Wrestling enthusiasm just keeps rolling over

CARROLL SPORTS

January 13, 1993|By BILL FREE

They really do love their wrestling in Carroll County.

A rather amusing scene at Westminster High on Saturday night showed just how much.

A few seconds after hated rival Francis Scott Key polished off host Westminster, 49-12, an overzealous Owls fan went straight to Westminster coach Solomon Carr and began preaching about the officiating in the emotional match.

The woman was angered by what she said she believed to be a lot of biased calls and asked Carr not to allow the same officials back in the Westminster gym again.

Carr, embarrassed by the scene, listened politely. But it was obvious he wished the woman would go away. Carr did not want to be part of any bashing of officials.

The woman was part of a large crowd that packed the gymnasium for the first of three big dual matches in the county this season, involving No. 3 North Carroll, No. 6 Francis Scott Key and No. 15 Westminster.

If you listen to some of the fans in the stands, these matches are almost a matter of life and death.

Why?

This is not a glamorous sport. It doesn't get the television exposure of baseball, basketball and football. Most Americans don't grow up with wrestling.

It is mostly about a bunch of dedicated boys and men who have to fight every day to meet weight. Then they go out and roll over the mats, sweating a lot and trying to pin their opponent.

During the season, many wrestlers have to give up pizza, dating and most of their favorite foods.

This is fun?

It certainly is at North Carroll, Key and Westminster. And they seem to be having a good time, too, at South Carroll and Liberty.

At times, basketball seems to be an afterthought to wrestling in the county.

There are a lot of theories why this is so in Carroll County.

A popular notion is that youngsters and parents get hooked on wrestling through the strong youth leagues in the county.

But it's safe to say basketball youth leagues have been around a lot longer.

The bottom line is success. North Carroll, Key and Westminster win a lot at wrestling.

North Carroll has been in the top five in the state for nine straight years. The Panthers have three second-place finishes under Dick Bauerlein.

"Young people see our winning teams and all the recognition we get and they want to be part of it," said Bauerlein. "Three times last year, kids at North Carroll Middle School were asked what they like most about their school and they said the wrestling team."

Bauerlein has been the primary force behind that top-notch program for 17 years. He never wrestled, but he read books, studied the sport and has become the premier coach in the county.

"Dick's personality is well-suited for the sport," said Key coach Bill Hyson.

"The techniques he uses would win in any other sport. Things like being fair to the kids and motivational tactics are big things for Dick."

Hyson was an outstanding heavyweight wrestler three seasons for Key in the early 1970s and has been coaching the Eagles for 14 years.

"Some of the things I coach best are some things I could not do on the mat," said Hyson, who came close to making the state tournament three straight years.

All four of Hyson's assistants -- Jim Harrison, David Dodson, Jeff Yingling and David Wheeler -- wrestled for Key.

"We try to teach our kids to have respect for others on the mat," Hyson said. "We teach them to respect that they all have made sacrifices to wrestle."

Hyson's way of coaching has worked enough to put the Eagles in a good position to challenge the Panthers for the No. 1 spot in the county.

And Carr is trying to move Westminster into the same class with North Carroll and Key.

"Stability is another reason for our success in Carroll County," said Bauerlein. "Hyson has been around for 14 years, Pete Olson has been at South Carroll for 11 years and Solomon Carr has been at Westminster four years."

Bauerlein coached eight years at Westminster before moving to North Carroll.

All that continuity doesn't hurt. But it wouldn't mean much if Bauerlein and Hyson weren't superb coaches who know how to win.

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