Anne Arundel County

With perennial powers Old Mill, Arundel and Chesapeake firmly holding their ground and continued emergence from South River, Severna Park and potentially others, the county season promises to be competitive and deep.

Defending champ Old Mill - a 194-193.5 winner over Arundel in last year's county tournament - is again top-to-bottom strong and will lean on Chris Volker (152) and Ed Roderick (160).

Arundel returns Justin Bowser and plenty more, while Chesapeake will be particularly strong at the lighter weights with Shane Fraser (130/135) and Josh O'Keeffe (119). South River, led by Andrew Mulry, will build on its 16-5 dual-meet season last winter, and for Severna Park, Lew Spadaro is back at 160.

Baltimore City

Will Poly make it three straight Baltimore City titles?

Can emerging Douglass, a surprise runner-up last season, take that next step?

And what about Patterson, which won seven consecutive titles before Poly worked its way to the top?

Little is certain in the city race aside from the fact that things are wide open.

Poly is led by junior Abe Davis (160), senior Terrence Green (189) and Brandon Jones, the city champ at 103, who will return in two weeks after breaking a finger.

At Patterson, first-year coach Chris Stalker is looking for the Clippers to regain their top status, and he has a fine starting point in senior DeShawn Barrett, 215 pounds.

Baltimore County

Defending champ Owings Mills is solid, but programs such as Dulaney, Eastern Tech and Parkville could emerge as threats.

Dulaney returns all but one starter from an 18-4 squad, including state champ James Knox, county champ Scott Carroll (103) and county place-winners Matt Jacobs (130) and Tim Turner (189).

Parkville returns county runner-up Kyle England (135) and third-place finisher Razzaq Muhammad (171) among nine starters. Also a threat is Eastern Tech with a solid blend of lower, middle and upper weights comprising its lineup.

First-year Hereford coach Ron Causey brings junior league coaching experience to a team that includes state runner-up D.J. Scarponi.

Carroll County

Defending county champ North Carroll should vie yet again with South Carroll and Francis Scott Key - all of them returning state place-winners, qualifiers and starters.

North Carroll should contend with River Hill of Howard County, to which the Panthers were 4A-3A North region dual and tournament runners-up. Expect South Carroll and Francis Scott Key to push Baltimore County's Owings Mills and Harford County's Harford Tech, which were 1-2 at last year's 2A-1A state tournament.

The Crocken brothers, Tim and Chuck, will lead Winters Mill, and lower weights Alex Grassi, Jordan Black and Evan Schrodel will lead Century. Westminster's Greg Oravetz has replaced retired, longtime coach Henry Mohlhenrich.

Harford County

Gary Siler's Harford Tech Cobras took a major step last season, going 15-1 over an improved schedule that included victories over Anne Arundel power Chesapeake and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference power McDonogh.

This year, the Cobras are looking to dominate the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference, which combines Harford and Cecil counties.

The Cobras return state finalists Mike Long (125) and Josh Taylor (125), who will be joined by Perry Hall transfer Matt Kahl (145), a two-time regional champ. The Cobras' biggest challenges should come from Fallston and Joppatowne, led by two-time state champ Jeremy Navarre (275) and fourth-place state finisher Erick Browne (112).

Howard County

River Hill (21-1) seeks its sixth straight county tournament title and fifth region title in six years when its takes to the mat this season. The Hawks were the state dual-meet runner-up and finished a school-best third at the state tournament. The Hawks also won the county tournament by a record 104 points. Their average dual-meet margin of victory was almost 40 points.

The Hawks return state runner-up Taylor Green.

Hammond (9-9) will challenge River Hill this season with a powerful returning lineup that includes the county's only state champ, sophomore Vince Taweel, and a state runner-up, senior Ethan Cohen. Oakland Mills returns Sean Kendig, third in the state, and Anthonio Josiah, a region champ.

Private schools

It appears the rich have gotten richer in Baltimore's toughest wrestling conference, as Mount St. Joseph benefits from the transfer of Frederick High state champ, Mark Tsikerdanos (125), and the addition of former junior league standout Danny Whitenak (103).

With 11 returning private school state place-winners, the Gaels, yet again, are the class of the league.

But McDonogh should provide stiff resistance, led by state champ Bryn Holmes (152) and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champ Joe Breen (125).

Archbishop Curley, Boys' Latin, Gilman and Calvert Hall add depth to the league, whose top wrestlers include past state champs Jon Kohler (Mount St. Joseph, 130) and Tim Jennings (Pallotti, 215).

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