There will be several high school wrestling tournaments in the Washington area this weekend, but without doubt, the 14th-annual St. Stephen's Holiday Classic will showcase more of the best wrestlers and best teams than any of the rest.
The area's longest-running holiday tournament has seven area teams and one Baltimore school, all of which have won or finished in the top three in one or more tournaments this season. In dual meets this season, the eight teams have a combined 90-26 record.
Other tournaments this weekend include the first Bethesda-Chevy Chase/Churchill Holiday Classic at B-CC, the Cavalier Christmas Invitational at W.T. Woodson, Broadneck's Holiday Tournament, the Arundel Tournament, the Marshall Tournament, George Mason's Christmas Tournament and the McNamara Tournament.
Three additions to the St. Stephen's tournament, which concludes with finals starting 7 p.m. Saturday, are two-time defending Maryland state Class 4A champion Old Mill, defending Virginia Northern Region champion Robinson and James Madison, the top team from Virginia's Great Falls District.
Old Mill comes off a 220 1/2-214 1/2 victory over perennial powerhouse Mount St. Joseph's (Baltimore) at the Cougar Invitational at Chesapeake last week and could be stronger throughout its lineup than any team at the St. Stephen's event.
The 12-0 Patriots are ranked 22nd nationally by Amateur Wrestling News. Old Mill's Brett Layman (140) is ranked second in Maryland and his brother, Brian (160), is third. Other standouts include John Bliss (145, ranked fourth in Maryland), Steve Lundstrom (103), Ernie Longazell (189) and heavyweight Don Marco.
Robinson (9-3) is strong with Kevin Littley (125) and Bryan Hazzard (135), both top-ranked in the Northern Region. James Madison (9-3) hopes to prove it is a threat to end Robinson's domination of Northern Virginia wrestling that dates from the early 1970s.
Gilman (11-3) placed second at St. Stephen's Classic and finished fourth at last season's National Prep tournament. The Greyhounds returned five top-10 national prep wrestlers, led by John Kim (125).
Other teams in the field are St. Stephen's (13-3), Gar-Field (12-4), Park View (9-7) and Yorktown (15-3).
The B-CC/Churchill one-day tournament replaces the Einstein tournament, an annual regular for many Montgomery County schools that is not being held this year. B-CC, Churchill, Magruder and seven other local schools are in the field along with one school from Delaware. The finals tonight start at 8.