1997 Washington Post All-Met Wrestlers Selection (Maryland Wrestlers Only)

Jason Gabrielson
Northern, Senior, Three-time All-Met was 81-0 over past two seasons, including 42-0 this season. Three-time Maryland state champion won 4A/3A title at 119 pounds this season. Career 181-15, but only two losses since freshman season.
Scott Beattie, Sherwood Led Sandy Spring school to first Md. 4A/3A championship. Warriors were 13-0 in dual matches.
103 Nick Alley Southern, Sophomore, Record: 30-2 Maryland 2A/1A champion. Won East Region title.
103 Chris Combs 103, Old Mill, Sophomore 35-1 Maryland 4A/3A champion. Won NOVA Classic, Annapolis and F.S. Key tournament titles
112 Willie Harris III, DeMatha, Junior. 52-5 Two-time WCAC champ. Won Herndon, McDonough, Curley, Md. Independent tournament titles.
112 Bobby Monday Sherwood, Junior 33-3. Maryland 4A/3A champion. Won tournament titles at West Region, South River and Meade.
125 Brandon York Damascus, Senior. 35-1 Repeat All-Met. Two-time Md. 4A/3A champion. Three-time West Region champ. Career 100-8.
130 Drew Robertson, DeMatha. Sophomore, 39-4 Second at St. Albans, third at National Preps. WCAC, Md. Independent and Annapolis titlist.
135 Jim O’Connor, Glenelg, Junior 32-0 Maryland 2A/1A champion. South Region and Howard County titlist.
140 Wes Cummings, DeMatha, Sophomore, 51-6 Two-time WCAC champion was second at National Preps. Two-time Md. Independent champ.
140 Darren Black, Douglass, Senior, 34-2 Maryland 4A/3A champion. Won South Region and Prince George’s County titles.
140 Scott Munsey, Wheaton, Senior, 35-1 Three-time All-Met. Three-time Md. champion. Career 136-8. Member of U.S. Junior Greco team.
145 Tyrone Eaton, Northeast, Senior 27-1 Maryland 2A/1A champion. Won South Region title.
145 John Paoletti, Bullis, Senior, 45-4, Third at National Preps. Won St. Albans, Md. Independent Schools and IAC titles. Career 99-34.
152 Billy Phillips, DeMatha, Senior, 45-4 Repeat All-Met. First at National Preps, St. Albans and WCAC tournaments. Career 156-31.
160 Jeremy Lignelli, Glenelg, Senior, 36-1 Repeat All-Met. Two-time Maryland 2A/1A champion. Career 128-9.
171 Loren Morgan III, Seneca Valley, Senior, 33-2 Maryland 4A/3A champion. Won Montgomery, Magruder Big M, Westmar tournament titles.
171 Premiell Pettway, Central (Md.) Senior, 33-1 Maryland 2A/1A, South Region and Prince George’s County champion.
Hvw. Graham Manley, Sherwood, Senior, 27-1 Repeat All-Met was also football All-Met. Two-time Maryland 4A/3A champion.
103: Dan Hemminger, Annapolis; Nick DeLonga, DeMatha; Luke Rackley, Paint Branch.
119: Kyle Beckerman, DeMatha,; Chris Gahl, Walter Johnson; Jared Zillmer, Hammond.  125: Steve Brooks, Liberty; Riad de Freitas; Eric Miller, Northern.
130: John Nguyen, Oakland Mills
135: Eric Lonabough, Northeast.
140: Josh Zillmer, Hammond.
145: Shawn Poore, Calvert
160: Dameon Powell, Sherwood; Chase Stock, Potomac School, Steve Gilligan, Lackey.
171: Wayne Hutchinson, Einstein; Josh White, St. Mary’s-Annapolis, Jimmy Stone, Northern.
189: Daniel Holton, Westlake.
HWT: Derrick Hull, Liberty; Brian Neal, Howard; James Johnson, Seneca Valley.

1997 Baltimore Sun Wrestling All-Metro

Coach of the Year

Henry Franklin, Calvert Hall: Calvert Hall was a threat to beat anyone it faced. Third-year coach Franklin, 27, and assistants Todd Crandell, Gary Baker and Dane Rianhard helped the No. 8 Cardinals (22-7) set a state record in dual-meet wins. Calvert Hall was 0-10 before Franklin took over, but was 11-8 and 14-8 the next two seasons. The Cardinals’ four finalists — all runners-up — at the private school states were an area-best. Calvert Hall was fourth at MIAAs, eighth at National Preps and fifth at the states — all school bests — and had a tournament win over Baltimore County champ Eastern Tech. The Cardinals nearly knocked off Damascus (ranked No. 10 in the state) and Curley (ranked No. 9) in losses by six and one point, respectively.

