DAMASCUS -- Hammond coach Paul DiRienzo admitted he didn't know much about No. 13 Overlea before yesterday's state Class 1A-2A dual-meet championship.
Now that he does, and after his defending state champs were trounced, 41-20, he thinks things might have been different.
"They got the breaks. We didn't," DiRienzo said. "On another day we beat them. Vaymond [Dennis] and Rob [Osborn] were both winning and got pinned. Vaymond tried to make something happen."
Nick LaSalle, one of only three Hammond wrestlers to win on the mat, also thinks Hammond would win a rematch. "We didn't wrestle with the same motivation and intensity as we did against Kent [a semifinal victory]. We weren't clapping on the bench. And all those pins [four] killed us."
The Falcons, seeded fourth, had only 12 wrestlers and had to forfeit one match. They had never won a state title or been to the state dual-meet championships.
"We're kind of a Rodney Dangerfield team. I had no idea we would do what we did," said coach Bruce Malinowski. "I was just hoping to keep it close until we got to 171 pounds."
Overlea (16-2) overcame some long odds and large deficits to win the state title. The Falcons trailed Franklin, 16-0, in the regional final and rallied to win by three points.
In yesterday's semifinals, they trailed Northern-Garrett, 26-19, with three matches left and pulled off a 31-26 victory. Zack Sergotick (171) and co-captains Justin Mitchell (189) and Michael Banks (Hwt.) all won.
They didn't need their comeback magic against No. 11 Hammond, which had beaten undefeated Kent, 35-23.
After Hammond's Jason Freiert won the 103-pound bout with a 45-second pin of Gerrard Anderson, almost everything went Overlea's way.
Alfred Clark won, 11-5, at 112 over Mike Azoulay, and Kwesi Hackette pulled off an unexpected pin of Tim Carter at 119 in just 40 seconds, spurring Carter to throw his anklet in disgust and earn an unsportsmanlike conduct call that cost Hammond one team point.
Jason Laubach, ranked No. 6 in the state at 119, defeated one of Hammond's better wrestlers at 125 pounds, Ryan Mackin, 6-1.
LaSalle edged Chaudhry Afzal at 130, 4-2, temporarily stopping the Hammond bleeding.
But James Laubach (23-2) delivered Hammond its most punishing blow by pinning third-ranked Dennis, at 135.
"After he took me down the first time I thought I could beat him," said Laubach, who pinned Dennis in a cradle. "He tried to muscle me and you can't beat me that way."
The downward spiral continued for the Bears at 140 when Osborn, winning 6-2 at one point, was pinned by Yinka Ajiboye with 20 seconds left. That gave the Falcons a 24-8 lead. And when Overlea's Derrick Oxendine (27-1) won at 145, the lead was 28-8.
Hammond (12-4) was given a six-point forfeit at 152, but the Falcons won the next three bouts with Abidemi Kassim decisioning Pat Jameson, 6-4, at 160, Sergotick scoring a 16-7 major over Kevin Chrapaty at 171 and Mitchell pinning Scott Wallace in 1: 27.
Matt Nelson's heavyweight pin of Banks offered little consolation to the Bears.
Pub Date: 2/14/99