North Carroll upsets Westminster, 32-30 No. 7-ranked Owls suffer 1st county loss in 2 years

January 22, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

North Carroll heavyweight Ben Fleming does not enjoy facing must-win situations. He says there's too much pressure.

But Fleming found himself in that position last night when Westminster came to North Carroll. Trying to pull off an upset, the Panthers trailed by just one point when Fleming took the mat against Clint Walker.

Fleming outfought Walker, scoring a tough 7-5 decision that sent the packed house into hysterics and gave North Carroll a 32-30 victory over No. 7-ranked Westminster -- the Owls' first Carroll County loss in two years.

Westminster (8-1, 2-1 in Central Maryland Conference, 1-1 in county), which last lost to South Carroll two years ago, was hurt by the loss of three starters. Injuries sidelined both Tim Sharkey (135) and Jimmy Reiter (125), and Jason Phelps (152) moved away earlier in the week.

But North Carroll (6-2, 2-0, 2-0) was ready for this match. The Panthers rallied from a late 10-point deficit to win the final three matches and beat the Owls.

"It will boost their morale," said North Carroll coach Bryan Wetzel. "It gives them confidence, which some of them needed."

The Panthers also needed some help from a bold strategic move that Wetzel employed late in the match. Trailing 24-20, he inserted Scott Thompson at 160 and bumped up Alan Hughes (171) and Adam Boog (189). Neither Hughes nor Boog had wrestled at those weights this season.

Jared Brown of Westminster quickly pinned Thompson in 91 seconds to give the Owls a 30-20 lead. Any victory would clinch the match for Westminster, but Hughes (11-4) then outfought Eric Westervelt for a wild 9-8 victory.

"I just wanted a win," said Hughes, who came from behind three times. "As a captain, I'm supposed to get wins."

That win was the turning point. Boog (14-1) came out and scored a takedown just six seconds into his match against Zach Riddle and pinned him at 1: 15, slicing the Westminster lead to 30-29.

Then it was in Fleming's hands. Walker gave Fleming a fit, but the North Carroll wrestler took a 4-2 lead after one. Fleming held a 5-3 lead early in the third when Walker nearly took him down. But Fleming (11-1) hopped over Walker, scored a takedown and hung on for the two-point win.

"I just went out there with all I had," said Fleming, who gave up 40 pounds to Walker. "It gives us a big boost. Hey, this is Westminster."

"They did a heck of a good job," said Westminster coach Henry Mohlhenrich of North Carroll. "They were prepared; they were on top of their games."

The Panthers started quickly, getting a pin from Fran Jackson (103) and a decision by Ross Bell (112) for a 9-0 lead. Chris Reiter (119) then got a forfeit for the Owls, and Bobby Biden (125) gave Westminster the lead with a pin.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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