County tournament offers Key another shot at Westminster Owls return three champs from last year's tourney

February 21, 1997|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Shortly after watching his Owls win their first county tournament in 10 years last season, Westminster coach Henry Mohlhenrich declared: "Owl Pride is back!"

The goal for the Owls in tomorrow's 27th annual Carroll County Wrestling Tournament at South Carroll is keeping it.

After rolling to a 4-0 mark in their dual meets against county competition, the No. 5 Owls (16-2) are heavy favorites to repeat as tournament champs.

Their only likely test will come from No. 11 Francis Scott Key, which had won eight straight matches before losing to Lackey in Saturday's dual-meet state semifinals. The Owls defeated Key, 46-21, on Dec. 9, a little before the Eagles (12-4) got their act together.

So how does it feel to be the team to beat?

"I liked it the other way," Mohlhenrich said. "I was discussing that role with team members [on Tuesday]. Francis Scott Key pretty much figures the loss to us wasn't supposed to be. They're going to be geared up for the rematch and come out with guns blazing. They got off to a bad start and have come on real well since. And they're not fond of losing."

Six county champs return, including three from Westminster -- Jimmy Reiter, Bobby Biden and Grant Lindsay -- who played a major role in the Owls' 144-140 win over runner-up Key last year. Biden, a junior, is a two-time champion. Also back is Dameon Davis and Ben Fleming of North Carroll, along with Key's Tim Beale.

The lower weights, with Reiter (103), Biden (112) and Lindsay (119) coming away with wins, was where the Owls won last year's county title. They're strong there again.

Chris Reiter, Jimmy's younger brother, is 24-9 at 103; Biden returns at 112 with a 26-2 mark and Lindsay (24-7) will be looking to avenge a recent loss to South Carroll's Tim Hymiller at 119.

The next three weight classes is where things could get interesting.

At 125, Kyle Burger is 23-9 for the Owls. Key's Matt Yinger is 24-2 wrestling at 130, where Davis (15-2) has mostly wrestled at this season. Jimmy Reiter (13-7) is there, too. Westminster's Dave Spicer is 28-5 at 135. A number of those wrestlers can wrestle in any of three weight classes.

Does Davis stay at 130 and go at Yinger? Or does he jump to and tangle with Spicer?

With eight wrestlers with 20 wins or more, the Owls should have had a big advantage in last night's coaches meeting to seed the wrestlers. In the semifinal round, the top-seeded wrestler goes against the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 match, while the second seed figures to have a much tougher time with the third-seeded wrestler.

"A lot of the two's and three's look pretty close and even with some of the top seeds. A big part of winning the tournament is, first, getting to the finals and the second part is obviously winning. Winning the consolations are also important. We're just going to go out and place as many as we can," said Key coach Bill Hyson.

"We want to make a good showing and are also thinking down the road [to regionals and states]."

Some other interesting weight classes are at 145, 160 and 171.

South Carroll's Mike Muller came away with an entertaining 12-9 decision over Westminster's Billy Mathis at 145 earlier this month. Beale, who was the surprise of last year's county tournament with his title at 140, also will likely wrestle at 145 this time.

At 160, Key's Brett Cowan (22-8), North Carroll's Adam Boog (21-5), South Carroll's Jason Hamper (15-7) and Westminster's Jared Brown (15-13) make that weight class one of the most balanced.

North Carroll's Joe Hughes (20-1 at 171) has been the surprise of the county this season. He'll get a challenge from Key's Ryan Roach and Liberty's Mike Saylor.

Fleming will look to repeat as the heavyweight champ, and with South Carroll's Tom Crown out for the season with an injury, his toughest test will come from Key's Mark Plank.

Pub Date: 2/21/97

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