The Hammond Golden Bears last night sent nine wrestlers into today's Class 2A-1A South regional tournament semifinals at Oakland Mills, but coach Pedro Barbosa said he knows the challenges that lie ahead.
"We need a little luck and for all our kids to wrestle at their best," he said. "If that happens, we have a chance to win the team title. But the semifinal round is big, and River Hill is in good position. But whether we win the team title or not, every kid here aspires to the state tournament, and my goal is to get them there."
The Hawks placed 12 of 13 wrestlers in the semifinal round to take a 78-60 lead over Hammond going into today's matches that begin at 10 a.m. The finals are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. River Hill coach Brandon Lauer agreed with Barbosa's goal, pointing out each of his wrestlers is one win away from qualifying for states, whether it is in the semifinals or a consolation match.
He noted Jake Pace, Sean Kirby, Evan Shebel, Nathan White and Scott Mantua qualified last year, with Mantua (112 pounds) claiming a state title and White (140) finishing as runner-up. "So far we're on pace to do what we set out to do - qualify as many as possible."
Last night, River Hill's fifth-seeded Kirby upset the No. 4 seed in the 135-pound class to set up a meeting with Hammond's Josh Halper, the No. 1 seed. And Glenelg's Brendan Conway, the No. 1 seed at 125, earned a 17-0 technical fall in his quarterfinal match to advance to a match with No. 4 Dylan Gillett of Hammond.
Class 2A-1A North: : Owings Mills has long been considered one of the premier wrestling programs in the state, and the Eagles and upstart Lansdowne dominated the opening round.
The Eagles will have eight wrestlers in today's semifinals hosted by Lansdowne, the Viking will have seven. Owings Mills beat Lansdowne twice this season, but Vikings coach Randy Biden was happy with his program last night.
"I think our program turned the corner, and we have gone a little bit further this year," Biden said. "We're wrestling well . Obviously, Owings Mills is still the favorite. We'll see where we finish. But second to them would be a good day for us."
There were no major upsets in last night's matches. Avi Friedman of Owings Mills, who won a state title at 103 pounds last season, and Patrick Downey of Loch Raven are the only remaining undefeated wrestlers in the region. Friedman (27-0) had a bye last night at 112. Downey (29-0) pinned his opponent at 160 in 58 seconds.
Pikesville has six wrestlers in the semifinals. Overlea, Eastern Tech and Loch Raven will also battle for top positions.
Two of the better matches today will come at 119, where Brandon Millman (17-5) of Owings Mills takes on Earl Eppard (22-2), a defending regional champion from Lansdowne. Another intriguing match will be Andre Taylor (23-8) of Owings Mills against Daniel Johnson of Carver at 160.
Class 4A-3A East: : Old Mill placed seven wrestlers in the semifinals and staked a claim to first place after the quarterfinal round at South River.
The Patriots totaled 47.50 points to take the lead, followed by Stephen Decatur (32), Reservoir (28.50), Centennial (24) and Bel Air (22) in the top five of 22 schools.
Old Mill wrestlers advancing included Colin Dupreay (25-4) at 103, Willie Pumphrey (28-6) at 125; Ron Vaughters (32-3) at 135; Thomas Sillaman at 160; Michael Sillaman at 171; Sean Mahoney at 215; and Aaron Hawkins at 285. Five of the seven advanced on pins.
Class 1A-2A East:: With nine wrestlers making it to the semifinals, Rising Sun took the team lead at Harford Tech, outdistancing North Caroline, 53.5-46.5.
Harford Tech (36), with six semifinalists, took fourth behind Easton (38).
Meanwhile, Patterson Mill, a new school in Harford County competing in its first varsity year, was 10th among the 23 competing teams with 12 points. Zac Cullison gave the Huskies a semifinalist in the 103-pound class.