Eleanor Roosevelt wrestling coach Mike McRae began this season with a realistic understanding that, after graduating all but four members from last season's 13-1 Prince George's County championship team, rebuilding would likely best define the Raiders' goals.

Yet a mix of talented youngsters, only recently introduced to the grind of wrestling, entered the regular season finale against C.H. Flowers yesterday on the verge of making school history. With a victory, Eleanor Roosevelt (9-4, 6-1) would repeat as county regular season dual champion for the first time in school history, sharing the title with Oxon Hill. The match against Flowers ended too late to be included in this edition.

"We considered this season a rebuilding phase," said McRae, whose team's only loss came against Oxon Hill. "So to repeat as champions would really be an accomplishment for the kids."

A forfeiture because of an illegal practice on Jan. 16 nearly ended the Raiders' title hopes. With afternoon activities canceled in Prince George's County because of an approaching snowstorm, Eleanor Roosevelt teams were mistakenly given permission to practice by a school administrator, McRae said. As a result, the Raiders were forced to forfeit their next league match. McRae feared that would be their Jan. 29 victory over Class 4A opponent Largo. Instead, Earl Hawkins, the county's supervisor of athletics, announced Monday that Eleanor Roosevelt will have to forfeit their Jan. 29 victory over Class 3A Gwynn Park, leaving the Raiders as co-champions.

The future is bright for Eleanor Roosevelt next season as well. Senior 130-pouner Chris McRae, off to a team-best 21-3 record, will be gone, but returning is a talented class of sophomores and juniors, all of whom boast winning records during a learning season. Included among the returnees are sophomore Tommy Paul (103), sophomore Phil Tacconelli (119 pounds), junior Kyle Bruin (125) and junior Brandon Laureys (171).

-- Josh Leventhal

Like-Mathews Propels Bulldogs

In Prince George's County swimming competition, only Bowie has been able to challenge Eleanor Roosevelt.

The Bulldogs are the only team other than the Raiders to win a Prince George's 4A title, and last year Bowie swept the teams' dual meet before Roosevelt won the boys' and girls' championships at the county meet. But it did not take a history lesson to teach Eleanor Roosevelt freshman Maresa Like-Mathews the importance of Saturday's meet at Prince George's Community College.

"Everyone always talks about Bowie," Like-Mathews said. "During football season, that's the one game you have to go to, and I figured it was the same with swimming."

Like-Mathews made an immediate impact on the rivalry Saturday with victories in both the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes 32.84 seconds) and 100 backstroke (1:06.11). She also swam a leg in the Raiders' victorious 200 medley relay as Eleanor Roosevelt's girls defeated Bowie, 102-67.

Another freshman, Jill Lau, swam a leg of the 200 medley relay and won the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:18.18 seconds.

"They have so many wonderful freshmen this year," Bowie Coach Patti Bayly said.

Bayly said a rumor had circulated before the meet that a large number of Eleanor Roosevelt swimmers would be absent from the event because of a school-sponsored ski trip. When the teams arrived, however, the Raiders' boys and girls were at just about full strength. The Eleanor Roosevelt boys completed a sweep with a 95-75 victory.

Like-Mathews was one of three Raiders girls to win two events. Senior Beth Gingold took the 50 and 100 freestyle, and sophomore Hannah Varner won the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.

"It's always great competition between our schools," Varner said. "Every year it's like, 'When's the Bowie meet?' "

-- Jake Schaller

DeMatha Ice Hockey Short-Handed

Against older and more experienced teams in the Gilmour Academy Prep Challenge, a Midget AA tournament in Cleveland, DeMatha hung close for two periods in each of its four games against other private schools from Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The Stags trailed by more than two goals only once entering the third period but ended up losing all four games by a total of 20 goals.

DeMatha was without two of its top players, however, and routinely had a team composed of freshmen and sophomores, to compete against teams that were dominated by upperclassmen and some postgraduate students. Senior forward Bobby Plant did not accompany the Stags because he was playing for his travel team, the Washington Little Caps, and junior goaltender James LaCour did not make the trip either, as he was recovering from a concussion sustained against Landon on Jan. 27. In his place, sophomore Richard Sillery turned in a solid performance and was the only DeMatha player named to the all-tournament team.

"Pudge was just outstanding," DeMatha Coach Matt Revkin said. "There was a huge buzz about him the whole weekend."

After a five-game losing streak, which includes a 4-3 loss to Landon in a Maryland Scholastic Hockey League game last Monday, DeMatha (15-16-1, 6-1-1 MSHL) has fallen below .500 for the first time since the first game of the season. But the Stags' league record should guarantee them one of the eight berths in the postseason MSHL tournament and likely will secure a top seed.

"It may be good that Landon beat us, because it challenges the boys," Revkin said. "Everyone wants to win, but at some point, you can see another team's determination take over."

-- Colin Fitzgibbons

Courtney Dantone swims a leg of Eleanor Roosevelt's winning 200-meter medley in Saturday's victory over Bowie, 102-67. Raiders, Bulldogs are the only teams to win Prince George's 4A titles.