Will Bauerlein enter Hall with state title in hand?


February 24, 1993|By BILL FREE

Imagine this scene.

Carroll County wrestling legend Dick Bauerlein finally wins his first state championship for North Carroll High and immediately is inducted into the Maryland State Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Family, friends and wrestlers descend upon the coach with admiration and adulation. Bauerlein is so overwhelmed by it all that he is speechless and just smiles.

Roll the cameras.

All this could come true March 6 at Western Maryland College at about 7:30 p.m.

Bauerlein's Hall of Fame induction was announced last Saturday night at the county tournament at Liberty, the close-knit Bauerlein family will be there for the ceremonies along with friends and wrestlers, and Bauerlein easily could play his part.

He will be only the second person from Carroll County to make the state wrestling hall, joining one of his star wrestlers, Tommy Reese, in the elite field.

Reese was a two-time state 185-pound champion at North Carroll in the late 1970s and went on to the University of Maryland, where he won three ACC heavyweight championships, finished fifth in the nation to earn All-America status and was the second-winningest wrestler in ACC history.

However, the final piece to the movie-like scene has to be provided by the second-ranked and 13-0 North Carroll wrestlers.

Bauerlein and the Panthers have been denied so many times in past years that it seems as if the time has come for them to grab the brass ring.

Three second-place state tournament finishes, a 216-20 dual-match record in 18 years for Bauerlein at North Carroll, and a top-five finish the past nine years in the states show just how strong the Panthers have been.

But Bauerlein won't predict a state title this season. He has seen too many unbelievable things happen to his teams when they have been on the verge of a state championship.

Also, fourth-ranked Owings Mills, fifth-ranked Francis Scott Key, sixth-ranked Northeast and Smithsburg all are capable of winning in a rugged state Class 2A-1A field, said Bauerlein.

Bauerlein believes a lot of the 2A-1A schools are stronger this season than the larger 4A-3A schools.

"If you look at the individual and team rankings, many of the small schools are ahead of the larger ones," he said.

Bauerlein belongs in the state wrestling Hall and joins top-flight company in the likes of Reese and fellow high school coaches such as Old Mill's Mike Hampe and Aberdeen's Dick Slutzky.

Bauerlein has turned Carroll County into a mecca for high school wrestling, giving a lot of youngsters a chance to be recognized around the state and an opportunity to attend major colleges such as Maryland.

That just doesn't happen in other sports in the county.

It's amazing what the man has accomplished at a school that has only 1,040 students from the ninth to 12th grades.

And to think that Bauerlein has never wrestled except in physical education classes at Shepherd College.

"I thank the Lord for my success in coaching and for my family," he said. "I have a good job, a good home and a great family that is very supportive. I love wrestling and work hard at it. My wife [Vicki] can tell you I have 3-by-5 lineup cards all around the house."

The entire Bauerlein family gathered at the coach's house last Sunday night to celebrate the Panthers' seventh straight county tournament championship.

All three daughters were there. They are Mindi Wagner, the field hockey coach at Francis Scott Key; Kelly, a teacher at Winfield Elementary School, and Ketti, a Baltimore County paramedic.

Those moments with the family are what Bauerlein seems to cherish most and soon will take him into retirement.

But before he goes, he has some more teaching and coaching to do.

"I spend a lot of time in practice just talking to my kids about life and how they can be better people when they leave school," said Bauerlein. "Parents wrestle every match with their kids. I wrestle every match with all my wrestlers."

In fact, when asked what his biggest disappointment was in 18 years at North Carroll, Bauerlein said it was a controversial loss by North Carroll 126-pounder Danny Thomas in the 1984 state tournament.

Thomas was the returning state champion but was eliminated by a quick pin call by the referee who later admitted his mistake but couldn't change the call.

"I felt sick to my stomach," said Bauerlein. "A close second to that feeling came in 1991 when a badly hurting Tommy Dell was leading by four points with 15 seconds left but got put on his back in the final seconds. I'm always down when a kid loses like that."

This coach is a true Hall of Famer.

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