N. Carroll continues to wrestle with loss of key members

Panthers get back Jackson, Smith, but lose Bowman for three weeks

January 08, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Just when it appeared the 10th-ranked North Carroll wrestling team was about to take two steps forward on Thursday, the injury-prone Panthers took one step back.

On a night when the Hampstead team saw the return of 152-pounder Fran Jackson and 145-pounder Kyle Smith for a match against Liberty, it also lost one of its better wrestlers when 160-pounder Tom Bowman, who fell awkwardly off the mat during a match and popped his elbow out of its socket.

Jackson (knee) and Smith (shoulder) had each missed about a month. Now, the Panthers (10-2 overall, 1-0 county) must contend with losing Bowman for approximately three weeks.

While certainly an inconvenience, coach Brian Wetzel said his team's depth has allowed it to remain a top contender despite the setbacks.

"We're solid enough against most teams to be OK," Wetzel said. "We have backups who are really quality kids."

One of them who will now be in the spotlight is 160-pound reserve Jan Wanek, a senior in his first high school season who possesses great strength, though not much experience.

North Carroll also has been without its heavyweight, Ben Wigley, since he tore cartilage in his chest early this season. He is expected to be out for the remainder of the year.

Still, the Panthers have barely flinched, thanks in large part to a deep group led by senior Cash McHargue (171), who has won 18 of 19 matches, including championships at both the McDonogh and Arundel tournaments. He went 3-0 with two pins last week.

The team also features Seth Knights (119) and Tyler Graham (130), both of whom have been ranked.

Wetzel said his team has the talent to win a state title, provided some of its key performers aren't on the shelf.

"I think we need to get the whole team back healthy and everybody remembering what our main goal was this year," Wetzel said.

Trout, Centennial good fit

For 26 years as a boys basketball coach, Ed Trout did things one way - his way.

He was fair, but strict, a yeller and a screamer in the locker room after tough losses as a coach at Central in Prince George's County and as a junior varsity coach at Centennial.

So, two years ago, when he took over the Eagles' girls varsity program, he coached pretty much the way he always had.

"After our first big loss last year, I screamed at the girls for the first time, and they looked at me like `Are you crazy?' " Trout recalls with a laugh. "I found out quickly that, emotionally, I was in for a big change."

A season and a half later, Trout certainly seems to have gotten the hang of it, and his players have certainly developed the feel for him. Despite losing its top scorers to graduation, Centennial has been the early surprise of the county season thus far, going 7-3 overall and 5-1 in county play. The No. 9 Eagles recently defeated preseason favorites Mount Hebron and River Hill, both of whom were ranked in the top 5 at the time, and gave No. 6 Glenelg a tough game before falling, 60-50.

"I've been pleasantly surprised," Trout said. "We lost 40 percent of our scoring [to graduation] and had a pretty weak JV team a year ago. We just had to find a way to compete. "

Impressively, Centennial has played its best when the stakes were at its highest. In the fourth quarter this season, the Eagles are shooting over 80 percent from the foul line, which was a big key in the upset wins over the Vikings and the Hawks.

"We seem to almost shoot better when we're tired," Trout said. "We try to spend a big chunk of practice conditioning and shooting free throws. In close games, it's really paid off. We lack depth and the girls know it, so they work extra hard to prepare."

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