River Hill took most of the suspense out of yesterday's Big M wrestling tournament at Magruder High. The Hawks put seven wrestlers in the finals, finished with four individual championships and clinched the team victory long before the final round began in Rockville.

Linganore had three wrestlers in the championship round, but no other school in the 21-team tournament had more than two wrestlers there as River Hill finished with 247.5 points. Broad Run took second (176), Linganore was third (126) and eighth-ranked Magruder, the defending champion, took fifth with 115 points.

Brandon Lauer (125 pounds), River Hill's two-time defending state champion, led the Hawks. Lauer has yet to lose in 77 high school matches and won yesterday with four first-period pins--the second consecutive year he's accomplished that feat.

Lauer pinned his first three opponents in 3 minutes 45 seconds. He then took care of Linganore's John Gurule in 1:02 in the finals. However, Lauer was happier with his team's victory. "We wanted to send a message to everyone that we're legit," Lauer said. "I really wanted the team to win."

In addition to Lauer, Michael Dauberman (130), Scott Buescher (145) and Jason Fawcett (171) won championship matches for the Hawks. . . .

With five wrestlers in the championship round and three in the consolation final, Hayfield dominated the Northern Region Classic at Fairfax High. Led by senior Jose Martinez, who won his second title in three seasons, No. 6 Hayfield won the 32-team tournament with 247 points. Tallwood of Virginia Beach was second with 189 points, followed by Robinson (159.5), Old Mill (153.5) and Lake Braddock (148).

"This is one of the best teams we've ever had," said Hayfield Coach Roy Hill, whose team went 26-2 in dual meets and won the Northern Region title last season. "We're more seasoned than we were last year and we have our sights set pretty high."

Lake Braddock senior Steve Keleher was named the tournament's most valuable wrestler. The two-time All-Met won the 135-pound title by pinning his opponent in the first period, and won the award for most pins in the least amount of time.

Robella Lands in First

There was a changing of the guard in the individual competition at the 17th annual South Lakes Invitational gymnastics meet in Reston, but the outcome of the team competition remained the same.

West Potomac freshman Christine Robella scored a 9.6 on her floor exercise to give her a total score of 38.15 points, good enough to edge Lake Braddock senior Nicole Bascope, who totaled a 37.9. Edison senior Michelle Pearson, Virginia's defending state champion, finished a close third with 37.85 points.

"I didn't [expect to win]," Robella said. "It's exciting. I'm just out here to have fun. It's more for the team."

In the team standings, five-time defending state champion Lake Braddock won its sixth straight South Lakes Invitational with a score of 110.475. Potomac Falls was second with 109.45 points and Edison placed third with 108.8 points.

Minutes before Robella's floor exercise, Bascope put the pressure on with a 9.875 on her vault--the day's highest score. Needing at least a 9.35 to win, Robella kept her composure and executed a nearly flawless routine.

Sarah Brown of Stafford won the floor exercise with a 9.7 and Pearson won the beam event with a 9.275. Bascope won the vault with a 9.875 and the uneven bars with a 9.55.

Special correspondents Greg Brice and Nathan Max contributed to this report.