HAMPSTEAD — North Carroll wrestling coach Dick Bauerlein figures he upset some wrestling fans Friday night when he juggled his starting lineup in theshowdown with Old Mill.
Much of the wrestling world was anticipating a thriller at 140 pounds between Brent Layman, the state's top-ranked wrestler, and sixth-ranked Jason Myers. But Bauerlein, looking for an advantage against Old Mill's powerful upper weight classes, shifted Myers to 145 pounds.
Had the strategy worked, perhaps Bauerlein's move wouldn't be open to such debate. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Myers lost a controversial 5-4 decision to John Bliss, himself the state's sixth-ranked grappler at 145.
On the scoreboard, anyway, the Panthers had nothing to show for the lineup shuffle and Old Mill won six of the last seven matches on the night for a 39-21 victory.
But Bauerlein shouldn't have to defend himself. In 16 years, he made North Carroll one ofthe best wrestling programs in the state. True, he hasn't won that elusive state title -- though his teams have come close several times,including 1989, when Old Mill nipped the Panthers by a point -- but Bauerlein has coached his share of state champs and has sent several wrestlers off to good college careers.
And while Bauerlein likes agood bout as much as the next guy, his goal Friday night was a team victory. And in that regard, Old Mill's Mike Hampe, himself no slouch as a mat coach, said the lineup moves by Bauerlein were smart.
"When he switched, that threw us off a little bit," Hampe admitted.
But it didn't throw the Patriots off enough for a North Carroll victory.
Old Mill had won three straight bouts coming into the 145 match, turning a 15-9 deficit into an 18-15 lead.
Bliss took an early1-0 lead with an escape in the second period, Myers countered with atwo-point takedown a few seconds later and Bliss rallied with a two-point reversal to take a 3-2 lead into the last period.
Midway through the final stanza, the two traded reversals, leaving Bliss with a5-4 lead heading into the final seconds of the bout. With about 15 seconds remaining, Myers made an escape move and got himself on top ofBliss.
Bauerlein said Myers had at least escaped from Bliss -- for one point and a tie in the match -- and might even have gotten a two-point reversal for the win. Hampe said Bliss still had control.
But that debate was after the fact. During the match, the officials felt Bliss retained control, and he came away with the one-point win.
Now, even if Myers had won his match, the six-point swing wouldn'thave saved North Carroll. But the psychological boost to other wrestlers in the lineup could have made a difference.
Still, Bauerlein said, his team needed to score more earlier in the contest. He had beenhoping for a win from Chad Miller at 112, but Old Mill's Vytas Dulysscored a 7-5 victory despite having to shed 3 pounds earlier in theday to make weight. Todd Hultgren's 9-4 victory over Scott Bruce at 135 pounds also hurt the Panthers, Bauerlein said, and forced him to shift Myers in hopes of scoring more points in the upper classes.
North Carroll did do well from 119 to 130, scoring 15 straight pointsto take a 15-9 lead with the help of pins by Tom Dell and Justin Deibel. And Dave Foster, who sang the National Anthem before the meet, pinned Old Mill's Sun Park in 3:28 at 160 pounds.