Losing a contact lens during a wrestling match is not uncommon, but it is a particular problem for Severna Park senior Steve Smith. Smith has 29-160 eyesight and struggles to see at all without his contacts.
Still, Smith became the first Severna Park wrestler to win a title at the prestigious Hammond Invitational last weekend and hopes to attend the U.S. Naval Academy next fall.
He has received a congressional nomination for an appointment to Navy but is waiting for medical approval, which is not guaranteed with his eyesight.
Smith, who wrestles at 145 pounds, hopes to walk on to Navy's wrestling team next year.
At the meet Saturday, Smith defeated Mount St. Joseph's Brian Propst 1-0, finishing the match with only one contact.
"It doesn't affect you during the match because you're so close to the guy, but afterward I could barely even grab my stuff," he said. "It makes it a little more challenging, but hopefully I'll still get in" Navy.
Smith's teammate, Brian Payer, defeated Paul Marchese of Boys' Latin 10-0 to finish third in the 275-pound weight class for the second year. Senior Walker Babington (160) pinned DeMatha's Rich Ousley in the third period for a sixth-place finish. The Falcons' entered the week 5-2.
Smith, a four-year starter and team captain, entered this week with an 18-1 record. As the only state public school wrestler to win a title at Hammond, Smith helped the Falcons to a tie for 13th place at the tournament, which included some of the top teams in the region.
"All you hear about is how hard the tournament is and how it's tougher than the state tournament," Smith said. "It was something I didn't even expect at all. . . . We have had a lot of tough wrestlers who have gone to the tournament [in past years] but didn't get the same breaks I had. For most of [the matches], . . . I scored early and then hung on until time ran out. This was something I never even dreamed of. It's such a hard tournament, and the competition is incredible."
Old Mill's Super Sub Old Mill junior guard Greg Phelps just doesn't quit, not even when he gets cut. Phelps, who didn't make the junior varsity basketball team his freshman year, came back out last year, made the team and got promoted to varsity by the end of the season. Now he's the Patriots' second-leading scorer and a tremendous spark off the bench.
"He's obviously good enough to be a starter for us," Coach Greg Smith said. "He's by far the best pure shooter we have on the team. We like the lift we get when we put him in off the bench, and he likes that role also. It's nice to know two or three minutes into the game, when you put him in, it's not like you're losing anything."
Phelps, a guard who is averaging four rebounds per game, scored five points in the Patriots' 9-0 run with 1 minute 49 seconds left in the third quarter and helped Old Mill to a 39-29 lead over Glen Burnie on Friday. He finished the game with seven points, all in the second half, as the Patriots took a 60-49 win.
"I don't mind coming off the bench," Phelps said. "I feel comfortable helping the team out. It was a second-chance opportunity. Coach told me he wanted me to come back out. Everything worked out good. It feels great to come out in this atmosphere and make the crowd go crazy when you hit a three."
'Breakout Year' for Mulry When South River sophomore Andrew Mulry wins an impressive wrestling title, he hangs the tournament bracket, which is given to all winners, on his bedroom wall. Mulry's latest decorating addition came after a 3-1 decision over previously undefeated Erik Vinores of Owings Mills in the 112-pound weight class at the South River Invitational.
"It's his breakout year," South River Coach John Klessinger said. "Last year he was getting his feet wet. He won a lot of matches, but he had a lot of bigger things in mind. He's very reliable. You know he's going to go out there every match and give his best."
Mulry, whose father Tom is an assistant coach and former wrestler at the University of Delaware, improved to 16-0, including 14 pins.
First Things First for Chesapeake Chesapeake senior basketball player Ginger Williams wasn't phased by his team's 66-54 loss to Meade on Jan. 10, neither is she concerned with this year's county championship. Williams is always focused on the game at hand, and it showed in Friday's narrow 56-53 win against Arundel.
Williams scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, helping the Cougars give Arundel its first conference loss of the season. Senior Lynnea Spinnenweber also had 15 points, and senior guard Courtney Gogolinski added 14.
"Some of us were a little disappointed [after the Meade loss], but we have to come back from that," Williams said. "We just need to play how we know how to play and not let things bother us. I don't think too many of us are worried about the county championship. We're just taking it game by game and building up our confidence for when the county games are over."
Brown Steps Up for Gophers Glen Burnie sophomore Lakiva Brown is the first person in her family to play basketball. She has surrounded herself year-round with top-notch competition at the neighborhood hoop, and it's paid off. Brown, who grew up playing with all-county graduate Essence Greer, is taking strides to replace the team's leading scorer. She scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Gophers to a 49-47 win against Old Mill on Friday.
"I don't know where I get it from," said Brown, who aspires to play in the WNBA. "Nobody in my family plays basketball."
It was a much-needed boost for the Gophers, who entered this week with a 4-7 record. Senior Jackie Wineke scored 11 points to help the team to its first win in the last four games.
"We have been struggling," Wineke said. "We won this as a team, so it was a big win for us. We stuck it out."