As competitive as last weekend's county wrestling tournament was - Old Mill edged Arundel by a half-point - Chesapeake coach Rex Miller expects things to be even tougher at the Class 4A-3A East region tournament this weekend at Meade.
"With the three Harford teams in [Fallston, C. Milton Wright and Bel Air], it makes it an even tougher tournament. And that's exactly what you want to help get kids ready for the state tournament," said Miller, whose Cougars placed third in the county tournament.
Miller said the 119-pound class was an example of the stiffer competition. His undefeated senior standout, Corey Bowers, who became the fourth county wrestler to win four county titles, will face Meade sophomore Ben Harvey (19-10) in the first round. In the county tournament, Bowers (25-0) didn't see Harvey until the semifinals.
Chesapeake has four top seeds in the regional meet, but is concerned about senior 160-pounder Seppi Serio, who missed the county tournament with an injured shoulder.
Justin Bowser (31-0), a 112-pound sophomore, and the Stiffler brothers - 125-pounder Andrew (31-2) and 135-pounder Brian (29-3) - are top seeds for Arundel. Old Mill, with senior 130-pounder Doug West its lone top seed, will again rely on its depth.
After winning his second straight county title on Saturday, Annapolis senior Andrew Smith (25-0), a 145-pounder, said he hopes a new strategy will help him gain his first state championship.
Last year, he went through the region undefeated before ending up fifth in the state meet.
"I'm gradually peaking," he said, "whereas last year I made a big push at counties and regions, then fell flat at states," he said.
Old Mill junior Ed Roderick, a 7-6 winner over Arundel's Josh Hayghe in the 152-pound class -- vital in the Patriots' team win - produced the county meet's most dramatic third period. Roderick overcame a 4-1 deficit to take a 5-4 lead before Hayghe got a reversal to lead 5-4. Roderick answered with a reversal with 30 seconds left and hung on.
"That was intense - 30 seconds never went by so slow," Roderick said.
Going in as the fourth seed at 171, Chesapeake's Jake Couch, now 22-6, came through when it counted most. After upsetting South River's top seed, Darren Capizzi, in the semifinals, he got past Glen Burnie's second seed, Jake Jones, to win a second straight county title.
Room to maneuver
Along with a big second half from standout junior guard Sarah Meisenberg (23 points) and a fine all-around inside effort from senior forward Jess Adam, Severn coach Chuck Miller said there was another factor that helped the Admirals to their 54-47 win over St. Paul's in Sunday's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's B Conference girls basketball crown at Villa Julie College - more space.
"Honestly, I believe it was the big floor," said Miller, whose team had suffered two regular-season losses to the top-seeded Gators. "Both times we played them [in the regular season], I think our kids played as hard as we could play.
"They're bigger than us, they're stronger than us and they play tenacious defense. I think the extra six or eight feet that we got, we were able to spread them out and got a few more shots this time that we didn't get before."
The title, the program's first, was particularly special for Adam, the team's only senior. Also a standout in field hockey and lacrosse, she was playing in her first championship game in any sport and made the most of her time with nine points, 15 rebounds and five steals.
St. Mary's junior guard Bri Gauthier was named an IAAM A Conference All-Star. Meisenberg represented the Admirals in the B Conference and Key School's Katherine Chaney was a selection in the C Conference.