Perhaps no scholastic athlete works harder and longer to receive as little recognition as wrestlers do in suburban Maryland.

Beginning today, however, they will start to perform before more than their usual crowds of a handful of family and friends when local county meets will be held throughout the state.

In Montgomery County, the meet will be held at Kennedy where the host team will be considered co-favorite with defending state champion Sherwood. Wheaton and Rockville are also hoping to do well.

The scene of the Prince George's County championships is Prince George's Community College. Bowie is the favorite, but Largo and Laurel are capable of upsetting the Bulldogs.

In Southern Maryland where wrestling is considered on a par with basketball and where good dual meets have filled plenty of gyms, Lackey, Thomas Stone and McDonough are expected to be the frontrunners for the tri-county championship.

Arundel remains the team to beat in Anne Arundel County, but Meade, Annapolis, Old Mill and Glen Burnie could surprise.

The cream of the crop is less apparent in Howard County, but Oakland Mills, Mount Hebron and and Glenelg figure to do well.

Regional tournament action begins on Feb. 21 and the state championship tournament will be held on March 1-2 at Towson State University.

Last week saw the end of several long-lived streaks when DeMatha lost to St. John's, 37-36, for its first loss in 39 games and Bullis edged Georgetown Prep, 57-55, in double-overtime for its first victory against the Little Hoyas since 1967. The Bulldogs had lost 38 consecutive Interstate Athletic Conference games to Prep . . . Despite the nasty February weather, spring beckons in the form of the first day of high school baseball practice, which is slated for March 1, just two weeks from tomorrow . . . The Metropolitan Baseball Umpires Association is offering clinics for prospective members on Wednesdays through Feb. 27 at High Point High School in Beltsville. The clinics begin at 7:30 p.m. Call (301) 736-4296 for additional information . . . The Montgomery County Recreation Department will sponsor a girls fast-pitch softball clinic for high school pitchers and catchers on Wednesdays at Northwood High Schhol. Call 468-4176 for details . . . The Prince George's Lacrosse Club is recruiting new players from second-graders through high school seniors. If interested, call 552-2421 . . . A free hockey clinic for boys and girls from 7-16 is scheduled next Wednesday at the Tucker Road Skating Rink in Fort Washington. Call 248-3124 for additional information.

Last Tuesday nearly 200 Prince George's County varsity and junior varsity athletes were declared academically ineligible to continue to participate in interscholastic activities because of a new county rule that requires a 2.0 (C) overall average.

Students had been made aware that this stiffer academic requirement would be implemented for the first time in February, but couldn't make the necessary grades or simply refused to take heed.

To their credit some teams didn't lose a single player to academic ineligibility, including 10 varsity girls basketball teams (Bladensburg, Central, Douglass, Forestville, Friendly, High Point, Largo, Laurel, Suitland and Surrattsville).

High Point was the only school whose boys basketball team didn't lose a player to this new rule. Bowie and Gwynn Park were only the varsity wrestling programs not affected.