Back-to-back victories by Robinson's Rob Patten and Chris Ellison brought the Rams the Virginia AAA Northern Region championship, 135-134, over Marshall last night at Mount Vernon.
The Rams trailed, 134-127, after Roger Baxter of Marshall pinned Robinson's Stacy Gruber at 5:18 of the 126-pound match. Robinson's remaining hopes rested on victories from Patten at 155 and Ellison at 167.
Patten defeated Brook Leonard of W.T. Woodson, 5-2, in a rematch of the Northern District finals. Ellison followed by edging Herndon's Jay Troxell, 8-7.
"Rob and I came together and we knew we had to pull together," said Ellison. "We had to reach down deep and pull it all out."
Troxell had Ellison in a potential scoring position, but could not secure the move before time ran out on Troxell -- and Marshall. The one-point Marshall loss was magnified by the fact that the Statesmen had two placement points taken away earlier in the day when 185-pound Joe Swarm failed to show for his consolation match. He had car trouble. But for the Rams it was time to celebrate Coach John Epperly's 10th regional title at Robinson and 11th of his career.
"We had talked about some situations earlier," he said. "But I didn't say anything to them. They knew what they had to do. This is a young team and it is very, very pleasing."
Baxter had given Marshall the lead in a match that could have clinched the title early for Robinson.
After trailing in the first minute, Baxter took a 3-2 lead at the end of the first period. Leading, 7-3, after the second two minutes, Baxter got Gruber in peril and capitalized.
"I was just looking for a win," said Baxter. "But when I got him on his back in the final period, all I could think of was the coach saying we needed a pin for the region championship."
In the first must-win match for Robinson, Patten, who had three pins up to that point of the tournament, responded with a methodical 5-2 win over Leonard.
Then it was all up to Ellison.
"I really wanted to do it for the coach. That was the main thing," said Ellison. "I wanted to prove that Coach Epperly could do it with a young team. I knew I couldn't get defensive. I had to keep moving."
Craig Phipps of Jefferson was named the meet's outstanding wrestler. Phipps won the 119-pound class by pin over Lake Braddock's Brent Gehring at 2:53.
Seneca Valley scored 127 team points and won four weight classes to take the 19-team Montgomery County tournament at Kennedy. Einstein was second with 94 points, Paint Branch third with 93.
All of Seneca Valley's finalist contenders won. The Screaming Eagles' first championship victory came at 112 pounds, John McCaffery pinning Sherwood's Daren Mills in 1:58. Teammate Carl Martin followed up in the 119s, recording a 3:47 second fall over Wootton's Eric Britton. Next, Steve Kruse frustrated Damascus' Matt Franz in an 11-4 victory at 126 pounds. Seneca's final champion was 132-pounder Joe Hawkins, who edged out Damascus' Mike Bromley, 7-6.
Besides the pins by McCaffery and Martin, four falls highlighted the tournament. At 105 pounds, Churchill's David Williams dominated Gaithersburg's Jim Styslinger, ending the match in 52 seconds with a cradle. In the 138-pound class, Shane Bailey of Paint Branch pinned Einstein's Pete Simrkas in 1:41. Whitman's top-seeded Basher El-Fiky won a technical fall at 158 over David Hessie of Richard Montgomery, and Paint Branch heavyweight Eric Washington overpowered Churchill's Zeke Machado en route to a 1:42 pin.
Wheaton's John Shelly, who won the 167-pound title with a 10-2 decision over Einstein's Charles Barber, was awarded the tournament's Monisera Award. The award is given to the wrestler with senior class status who has accumulated the most varsity points throughout his career at the county tournament. This was Shelly's third county title.
Other champions: Wheaton's 98-pound Tom Lam, on a 3-1 decision over Rockville's Joe Vukovich; Rockville's Jeff Stroud, 145, on an 18-5 decision over Wootton's Tom Levin; and Shawn Dykes, 185, of Kennedy, 16-12 over Bethesda-Chevy Chase's Tony Zaslav. -- David Izenson
Bowie captured the championship at Largo, compiling 162 1/2 points to 134 for runner-up Eleanor Roosevelt. Laurel placed third with 103 and had two champions.
The only pin in the title round came at 185 pounds, as Darrin Huckaby from Oxon Hill pinned Mike Free of DuVal 1:47 into the match. Eric Freeman, 132, of High Point won easily over Tom Butler of Bowie, 14-9. -- Andre Johnson
Bullis won the invitational tournament for the seventh straight year and kept its undefeated record intact, 20-0. Bullis' six wrestlers going for individual titles had a combined 170-12-1 record.
In the early weight classes, Bullis recorded pins from Chris Kalil, three-time IAC champion and winner of 100 career matches, senior Bob Bunting (30-3) and two-time champion, junior Greg Welch.
Bullis' 138-pound senior Andrew Kelley (22-0) roused the full house with an emotional 8-6 victory over Collegiate's previously unbeaten Worti Ferrel.
With just eight seconds remaining on the first-period clock, Ferrel had Kelly on his back. But in the midst of a three count, Kelly kicked himself free and finished the period at 2-2.
"I started off pretty slow, but I knew that I would," said Kelley. "I have an allergy to smoke that really affects me and there was smoke out around the lobby. It took me a while to get my head clear again; exercise does it. But I didn't get too far behind, and in the second period I felt good again."
Seconds into the next period the match took on a new look. Kelley attacked Ferrel, knocking him to the mat and threatening a pin. Ferrel was able to reverse out of the takedown, and in the final moments of the match the two, groggy with exhaustion, could only muster a tired slap at each other.
Bullis ended the evening having won five of six matches, when senior and two-time defending champion Andre Kelley (35-0-1) defeated Tim Kelly of DeMatha, 9-0, at 145 pounds to increase his school-record number of wins to 139.
In an earlier match Scott Hill, 112, of O'Connell beat Lake Taylor of St. Christopher, 10-2, to remain undefeated at 27-0.
Bullis finished with 258.5 points followed by DeMatha with 167, Charlotte, N.C., 148, Woodberry Forest, 146.5, and Paul VI with 131 in a 29-team field. -- Curtis Eichelberger