Wrestler of the Year

Steve Kessler, Owings Mills: Ranked No. 1 in the state since his freshman season, and No. 3 nationally by USA Wrestling, Kessler went 148-0, becoming the state’s second four-time state champ and the first to go unbeaten. Despite being dogged by an intestinal virus, Kessler, the first four-time All-Metro wrestling selection, won this year’s state title, 6-2, over Southern of Garrett’s Nathan Rickman in a rematch of last year’s 145-pound final. The three-time All-Metro has 73 pins and 46 technical falls for his career, and likely will attend Blair Academy Prep school in Blairstown, N.J., which is ranked No. 1 in the nation. There, he’ll try to improve his grades before moving on to the college ranks.

First team

Sal Aquia, Curley, Sr., 160 pounds (38-2): Ranked No. 1 in the state, Aquia (19 pins) won his second MIAA title and his first crowns at the states and National Preps. His most notable victory came via a 13-7 decision over Glenelg’s two-time state champ Jeremy Lignelli. Aquia had single-season school records for victories and takedowns (119), and career records for pins (19) and takedowns (204). He also has 92 career wins.

James Axel, Aberdeen, Sr. (32-2): A two-time Harford County and region champ, Axel, ranked No. 5 in the state, finished first at the state tournament. Axel, who wrestled up at 125 for much of the season, lost just once at 119 — in the state finals to Mardela’s Rodney Stine. Axel was Harford County’s co-Wrestler of the Year.

Jamie Blankenship, Eastern Tech, Sr., 189 pounds (36-2): Blankenship won the county and region titles after being second in both tournaments as a heavyweight last season. Unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in Maryland entering the state tournament, Blankenship took fourth in the meet’s most competitive and talented weight class.

Mike Boettcher, Curley, Jr., 135 pounds (37-6): Boettcher, ranked No. 2 in the state, is the Friars’ first two-time state champ and was runner-up at this year’s MIAAs after being first last year. Boettcher, who was fifth at the National Preps Tournament, is 2-1 against McDonogh’s No. 3 Joe Smith. Boettcher (94 career wins) holds the school records for career reversals (66) and has 149 career takedowns and 45 career pins.

Chris Combs, Old Mill, Soph., 112 (35-1): Combs (15 pins), ranked No. 2 in the state, became the first sophomore to win a state title in Old Mill history. He also won his second straight county title and, after being second at the regions last year, his first region crown. Combs dropped to 103 and outscored his region opponents by a combined 22-3, and at the states scored a pin, decision, major decision and default to win. Had a notable victory over Westminster’s three-time county and region champ Bobby Biden (third at states). Combs’ only loss was a 6-1 decision at 112-pounds to DeMatha’s state champ Kyle Beckerman, who scored the decisive points in the closing seconds.

Tyrone Eaton, Northeast, Sr., 145 (27-1): Only a third-year wrestler, Eaton (12 pins) won the county and regional crowns after finishing second and fourth the previous seasons. In his state title bout, Eaton topped out with a 10-4 victory over Middletown’s No. 5 Zane Harshman, who had split wins against Frederick’s 3A-4A state champ Shane Hildebrande. Eaton, an explosive takedown artist with a powerful upper torso, suffered his only loss at 160 pounds, a 3-2 decision to Arundel’s two-time state runner-up Isaac Haertel. Eaton is also a B student with a 1,010 SAT score.

Will Filbert, McDonogh, Jr., 103 pounds (38-0): Ranked No. 1 in the state the entire season, Filbert won his second straight MIAA and private schools state titles and notched his 18th pin of the season to win the title at the National Preps tournament. Filbert is a repeat All-Metro selection as well.

Greg Forbes, Milford Mill, Sr., heavyweight (21-0): weight (21-0): Forbes, ranked No. 3 in the state, won his third county crown and his second region and state crowns. Forbes, a muscular 204 pounds, pinned 18 opponents this season, including his first at the state tournament in just 12 seconds. Big wins came over Howard’s No. 2 Brian Neal, Owings Mills’ No. 4 Anthony Smith, Lackey’s No. 5 Josue Leon and Wheaton’s No. 6 Steve Ray.

Tommy Free, Sparrows Point, Sr., 125 pounds (31-1): Free, ranked No. 2 in the state, pinned 23 opponents en route to winning his fourth county title — he won the Harford County version as an Edgewood freshman — his fourth region title and his second state title. Free, who also has placed second and fifth at the states, was not scored upon at this year’s state meet. His career record is 122-4 with 84 pins and he carries a 3.2 GPA with a 1,410 SAT score. He is considering attending University of Pennsylvania and other Ivy League schools.

Chuck Jones, Kenwood, Sr., 130 pounds (32-2): wood, Sr., 130 pounds (32-2): Jones, ranked No. 2 in the state, was county and region champ and state runner-up for the second straight season. Jones, who carries a 3.2 GPA and scored 1,070 on his SAT, pinned 23 opponents — four of last year’s total — and had a win over Free. Like Free, Jones is also looking to attend an Ivy League school.

