WESTMINSTER -- Matt Slutzky threw back his head, raised his hands and absorbed the applause from the standing crowd of 10,000 at the Western Maryland College gymnasium.
With his 13-1 Class 4A-3A state championship victory Saturday night over Charles County's McDonough's Larry Green, last year's state tournament runner-up, the 135-pound Aberdeen wrestler became Maryland's first four-time state champion. Slutzky, a senior with an "A" average, had won his previous titles at 119, 125 and 130 pounds.
"This is the greatest feeling ever," said last year's Baltimore Sun Wrester of the Year, who has a public school career record for victories (122-5-1). "It's like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders."
His father and coach, Dick Slutzky, said he feels the same way.
"I've been in the business for 38 years, and I've never had anyone work as hard at accomplishing goals as he has," said Dick Slutzky. "But I'm glad it's over. If I have another kid, it's going to be a girl."
Old Mill coach Mike Hampe shared the spotlight with Slutzky. His Patriots captured an unprecedented fourth straight Class 4A-3A state tournament title. The Patriots scored a state tournament record 130.5 points last year but, with only one champion -- junior Marc Procaccini -- this year, edged McDonough, 116-99.5.
Perhaps the team's youngest member, fourth-place sophomore Jason Bryant (103), said it best: "It's an individual sport, but you need a team concept to really win."
Owings Mills repeated as Class 2A-1A king, edging Smithsburg, 91.5-85.5. Last year, it scored a 2A-1A record 125 points.
Coach Guy Pritzker said the team was struggling internally when a loss to Overlea, in which five wrestlers were pinned, brought the Eagles together.
"It made us realize you have to be a team to win," said Pritzker, who was last year's Baltimore Sun Coach of the Year.
Cory Setlen (119, 31-1), Gregg Kessler (130, 34-1) and Grant Johnson (160, 33-1) all captured crowns, with Kessler and Johnson winning their second straight.
With his second consecutive state title, Oakland Mills' Class 2A-1A heavyweight champion Monte Spencer improved to 26-1. In winning last year's Class 4A-3A title, the 235-pound first-team All-Metro selection went 36-1. He is fifth on his school's all-time victory list with an 84-11 record.
After finishing third last year, Bel Air senior Scott Birth (125) used a pin and a decision to reach the finals, where he dethroned Paint Branch's two-time state champion Craig Middledorf. Randallstown junior Johnny Montgomery (145, 33-1) emerged from the side of the bracket that included Old Mill's previously unbeaten John Bliss and Lackey's Jason Batchelor. Montgomery needed an overtime takedown to win, 6-4, over McDonough's Damon Newsome.
In winning his Class 2A-1A state title, North Carroll's Tom Dell (135, 29-1) pinned three opponents before winning his title bout, 8-1, over Elkton's Brad Calehuff.
In the previous two years, Dell lost in the state finals. Two years ago, his left arm swelled badly for an unknown reason during the state tournament. He fell, 14-12, to Thomas Stone's Ronnie Ruffner (112). Last year, he was upset by Trevor Doing (119) of Frederick.
It looked as if history would repeat this year when Dell injured the middle finger of his left hand the day before the regionals.
"I thought, 'Here we go again,' " said North Carroll coach Dick Bauerlein. But the story ended differently after Dell received extensive treatment and endured the injury to win the Region I title.