling teams compete against one another in the same tournament.
No. 1 Curley, No. 4 South Carroll and No. 5 Hammond square off this weekend in the Hammond Invitational.
Add to that auspicious lineup St. Mark's of Delaware, DeMatha from Washington, No. 6 Gilman and 12th-ranked perennial power Mount St. Joseph of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, and powerful Lackey, and you have the makings of one of the year's best tournaments.
Curley, DeMatha, Gilman, South Carroll and Hammond are ranked Nos. 1, 2, 5, 8 and 9, respectively by the Maryland State Wrestling Association. The event features 25 state-ranked wrestlers.
This may be the last time the tournament is held at Hammond, however, because tournament officials are looking to expand the field from 21 teams this year to 35 teams next year.
That would require moving the tournament to Western Maryland College, said Golden Bears co-coach Paul DiRienzo.
Hammond tuned up for its own tournament by competing at the prestigious Virginia Duals last weekend, featuring 40 of the top high school teams from around the country, Hammond lost both its matches but gained invaluable experience.
The Bears were beaten by Brother Martin of Louisiana, 50-18, and Parkersburg of West Virginia, 35-32.
Undefeated Vaymond Dennis (13-0) won both his matches at 135 pounds. Mark Read at 145 pounds also won both his matches, as did Jason Freiert at 103 pounds.
Hammond, the defending state Class 1A-2A state dual-meet champion, has a 5-3 overall dual-meet record that includes a loss to South Carroll and victories over Calvert Hall, St. Paul's, Howard, Atholton and Glenelg.
Hammond got past surprising Atholton last week, 29-21. "We're still very young in some places," DiRienzo said.
Raiders looking good
Atholton (6-3, 3-1), which will wrestle at the South River Tournament this weekend, is a young team with only one senior. In addition to Hammond, it has lost to South Carroll and McDonough of Charles County.
DiRienzo expects Atholton to challenge for the county tournament title. "They have some strong wrestlers," he said.
The Raiders are led by Brian Mullinix (189), who is 11-2 overall and undefeated in dual meets. Mullinix was a state qualifier who finished third in the county last season.
Atholton has depth with sophomore Brian Radik (112) at 11-3. He was a state qualifier and county runner-up.
Other Raiders having successful seasons include Mike Shoemaker (119) at 11-3, Doug Ramsey (103) at 11-4, Jason Hanfman (125) at 9-4, David Loeffler (130) at 12-3, Adam Roth (140) at 11-4 and Mark Carbone (171) at 9-2.
"Roth lost 20-11 to Vaymond Dennis, but took down Dennis twice. Dennis almost never gets taken down," Atholton coach Bruce Lindblad said.
Atholton also expects a lot from Sean Aaron at 171 pounds as he makes the transition from star football player to wrestling.
Atholton won only four matches last season, two matches the year before that, and none three seasons ago, so the Raiders have already won as many matches as they did in the past three seasons combined. This is Lindblad's fourth season as coach.
"It's a lot more fun when you win, and we are headed in the right direction," Lindblad said. "We finished fourth at the Chopticon tournament, just two points behind South Hagerstown."
More mat notes
Three teams were winless as of Monday, including Mount Hebron (0-8, 0-4), Howard (0-9, 0-4) and Centennial (0-9, 0-4).
Centennial has just one wrestler with a winning record, Matt Hemler (125), who is 6-1.
The Eagles have not been filling three weight classes. They expect Nick Perez (130) to return this week after missing three matches with a broken finger.
Howard has two successful wrestlers despite the poor team record.
Brian Frank (130) is 9-2 and defeated tough Glenelg opponent John Clark last week.
The Lions' Matt Mongello (135) is 9-3, including a loss to Vaymond Dennis.
Howard also has Daniel Frank (119), a sophomore who is 7-6 but lost three matches by default trying to wrestle despite a loose tooth that was nearly dislodged during a match against Oakland Mills.
"We thought he'd lose the top front tooth. He put a mask on and tried to wrestle but was in too much pain," said Howard coach Roger Conlon.
Pub Date: 1/13/99