Defending champion Quince Orchard sewed up its second straight title at the 10th annual Big "M" wrestling tournament before the first finalists squared off before about 250 fans at Magruder High School.

The Cougars entered the finals 12 points in front of second-place Whitman, which had one finalist and no mathematical chance of preventing Quince Orchard's victory.

Quince Orchard placed five wrestlers in the finals, more than any other school. Two emerged as champions as the Cougars, with 175 1/2 points, finished 20 points ahead of Whitman.

Eric Alban led the way by scoring two takedowns, a reversal and an escape in an 8-6 victory over 160-pound Donnie Ray of Wheaton.

In the heavyweight matchup, Dave Vernier trailed, 1-0, to Damascus's Josh Held before he scored a two-point takedown in the second period. Vernier scored another takedown in the third and yielded two points before hanging on for a 4-3 victory.

The Cougars' Silvio Conrado, Jacob Ritchie and Glen Meyers lost in the finals.

Paint Branch's Craig Middledorf, the tournament MVP, dominated Conrado in a 7-1, 119-pound victory; Damien Devriendt won a 10-3 decision over Richie in the 171-pound class and 189-pound champion Shawn North defeated Meyers, 7-1.

An ensured victory gave Cougers Coach Dan Bowes confidence going into the finals.

"I wasn't too concerned going into the finals," Bowes said. "I lost two of my wrestlers to injuries and I was more worried about them."

Brad Farber injured his shoulder earlier in the day in a 140-pound match and 130-pound Joe Tatelunes twisted a knee in Friday's opener.

Alan Dinnerman and Mike Galipo scored quick pins in the 152- and 140-pound weight classes, respectively. Wootton's Dinnerman pinned Whitman's Brian Kemp in 46 seconds. And Wheaton's Gaipo matted Magruder's Chris Hyer in 45 seconds.

Wootton's Jason Roubin won a 6-4 decision over Rockville's 112-pound Williamson. Matt Woytowitz of Paint Branch defeated Mike Barwick of Wheaton, 6-5, in the 130-pound event.

At 145, Poolesville's Chris Pierce and Rob Lord struggled to a 4-4 tie. This enacted a new rule, the sudden victory, where the first point scored wins the match.

However, it ended on a disappointing note that drew a string of boos from the crowd. Pierce had been warned earlier of stalling and that warning carried over into the sudden victory. Lord went for a takedown and Pierce backed up two steps and walked towards center, drawing a penalty that gave Lord the victory.

Since Friday, 273 wrestlers passed through the doors of Magruder's gym. The 21 Montgomery County schools invited outsiders Paul VI and Model to the event.

All three Paul VI finalists registered victories, two by pins and one decision.

Mike Kennedy (135) scored two reversals and took down Sherwood's Jeff Dunkle at the buzzer. Mike McDonnell (103) disposed of Max Fartoph of Magruder in 4:26. Kit Linton (125) rounded out the Panthers' winners by downing Sherwood's Eric Shirley, 4-3.

Paul VI tied Damascus for fourth place.