A week ago, Hammond needed a pin by heavyweight Matt Nelson to secure its fourth straight Howard County championship.
By the time Nelson wrestled last night in the finals of the 1A-2A, South Region tournament at River Hill, the team championship had long been decided.
After the first championship match.
Jason Freiert's pin of McDonough's Ryan Turner at 3: 28 earned him the 103-pound title and gave No. 10 Hammond all the points it needed to successfully defend its title.
The Golden Bears, who beat River Hill by half a point in the county championship, had a more comfortable margin this time over the second-place Hawks, 130-113 1/2. Einstein (99) took third, followed by Lackey (93), Atholton (89), Howard (63.5) and Mount Hebron (56).
Hammond had two other champions -- Vaymond Dennis (135) and Nelson (Hwt.), and Mark Read (145) finished second.
River Hill was the other county school with multiple winners -- Brandon Lauer (112) and Jason Fawcett (171). Mount Hebron's Nick Cummins (160) and Oakland Mills' Robert Scott (189) also earned championships.
The top four finishers in each division advance to next weekend's state tournament at Western Maryland College in Westminster.
Hammond won the state title a year ago, and co-coach Paul Dinenzo is confident the Golden Bears can win one more time this season.
"We have to stay focused for one more week, but I like our chances," Dinenzo said.
Cummins's victory was special because it has been many years since Mount Hebron has had a regional champion.
Cummins said the win was "real important, especially coming off an upsetting county performance." Cummins was seeded No. 1 in last week's county match but finished as the runner-up.
"It's my first trip to the states, and I'm pretty excited," Cummins said. "I'll go out and do my best and see what happens."
Mount Hebron coach Michael Duffy said Cummins (24-6) is "a great kid and the hardest worker I've seen. He's earned everything he's gotten."
Scott (28-3), who won a county title last week, pinned Lorenzo Wilson of Potomac in 4: 52. A hard work ethic has propelled Scott to the top, and the sophomore said, "I'm going to try and bring [a state title] home for the team."
Fawcett (26-3) beat Atholton's Brian Mullinix for the fourth time this season, including last week's county final. "I have a lot of respect for him as a person and as a wrestler," Fawcett said of his fellow junior.
Fawcett said he felt ill yesterday and "didn't have any energy. But I guess I got up enough for the match."
Dennis, a senior, is a three-time county champion and last year's state champion at 112. He earned his second straight region title with a major decision (14-4) over Kevin Hunt of Einstein.
"I thought I had him stuck in the third period with the cradle," said Dennis, who beat Hunt, 7-1, in the Hammond tournament. "I didn't really mind, though, because I knew I was winning and as long as I had him in the cradle, time was running out."
Dennis, 5-foot-2, is wrestling up so that senior teammate Nick LaSalle can go at 130 and he can face tougher opponents.
"I wanted more competition so when I wrestle next year in college I'll be used to wrestling tough guys," Dennis said.
Lauer, the only unbeaten county wrestler (33-0), beat Atholton's Bryan Radik by technical fall in last week's county final and did so last night, 19-2.
"I was a lot more focused. I'm trying to prepare for the states," said Lauer, 68-0 in high school.
Nelson (27-4) took second last year in the regional and state tournaments, and he's halfway there to reversing those finishes this season.
"I'm more focused," said Nelson, who pinned Lackey's James Dunkle in 3: 18. "If I don't get a big head, I'm sure I'll do all right."
Howard's Brian Frank (125) and Matthew Mongello (140) finished second in the finals, as did Hammond's Mark Read (145).
Pub Date: 2/28/99