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Freshmen wins clinch Owings Mills' first title


They're just boys -- freshmen Jason Jacovsky and Mike Kessler of Owings Mills. But yesterday they showed the poise of men in key bouts at Lansdowne, helping the Eagles earn the Class 2A-1A state dual-meet title with a 36-25 victory over defending champion Kent County High.

Kessler (125 pounds) raised his record to 32-0 with a 9-7 victory over former state champion Brian Fox, and Jacovsky (103) put the finishing touches on the first dual-meet state title for fourth-ranked Owings Mills (23-1), pinning Nick Redman in 4:33 and sending his teammates into a wild celebration.

"The way those two wrestled -- the way the whole team wrestled was unbelievable," said 20th-year coach Guy Pritzker. "I figured Jason could do it, but Kessler might be the hero of the day."

Kent (17-1), making its third straight title-match appearance, took a 6-0 lead on come-from-behind wins by Artie Kaehler (112) and Jeremie Yerkie (119). Kaehler overcame a 4-0 deficit to beat Dave Jacovsky, 12-7, and Yerkie fell behind 3-0 before edging Mike Cooper, 5-3.

But Kessler sparked a four-bout sweep for a 20-6 lead, skillfully outmaneuvering Fox and scoring five near-fall points.

"People were saying I hadn't been tested, so I'm glad I got to show my potential," said Kessler, whose older brothers Kevin (one), Gregg (three) and Steve (four) each won state titles.

Kessler was followed by consecutive pins from teammates Sasha Binder (130) and Clayton Arnold (135), and a 20-4 technical fall by Josh Hamilton (140) that included 11 near-fall points.

"Everyone's been saying we're not this or we're not that, so we came out here feeling like we had something to prove," Binder said.

A pin by Russell Conrad (145) and a 6-0 decision by Trey Kohl (152) pulled Kent to 20-15, but the Eagles widened the margin to 30-15 on a 10-2 decision by Eric Fischel (160) and a pin by Brian Summerlin (171). A pin by heavyweight Willie Leonard and a major decision by Joey Kirwan (189) again narrowed Kent's deficit to five, at 30-25. It needed another pin to win.

But Jason Jacovsky would have none of that.

"When it got to the 171 match, I definitely thought it would come down to me, but I was ready," said Jacovsky, who led 13-1 before pinning Redman.

The dual-meet championship was the second for Baltimore County. (Overlea was 2A-1A champion in 1999.) Although Pritzker has coached four state tournament championship teams, he fell short in the 1997 state duals final to Lackey.

David Jacovsky, one of seven seniors on the team, said the Eagles dedicated the season to former teammate, Kevin Garmzaban, who was shot to death in December at Owings Mills mall.

"I love my team. We worked so hard for this," Arnold said.

Earlier, the Eagles overcame a 14-6 deficit to No. 11 Hammond (14-3) and rolled to a 47-20 victory in the semifinals by winning seven of the last eight matches. The spree included pins from Jason and Dave Jacovsky, Cooper, Kessler and Jon Sparklin (heavyweight), a recent call-up from the JV. The win over Hammond also included a 50-second pin by Arnold, major decisions from Fischel and Paul Day (189) and Summerlin's decision.

Hammond won only four bouts, one of which was a forfeit to Russell Tebeleff (130).

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