DeMatha placed 12 of 14 wrestlers in the top six but could not defend its St. Albans Invitational title last weekend, falling to St. Mark's (Del.), 240.5-224.

Sophomore Mike Rowe (112 pounds) and juniors Rudy Rueda (135) and Gary Stewart each claimed individual titles to lead the Stags in the 28-team tournament. Rowe, ranked second in his weight class, improved to 49-2 after pinning Bullis's Interstate Athletic Conference champion Andrew Rose in 1 minute 28 seconds. Rueda (32-1) won by injury-default after Bullis's Andrew Schwartzbeck suffered a concussion in his semifinal match; Rueda has not lost since returning from a back injury a month ago.

Stewart defeated St. Stephen's/St. Agnes junior Mike Shotwell for the second time this season, 1-0, in the 189-pound final. Stewart (43-1), ranked first in the area, edged Shotwell in double overtime earlier this season at the Gilman Duals. On Saturday, Stewart earned the decisive third period escape but controlled the pace of the physical match. He took Shotwell to his back in the second period but was not awarded points and had a pair of takedowns ruled out of bounds.

"I knew I had to be aggressive," Stewart said. "I knew if I kept shooting on him, I'd either get a takedown or stalling points."

Stewart and Shotwell have at least two more opportunities to wrestle, this weekend at the Maryland Independent Schools Championships and again at the National Prep Championships the following weekend at Lehigh (Pa.).

"He's a strong guy and has real good endurance," Shotwell said of Stewart. "He's smart on the mat and knows when he needs to score. . . . Hopefully I'll see him again."

Sophomore Cam Watkins placed second, falling to Eddie Quinn of St. Mark's, 5-3, in the 119-pound final.

Aromire Paces C.H. Flowers

Afolabi Aromire transferred to C.H. Flowers last summer, but he embodies the energy and ambition of the 3-year-old school's track program.

At the Prince George's County indoor championships on Jan. 23, Aromire won the 500-meter run in 1:06.2, the fifth-fastest time in the nation this season. The sophomore also placed sixth in the 800 and fifth in the 300, a race in which the top six finishers -- Aromire, C.H. Flowers seniors Eric Best and Darryl Young, Suitland's Robert Duru, DuVal's Thomas Myers and Bladensburg's Aaron Marshall -- all were among the nation's 30 fastest.

Although he is a new addition to the traditionally sprinter-rich county, Aromire is no stranger to running with the state's best. As a freshman at Paint Branch, he placed sixth (50.11) in the 400 at the Maryland 3A outdoor championships and 11th (36.90) in the 300 at the 3A/2A indoor championships. But when his parents built a house in Springdale, leaving his old teammates was the only thing tempering his excitement about running at C.H. Flowers.

"I'm psyched, because it's a young, fresh program, and it's building," said Aromire, who also runs on the county champion 4x800 and 4x400 relays. "It may take us a few years to get to the top, but I want to be part of it. I knew the best competition in Maryland is in [Prince George's], but when it came time to leave [Paint Branch], I was heartbroken."

He became even more important to his new teammates when Best, who won the 300 county championship in 34.95, the sixth-fastest mark nationally at the time, injured his right hamstring during the county 4x200 relay. Best may be sidelined for the indoor season.

Young, whom Aromire unseated as the county champion in the 500, is also coming off a hamstring injury. Even Aromire has been nursing a sprained toe suffered during the long jump at the Montgomery County Invitational, but he said he's ready to excel in the 4A/3A East Region meet today and Maryland 4A/3A championships on Tuesday.

"I felt like I was just chillin' [in the 500] at the PG championship, so I was shocked to see my time," he said. "I figured with all the problems I'd been having, I could push for 1:05, even 1:04 in the state meet. It boosted my confidence to know I was one of the elite 500 runners in the country, and the season is not over yet.

"I don't want to be cocky, I want to be humble, but it made me wonder if I have enough in me to be number one in the country."

DeMatha's Cam Watkins tries to get Eddie Quinn of St. Mark's off his back. St. Mark's won the St. Albans Invitational, and the Stags were second.