For Hickey, a Home, and a Title

Gar-Field's Justin Hickey, top, has the upper hand in 135-pound match against Battlefield's Gregg Martino. Hickey won in OT.
Gar-Field's Justin Hickey, top, has the upper hand in 135-pound match against Battlefield's Gregg Martino. Hickey won in OT. (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

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By Ryan Mink
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, December 31, 2006

Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

It was last year's district tournament, and Justin Hickey was on his own. His coach at Freedom-Woodbridge, Cornell Williams, sat silent on the sidelines. He wasn't going to offer help to his own wrestler.

"It was sad," said Ray Dickerson Sr., one of several parents who stepped in to coach Hickey through his state-qualifying wins. "Freedom had a jewel, and it was Justin. They didn't treat him right."

Now Hickey wrestles for Gar-Field, his third team in four years. He said this season is his last chance, his shot at being the first in his family to attend college. And in his senior year, he has finally found a home.

Hickey won the 135-pound title at Friday's Prince William County Invitational with a 7-5 overtime win against previously undefeated and defending state runner-up Gregg Martino of Battlefield. Hickey was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler.

Seventh-ranked Gar-Field won its third straight Prince William County Invitational, beating Forest Park by 34 points and Battlefield by 64.

According to Hickey, Williams felt Hickey was cocky and was angered when Freedom wrestlers came to Hickey for advice instead of him. Hickey wanted to move down to 135 pounds last year, but Williams wouldn't allow a wrestle-off.

"I didn't want to kill myself over it," Hickey said. "I just thought about this year. I didn't want to hate wrestling because of it."

When Hickey, a National Honor Society student, transferred to Gar-Field, he was read the rules right away. But Indians Coach Rick Seipp said he hasn't had any problems and he is amazed a wrestler with so much talent is still willing to listen and learn.

Gar-Field's Porker Bowers also helped coach Hickey last year despite wrestling for a rival school.

"I felt bad for [Hickey] because he didn't have a coach," said Bowers, who beat Hickey in the district winners bracket last season before coming back to coach him in the consolation rounds.

Prince William County Invitational Coach Okay: Seipp had a seizure during the first finals match between Gar-Field's Joe Grohoski and Forest Park's Stephen Hinton when he became excited after Grohoski scored a crucial two-point reversal. Seipp lay on the ground for several minutes but was fine soon after, opting not to go to the hospital when an ambulance arrived. He has a history of seizures. "The first time it was a shocker," said Grohoski, who said he was aware of his coach's condition. "This time I was prepared. Well, not prepared for it, but I knew I wasn't killing my coach with my moves." Other Champions: Grohoski (103), Battlefield's Allen Fary (112), Battlefield's Chris Beitel (119), Yorktown's Andrew Gavin (125), Chantilly's Sam Macgregor (130), Forest Park's Brent Lowe (140), Gar-Field's Porker Bowers (145), Potomac's Matt Kersse (152), Osbourn Park's Matt Tomsko (160), Herndon's Zay Lopez (171), Gar-Field's Curtis Moore (189), Battlefield's Peter Phsias (215) and Gar-Field's Stephen Young (275).

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