No. 25 McDonogh strong favorite at Ray Oliver

Opening the 2012-13 wrestling season in its home gym, No. 25 McDonogh, Md., is a strong favorite to repeat as champion in the 40th annual Ray Oliver Wrestling Tournament, which takes place Friday and Saturday.

Though there is not likely to be much of a team battle among the 20 schools competing, the individual competition will be excellent. The tournament features seven nationally ranked wrestlers, as well as eight defending tournament champions and ten wrestlers in all that have won the event in the past.

Myles Martin (Photo/Dave Jedlicka)
With a pair of nationally ranked wrestlers, a two-time state champion, and a two-time National Prep placer, the 160-pound weight class looks to be the tournament's toughest. Leading the way is Junior National freestyle champion Josh Llopez (St. Mary's Ryken, Md.), the two-time Super 32 Challenge finalist who is ranked No. 5 in the nation. Ranked tenth nationally at 152, but projected to compete up in this weight class, is Cadet National freestyle runner-up Myles Martin (McDonogh, Md.). Two-time state champion Beau Donahue (Westfield, Va.) is a senior who has placed fourth at the NHSCA grade-level nationals each of the last two years. Bryce Pappas (St. Mary's, Md.) placed seventh and fourth at the National Prep Championships and was one match away from placing at the Super 32 in late October.

The 145 and 195 weight classes also feature a quartet of notable wrestlers. The field at 145 is led by defending tournament champion Toby Hague (McDonogh, Md.), a National Prep runner-up this past season at 160 and seventh at the Super 32 this October. Also in this field are two-time state placers Max Wilt (Caesar Rodney, Del.) and Daniel Downes (St. Mark's, Del.), who was also a state champion, as well as National Prep placer Cole Graves (Archbishop Spalding, Md.). Leading the way at 195 is returning National Prep placer Spencer Neff (Good Counsel, Md.), who placed third at the Super 32 in October. Also in this weight are 2011 National Prep placer Shane Cockerlie (Gilman, Md.), state placer Anthony Mancini (Salesanium, Del.), and state runner-up Tyler Cox (Smyrna, Del.).

Two past event champions anchor the field at 152 pounds in Jack Clark (McDonogh, Md.) and Logan Breitenbach (Archbishop Spalding, Md.). Seeking a third consecutive title in this tournament, National Prep champion Clark is ranked eighth nationally at 145, but is projected to be here for this event. Breitenbach won a title in the 2010 Ray Oliver Tournament, was sixth at National Preps this past year, and placed fourth in the Preseason Nationals earlier this month.

Also seeking to become three-time champions in this event is a trio of juniors, No. 7 Brent Fleetwood (Smryna, Del.) at 113 pounds, Micah Hight (Caesar Rodney, Del.) at 126, and No. 1 Kyle Snyder (Good Counsel, Md.) at 220. Fleetwood is most likely to see a nominal challenge from 2011 state runner-up Zach Howell (Caesar Rodney, Del.); Hight's primary challenge would come in the form of a state finals rematch against Tyler Carney (Smyrna, Del.); while Snyder has nominal challengers in state runner-up D.J. Johnson (Caesar Rodney, Del.) and National Prep placer Wyatt Cook (McDonogh, Md.).

Three other wrestlers seeking a second Ray Oliver Wrestling Tournament title are Daniel Sanchez (Georgetown Prep, Md.) at 132 pounds, No. 8 Alfred Bannister (Bishop McNamara, Md.) at 138, and Tyler Patrick (McDonogh, Md.) at 170. Sanchez, a Junior National Greco-Roman All-American and two-time National Prep placer, won his tournament title as a freshman in 2009. His primary challenge in this tournament is likely to come in the form of 113-pound National Prep champion Corey Huntley (Archbishop Curley, Md.). Bannister's primary challenge in this event is likely to come from two-time National Prep placer Xavi Ramos (McDonogh, Md.), while Patrick will have to battle state champion Zach Boyles (Smryna, Del.) in order to repeat as tournament champion.

The last of the nationally ranked wrestlers in this field is No. 16 Troy Murtha (Georgetown Prep, Md.) at 182 pounds, who placed fifth at the Super 32 and third at the National Prep Championships.

An additional weight class showdown is likely to come in the opening weight class, as the top three 106-pound wrestlers in Maryland are slated to compete: Jake Vosburgh (St. Mary's Ryken), Michael Doetsch (Severn), and Adam Whitesell (Good Counsel).


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