Jason Leneau, Boys’ Latin, Jr., 160 pounds (30-5): Leneau, No. 2 in the state, won his second straight MIAA title over Aquia, but was runner-up at the states to Aquia. Leneau was 1-2 against Aquia. Leneau is the Lakers’ first three-time place-winner at the National Preps, being fifth in this and his freshman season, and second last year.

Jeremy Lignelli, Glenelg, Sr., 160 pounds (36-1): Glenelg’s first state champ a year ago, Lignelli, Howard County’s co-Wrestler of the Year, became the sixth county wrestler to win at least two state titles and the fifth to win four county titles. No. 3 Lignelli (a Howard County record 127-9 career, 102-3 over three seasons) also won three regional titles, four Chopticon tournament titles and two F.S. Key tournament titles.

Jimmy O’Connor, Glenelg, Jr., 135 (32-0): Accomplishing that rarest of feats — winning a state championship with an unbeaten record — was a goal that O’Connor, ranked No. 1 in the state, set after he watched teammate Lignelli do it last season. O’Connor, Howard County co-Wrestler of the Year, won six tournament championships this season — Chopticon, Francis Scott Key, Hammond, Howard County, Class 1A-2A South Region and Class 1A-2A state. His biggest victory was over Boettcher.

Danny Mattson, Mount St. Joseph, Sr., 145 pounds (35-2): Mattson, ranked No. 1 in the state, won his second straight MIAA title and his first state title after being a runner-up twice. Mattson pinned 24 opponents and beat Bullis’ John Paoletti, a 152-pound state champ, en route to a runner-up finish at the National Preps Tournament.

Erik Schafer, Mount St. Joseph, Sr., 140 pounds (37-6): Schafer, ranked No. 3 in the state, pinned 16 opponents, was third at states, and won the MIAA title over Boys’ Latin’s Gary Colbert. Schafer, who was second at the states twice before this season, pinned Colbert en route to a third-place finish at the National Preps Tournament.

Josh White, St. Mary’s, Sr., 171 (30-3): White, ranked No. 1 in the state, pinned 22 opponents and won the Maryland private schools state and MIAA tournament titles after being runner-up in the latter the previous season. White (121-20), Anne Arundel County’s Wrestler of the Year, was unbeaten in the state, including a pin over 3A-4A state runner-up Jimmy Stone (Northern-Calvert).

Wgt., Name, School, Year

103, Will Filbert, McDonogh, Junior

112, Chris Combs, Old Mill, Sophomore

119, James Axel, Aberdeen, Junior

125, Tommy Free, Sparrows Point, Senior

130, Chuck Jones, Kenwood, Senior

135, Jimmy O’Connor, Glenelg, Junior

135, Mike Boettcher, Curley, Junior

140, Erik Schafer, Mount St. Joseph, Senior

145, Danny Mattson, Mount St. Joseph, Senior

145, Tyrone Eaton, Northeast, Senior

152, Steve Kessler, Owings Mills, Senior

160, Sal Aquia, Curley, Senior

160, Jeremy Lignelli, Glenelg, Senior

160, Jason Leneau, Boys Latin, Junior

171, Josh White, St. Mary’s, Senior

189, Jamie Blankenship, Eastern Tech, Senior

Hwt., Greg Forbes, Milford Mill, Senior

Second team

103, Nick Alley, Southern-AA, Sophomore

112, Bobby Biden, Westminster, Junior

119, Demetrios Gourgoulianis, Eastern Tech, Junior

125, Kyle Chiaverini, Mount St. Joseph, Junior

130, Rob Johns, Calvert Hall, Junior

130, Mike Young, Sparrows Point, Senior

135, Joe Smith, McDonogh, Senior

135, Dave Spicer, Westminster, Junior

135, Mike Reilly, C. Milton Wright, Senior

140, Ari Dolid, Owings Mills, Senior

140, Tim Groszkowski, Franklin, Senior

152, Mike Schall, Mount St. Joseph, Junior

160, Carl Cicchetti, Chesapeake-AA, Senior

171, Damian Davis, Gilman, Sophomore

189, Ray Henry, Howard, Senior

Hwt., Brian Neal, Howard, Senior

Hwt., Anthony Smith, Owings Mills, Senior

Picking the teams

The Baltimore Sun 1997 All-Metro Wrestling Teams were selected by Lem Satterfield after consultation with staff writers and area coaches.

Final poll

1. Mount St. Joseph (13-0)

2. Arundel (18-0)

3. Hammond (15-2)

4. Westminster (16-2)

5. Curley (10-1)

6. Owings Mills (16-2)

7. Old Mill (12-3)

8. Calvert Hall (22-7)

9. McDonogh (13-3)

10. Eastern Tech (15-2)

11. Francis Scott Key (12-4)

12. Boys’ Latin (7-3)

13. Aberdeen (15-2)

14. Northeast (10-3)

15. Dulaney (10-5)

Other teams considered: Patterson (14-1).