Hammond's Scott Wallace was a most unlikely hero for the Golden Bears as they won the Class 1A-2A South region dual-meet championship yesterday over River Hill, 33-24.
Hammond (13-3) will attempt to defend its state dual-meet title Saturday at Damascus.
Wallace, a sophomore 189-pounder whose only previous varsity win was by forfeit, upset River Hill's Justin Curtis, 4-3, scoring the winning point with 20 seconds left when Curtis was penalized a point for grabbing Wallace's headgear.
The victory was important personally, too. With it, Wallace earned a varsity letter.
"He was a throw-in," said Hammond coach Paul DiRienzo, who put Wallace on the mat as a substitute for the injured Mike Cameron. "We were just hoping he could avoid getting pinned."
At the time, Hammond clung to a precarious 26-24 lead. Had Wallace been pinned, the Bears would have trailed 30-26 going into the heavyweight bout before a large crowd at River Hill.
"I went at him like there was no tomorrow," Wallace said. "I was just hoping he'd make a mistake and back off so I could take him down."
Another key performer for Hammond, which defeated River Hill in an equally tense match for the county title last week, was Kevin Chrapaty at 160 pounds.
Chrapaty went ahead of freshman David Borys, 4-3, on an escape with 48 seconds left, but a stalling point with six seconds left gave Borys a tie. The two officials ruled against awarding him a last-second takedown.
Chrapaty then earned a takedown 19 seconds into overtime.
"When they almost gave the River Hill guy a takedown, I thought I had lost, and it made me mad," Chrapaty said. "Once I got his leg in overtime, I knew it was over."
Another crucial victory for Hammond was Nick LaSalle's 5-4 decision over Mike Romano at 130 pounds. LaSalle, who had beaten Romano in overtime last week, scored a takedown with 12 seconds left.
"I was waiting for him to wear out in the third period," LaSalle said.
Hammond's Mark Read, whose coaches were counting on him for a pin at 145 pounds, was pushed to his limit by Scott Buescher before winning 15-13 on a reversal with 25 seconds left.
Ryan Mackin gave the Bears a huge boost by his return from an injury. Mackin, who had missed eight matches, scored a major decision at 125 pounds over junior-league teammate Ryan Green.
Other Hammond winners were Jason Freiert at 103, Vaymond Dennis at 140, Pat Jameson at 152 and Matt Nelson at heavyweight.
River Hill (11-2-1), which defeated Oakland Mills in the semifinals, 40-25, received pins from Mike Dauberman (112), Brandon Lauer (119), Justin Clark (135) and Jason Fawcett (171) to account for all of its 24 points.
Hammond defeated Montgomery County's Einstein in the semifinals, 37-25, as Jameson, Carter and Chrapaty earned pins.
Pub Date: 2/11/99