Poly heavyweight Dennis Scott scored a takedown with two seconds left for a 6-4 victory over Joppatowne's Tony Zeller, making him Baltimore City's first state champ at the 1A-2A state tournament at Western Maryland College.
Four Dunbar wrestlers -- Bruce Pendles, Martius Harding, Hermondez Thompson and, last year, Dennis Perry -- all had placed second in past years, as had Walbrook's Jamil Stokely.
"I'm speechless," said Scott, shortly before accepting his championship plaque. "I mean, who expected this except maybe me and my coach? I really just don't know what to say."
Scott's actions during the match said it all. After a scoreless first period, Scott went up 3-0 with his second-period escape and takedown.
Down 4-3 with 39 seconds left, the 6-foot, 265-pound Scott escaped for a 4-4 tie with 22 seconds left. Scott began his bout-winning shot with 10 seconds on the clock, the force of his weight pushing Zeller's hands to the mat. Scott spun behind for two points, then threw both hands skyward.
"Fatigue wasn't a factor. I just wanted to let it all hang out," said Scott. "I'd beaten him before, 7-5, at the Dundalk tournament, so I was confident. With my coach in my corner, I knew I could do it."
Scott's breakthrough bout appeared to be a 16-7 thrashing of Baltimore County and two-time region champ Greg Walker, a 6-7, 235-pounder, in the semifinals. Following instructions perfectly from coach Kirk Stehman, Scott executed seven takedowns.
But unknown to many was the fact that Scott (26-6) had handled Walker, ranked No. 6 in the state this season, in similar fashion last season.
"It was the same thing," Stehman said. "Walker taking shots, Dennis pummeling in and taking him down. Today, he did a good job of that again, but his tougher match was in the quarters."
In that match, Scott overcame Queen Anne's Ken Hartman, 7-6.
But before this all-time high, Scott experienced several lows.
First, the senior failed to defend his Baltimore City title, finishing third there. Scott also was third at regionals, losing to Hammond's Matt Nelson, last year's state runner-up and the eventual region champ.
In an earlier tournament at Dundalk, Scott was pinned in 30 seconds by Patapsco's Bill Hook, whom Walker has twice defeated this season.
"But it's not about where you start, it's how you finish," Stehman said.
And yesterday, all those wrestlers finished behind Scott, who now has a state title.
"All that time, coach kept telling me, `Keep working hard. Just keep the faith,' " Scott said. "That's what I did, and now, it's all paid off. It's a feeling you just can't describe. It's unbelievable."