The Hub Cup at North Hagerstown has come a long way since it began as an eight-team wrestling tournament in 1988.
This weekend, a record 20 teams are set to compete at the 25th annual edition of the event, as the Hub Cup has become Washington County’s largest and most prestigious prep wrestling invitational.
“It’s really hard to believe that the tournament has been going on this long. It’s a landmark that it’s been 25 years,” said longtime North coach Greg Slick. “And the field is as deep as it’s ever been. There have always been four or five very solid teams here, and this year there are probably seven or eight.”
Seventeen of the 20 teams are from Maryland, including Boonsboro, Saint James, South Hagerstown, Williamsport and host North Hagerstown from Washington County. Greencastle-Antrim (Pa.), Musselman (W.Va.) and Waynesboro (Pa.) will give the tourney a Tri-State feel.
The highest rated team competing from the recent Maryland State Wrestling Association’s top-20 overall rankings is Urbana, which is No. 9. Catoctin, Magruder, Mountain Ridge and South Carroll — all of whom will be at North Hagerstown this weekend — are honorable mentions, as are North Hagerstown and Williamsport.
Musselman currently is ranked seventh in West Virginia Class AAA, and Waynesboro — the Hub champion in 2009 and 2010 and the runner-up last year — surely will show its Pennsylvania toughness again.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough weekend,” said Williamsport coach Mike Rechtorovic, whose Wildcats topped last year’s 18-team Hub Cup field. “It’s up to 20 teams, and it’s not like the new teams they’ve brought in (such as Urbana, South Carroll, Musselman and Northern Garrett) are slouches.
“Everybody has their individual goals. We just hope to wrestle well and let the chips fall where they may.”
North Hagerstown, which appears to be the class of Washington County this season, hasn’t won its own tourney since it repeated as champion in 2000. The Hubs finished fifth last year.
“My gosh, we’d love to win it again,” Slick said. “This is a real good bunch of kids, but to win the Hub Cup, you have to have 14 kids get points for you. You win a tournament like this by your depth. I just hope we’re going to be in the top five.”
There are several returning individual champions, including (with last year’s weight classes in parentheses): Greencastle’s Cody Carbaugh (103), Waynesboro’s Tyler Warner (135) and Trey Andree (140), Williamsport’s Zach Shoemaker (152) and South Hagerstown’s Aaron Rowland (285).
While Shoemaker — The Herald-Mail’s 2009-10 Wrestler of the Year — will be aiming for his third straight Hub Cup title, North Hagerstown sophomore Brendon Colbert — last season’s Wrestler of the Year — is still looking for his first.
Colbert went 35-2 last season, losing only in the finals at the Hub Cup and state tournament.
“I really want this one,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll win in the finals and our team will finish better than last year.”
Colbert, who is 14-0 this season at 126 pounds, is expected to drop to 120 this weekend.
“My main goal this season is to go undefeated and win states,” he said. “But I just have to take it one match at a time, and the next one is Hub Cup.”
The action starts Friday at 4:30 p.m. and concludes with the championship finals Saturday at 7 p.m.