DAMASCUS -- It was about earning respect. Now Overlea has some. The No. 13-ranked Falcons are state Class 1A-2A dual-meet champs -- the first Baltimore County team to earn that distinction.
The Falcons were seeded fourth in the four-team state dual-meet championships. They 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.
Their opponent, No. 11-ranked Hammond, had won two of the last three dual-meet state titles, and expected to win another.
"We're kind of a Rodney Dangerfield team. I had no idea we would do what we did," said coach Bruce Malinowski, whose Falcons trounced Hammond, 41-20. "I was just hoping to keep it close until we got to 171 pounds."
Malinowski, who will be shaving his goatee and all his hair in the wake of Overlea's unexpected victory, was praised by his wrestlers as the reason for their victory.
The seventh-year Overlea coach, a two-time state champ when he wrestled for Kenwood, said his team has only two people who wrestled in recreation leagues before high school.
"This just proves you can excel in a short time with hard work and dedication and that you don't have to start wrestling as a 6-year-old."
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 Sergotic (171) and co-captains Justin Mitchell (189) and Michael Banks (Hwt.) all won.
They didn't need their comeback magic against Hammond, which had beaten a young but undefeated Kent team in the semifinals, 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.
Nick 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 Vaymond Dennis, at 135 pounds.
The downward spiral continued for the Bears at 140 when Rob 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, Zack Sergotick scoring a 16-7 major over Kevin Chrapaty at 171 and Mitchell pinning Scott Wallace in 1: 27.
Pub Date: 2/14/99