By half a point, Hammond won its fourth straight Howard County wrestling championship last night at River Hill.
The Bears needed a pin from heavyweight Matt Nelson to win it, and he came through with 45 seconds left in his bout against Mount Hebron's Karol Gryczynski. Hammond outpointed runner-up River Hill, 178-177 1/2.
"My coaches told me I had to pin and I didn't think I was going to get it," said Nelson (24-4), a county and state runner-up last season. Nelson had beaten Gryczynski, 14-1, earlier this season and had pinned his way to the finals. "It was fun. I like that kind of pressure."
The Golden Bears, winners of six of the last seven titles, were pushed to their limit by River Hill, but the Hawks could not overcome a costly injury to 103-pounder Danny Allen in the semifinals.
Brian Frank (18-4) of Howard won the most competitive weight class at 125 pounds, decisioning Ryan Mackin of Hammond, 5-0, and winning the Outstanding Wrestler Award. Frank lost to Mackin earlier this season, 3-2.
Hammond sent six wrestlers to the finals, winning three. River Hill sent five to the finals, winning three. Atholton and Mount Hebron had four finalists.
The key match for Hammond was Mark Read's 9-6 victory over River Hill's Scott Buescher at 145 pounds. Read (23-5) also had beaten Buescher in close, crucial matches in the county-dual meet and regional dual-meet championships.
"It feels good to win another county team championship and to know that my match might have put us over the edge," said Read, a county runner-up last season.
Senior Vaymond Dennis (28-4) of Hammond, a defending county and state champion, pinned Mike Mengel of Mount Hebron in 4: 44. Dennis advanced to the finals on two pins. Dennis, a three-time county champ, improved his career mark to 128-29.
Defending state and county champ Brandon Lauer (30-0) of River Hill extended his career winning streak to 65-0 by capturing the 112-pound title in a technical fall over Bryan Radik of Atholton. Lauer, a junior, reached the finals on two pins.
"We thought we had a shot to win coming in, but Allen's default in the semis hurt us big time," said Lauer. "We thought he could be a finalist, instead he finished sixth."
Ryan Green (25-5) of River Hill was the only freshman to win a county title as he decisioned Mike Shoemaker of Atholton, 5-0. Green, who like Lauer dropped down a weight class for the tournament, called Shoemaker his toughest opponent this season.
Jason Fawcett (23-3) of River Hill pinned Brian Mullinix of Atholton in 4: 43. But River Hill's Justin Curtis lost a crucial match at 189 pounds to Rob Scott of Oakland Mills, 5-3.
Jeff Walker (22-5) of Mount Hebron won his school's first county wrestling title since 1993, decisioning Pat Jameson of Hammond, 7-2. Jameson, a county runner-up last season, had pinned Walker, a senior earlier this season.
Long Reach senior J. C. Porter, a county champ his sophomore year but unable to defend his title last season because of an injury, won the 130-pound championship over Nick LaSalle of Hammond by major decision, 12-4. Long Reach teammate Mike Augustine, a junior, won the 160-pound title, 10-3, over top-seeded Nick Cummins of Mount Hebron. Cummins had beaten Augustine earlier this season.
Adam Roth (25-6) of Atholton scored a late reversal and back points to defeat Tim Brosenne of Glenelg, 9-6. Roth trailed 6-4 with 37 seconds left after Brosenne scored a takedown. Roth won his semifinal bout in overtime after tying it with two seconds left.
Pub Date: 2/21/99