Liberty romps, 52-17, over sagging Panthers

Lions post first win over North Carroll in school's history


High Schools

January 06, 2000|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Adam Rausch did what no other Liberty wrestler had ever done: clinched a Lions victory over North Carroll.

The junior's 7-6 decision at 160 pounds gave Liberty an insurmountable 19-point lead with three weight classes left, and Liberty went on to defeat the host Panthers, 52-17, for the first time in school history last night in Hampstead.

His win also helped the Lions, who improved to 6-3 and extended their unbeaten streak to three matches, gain their first county victory in two seasons.

But the talk afterward centered on achieving the historic win against North Carroll (0-4).

"North Carroll is one of the teams to beat," said Liberty senior and team captain Rich Skelly. "To win meant a lot to us. I think it raises our spirits."

Forced to compete without five wrestlers kicked off the team in November for breaking school rules, the Panthers entered last night's match also without Jesse Aguilar (125) and Tony Watson (135), both of whom quit the team before Christmas.

Liberty coach Mike Flemming acknowledged the turbulent season North Carroll was enduring but said his team's win was a shot to his squad's confidence, anyway.

"They're a little down this year, but for us to get a county win, it's a good steppingstone," he said.

Both teams split the first four weight classes with the Panthers trading forfeits at 112 and 125 for first-period pins by Tyler Graham (103) and Ross Bell (119).

But Liberty broke the 12-12 deadlock by collecting wins in the next three weight classes. Justin Muhl decked Mike Hichew at the 1: 21 mark of their 130-pound bout, Brandon Parrott scored an 18-5 major decision against JV call-up Travis Outten at 135, and Darren Stephens tilted Greg Keller at the 1: 15 mark of their 140-pound bout.

At 145, Cash McCary helped cut the Lions' lead to 10 points by pinning Steve Ensling with just three seconds left in the third period.

And Matt Bezanson appeared to be on his way to victory with an 11-2 lead on Liberty's Chris Risko in the second period, only to see Risko score a reversal and then pin him at the 2: 46 mark in what had to be the most surprising outcome of the match.

"I didn't think I would pull it off," Risko said. "I was on my back, and I knew that I had to fight out."

Rausch sealed the win for the Lions when he built a 7-2 lead in the third period and held off a furious rally by Keith Viens.

Rausch, who lost to Viens twice last season when both were on their respective JV squads, said he had no idea that his bout was the clincher.

"I wasn't even thinking about it," he said. "I was just fired up, and I went out there to win."

Skelly moved up from 160 to 171, where he decisioned Kyle Lettau, 11-7. Liberty's Matt Canada (189) and Brian Roos (heavyweight) ended the scoring with pins in the first period.

North Carroll coach Bryan Wetzel said Risko's win at 152 was the turning point.

"We were looking for six, but instead we gave up six," Wetzel said. "We had the ball rolling, and that immediately stopped the ball."

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