Longtime rivals Key and North Carroll ready to take it to mat


December 16, 1992|By BILL FREE

Only in Carroll County.

That is the theme for the winter sports season here.

Where else could a tiny school like Francis Scott Key suddenly burst into the spotlight in any sport?

Key has turned the trick in wrestling, being ranked fourth in the Baltimore metropolitan area this week.

North Carroll, another one of the smaller schools in the county, is also a big-time wrestling school. The Panthers have finished second in the state championships three times.

North Carroll is ranked fifth this week in the metro poll, a position that will create some howls of anger in Hampstead.

That dissatisfaction is based on the fact that longtime rival Key is one place ahead of the Panthers. North Carroll traditionally has been stronger on the mat than Key.

Last season was no exception.

North Carroll defeated Key in a dual match, won the county tournament for a sixth straight season and finished third in the state 2A-1A championships.

But eight wrestlers are gone from that outstanding team, and Key returns all eight of its wrestlers who qualified for the state 2A-1A tournament last season.

This year's North Carroll-Key showdown will take place Feb. 3 at North Carroll. Look for the gym to be packed with an overflowing crowd into the lobby.

Of course, large crowds are commonplace for Key-North Carroll meetings in any sport. But wrestling is special for these two schools.

Wrestling fans throughout the state will be eager to find out the results of this match.

In contrast, a North Carroll-Key matchup in football or basketball barely draws a yawn around the state.

Adding to the overall scenario of wrestling at Key is the "farm image" the school has around the state.

Other schools, especially those from Baltimore and the Washington suburbs like to taunt the Eagles with all kind of farming catcalls.

Key coach Bill Hyson said he often plays along with the farm image and "it's been a fun thing."

Two years ago, Hyson said he had his wrestlers pose for a team picture on a combine to accentuate the school's image.

"Other teams from other counties kid us about being cornfield high," said Hyson. "So we had a team picture taken on a piece of farm machinery, a combine. We had a lot of fun with that."

However, none of those hijinks would be much fun if the Eagles had not developed into a wrestling force under Hyson.

The brother of the best football player ever to come out of Francis Scott Key (Jim Hyson who was a four-year letterman at the University of Virginia) certainly is challenging Dick Bauerlein and North Carroll for supremacy in the county.

Bill Hyson has built Key into a solid team from top to bottom. The talent may very well be there to supplant North Carroll this season.

However, there is always the mental aspect to overcome.

The Panthers have won the county title so many times that they expect to do it every year and have all the confidence needed to win a close bout.

Key is still the challenger and needs to knock off North Carroll in the dual match and the county meet to prove it is the best this season.

Whatever happens over the next two months, Hyson said it won't change the mutual respect between Bauerlein and him.

"Dick and I are pretty friendly," said Hyson. "We set a goal to be competitive and we work harder to be competitive. A lot of the kids on both teams are friendly because they see each other at a lot of activities like state fairs and other meetings. Wrestling has a lot of prestige at Key and North Carroll and that means a lot."

While everybody is waiting for the first of this season's confrontations, there will be numerous comparisons made between the two teams as they soar past opponents.

But there are a few numbers that loom large in the Bauerlein and North Carroll corner -- a 205-20 dual-meet record in 17 years.

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