Key, North Carroll ready to rumble Unbeatens decide mat title tonight

February 03, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

The nice talk is over.

Forget the bus rides together and the trips to the county fairs.

This is serious business.

It's No. 3 North Carroll going to the mat against No. 5 Francis Scott Key in the Super Bowl of high school sports in Carroll County.

These 9-0 teams will meet in a packed North Carroll gymnasium that certainly won't be big enough for everybody who wants to watch this confrontation for the county dual-match title.

Many observers believe this is the biggest dual match in the county in 13 years. The last matchup of this magnitude came in 1980 at North Carroll, when Westminster defeated the Panthers by one point.

For North Carroll, tonight's 7 o'clock meeting is a chance to prove again that it is still the premier wrestling school in the county and one of the top in the state.

For Francis Scott Key, it's an opportunity to show that it can wrestle with the state's elite teams.

"People don't look at us with the same respect they do other schools in the state, including North Carroll," said Key coach Bill Hyson. "We're still earning respect. We want to be in the upper echelon, and we'll be there if we win."

The Eagles certainly turned some heads last weekend in the South Hagerstown Invitational, winning seven individual championships and going 4-0 against North Carroll in head-to-head bouts.

Those seven champions, including Randy Owings, who is ranked second in the state at 130 pounds, are good enough to create all kinds of headaches for the Panthers.

Key also had a third-place finish and a fourth in the tournament, but finished second overall, nine points behind North Carroll in the 12-team standings. The Panthers had three champions, four runners-up, a third and two fourths.

Key's performance gave the always crafty North Carroll coach Dick Bauerlein the opening yesterday to proclaim: "We're the underdogs now. They [Key] had seven champions at South Hagerstown."

But Bauerlein knows few people are buying into that thinking.

The Panthers have the home mat, the tradition, a wall of talent at the lower weight classes that can build enough points to take the heart out of any opponent and Bauerlein, who is 214-20 in dual matches in 18 years at North Carroll.

The North Carroll wall at the lower levels features four wrestlers who have a combined record of 70-2 this season.

Those two losses, by freshman Tom Kiler (now 18-1 at 125) and his brother Andy (16-1, 130), a senior, came last weekend at South Hagerstown.

Junior Doug Dell (18-0, 103) and senior Jeremy Myers (18-0 at 112, but most likely at 119 tonight) remained unbeaten.

Myers is the defending Class 2A-1A state champion at 103 but keeps gaining strength by lifting and would give the Panthers a force at 119 against Francis Scott Key's superb sophomore, Steve Lessard (18-2).

Bauerlein apparently has decided to move Myers to 119 tonight, but he would not announce it yesterday.

"Jeremy is almost sure of six points [a pin] at 112," said the veteran of 26 wrestling seasons at Westminster and North Carroll. "But we lost a wrestler at 119 and need Jeremy up there. We'd have to do some shuffling to replace him at 112."

When Bauerlein has moved Myers to 119, he has inserted sophomore Dave Traenker (2-0) at 103 and moved Dell from 103 to 112. Bauerlein made those switches against South Carroll and Frederick and easily won both dual matches.

"I'll probably sit down with Tom Davidson, my assistant, and go over the lineup three or four times before the match," said Bauerlein. "I'm always thinking of possibilities before and during a match. Then I go home after a match and go back over my card and see if I did everything right or if there were other switches I could have made. "

In addition to moving Myers up, Bauerlein is expected to move Chris Boog (18-0) from 171 to 189.

In contrast, Hyson most likely will come to town with a set lineup. "I haven't done much of it [switching personnel]," he said. "I play around with certain possibilities in my mind but seldom use them."

One of the reasons Hyson doesn't make changes is that he has eight wrestlers back from last season who qualified for the 2A-1A state tournament.

In addition to Owings and Lessard, the top Key threats are Ed Null (160, 20-1), Chris Beale (135, 19-2), Zac Yinger (140, 17-2), Josh Bonnette (145, 17-4), Jason Hooper (103, 15-4), Dale Bloom (189, 16-5) and Mark Smith (heavyweight, 15-5).

North Carroll lost eight seniors from last year and has only four seniors.

The Panthers also lost senior Clay Merriman at 145 for the season when he decided to get a job, and Aaron Skinner has been ineligible at 189 the past two months.

"We've been forced to make switches because of our losses," said Bauerlein. "Key's got a lot of quality kids back from last season. We'd better clean up down below with people like Doug Dell and Jeremy Myers. But we're not conceding them anything at the higher classes."

Hyson said the match is "too close to call. It will probably come down to who scores the pins and who avoids them. Both teams have kids good enough to catch and pin."

Hyson doesn't believe the home mat for North Carroll will have much of an effect.

"Out there on the mat and in the bench area, you can't really hear a lot of the noise," he said. "Mentally, we're pretty good. I don't want to use the word peak because I don't want the season to end here. We still have the county tournament, the regionals and the states, as well as a dual match with Smithsburg in our conference [Monocacy Valley League]."

The Key coach believes that the main winner tonight will be wrestling and high school sports in Carroll County.

"It's great that the high school athletes will get a chance to be involved in something like this," said Hyson. "I know it's a thrill for me, as well as them."

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