FREDERICK — — Even though his team was winning, Glenelg junior Glenn Lucas said there was a nervousness in the air as he took the mat for his 189-pound match against Winters Mill in the finals of the Class 2A-1A state dual meet wrestling championships Saturday evening at Linganore High School.
"Every match we were nervous," said Lucas. "We weren't assuming anything until it was all over."
This was the Gladiators' third visit to the finals in the past four years, and after coming up short the first two times, they won this one, 35-25.
Winters Mill thought it might have pulled an upset if the two matches at 189 and 215 had gone their way.
"We thought we had a chance at 189 and 215," said Winters Mill coach John Lowe. "But nothing but props to Glenelg. My kids didn't falter; Glenelg was just the better team tonight."
Lucas won his 189-pound match, 12-8, and his teammate, Matt Gochar, held on to win his, 3-1 in overtime at 215, stretching a string of Glenelg weight class wins to five for a 27-10 advantage.
"This is great," said a joyous Glenelg coach Chris Rosas, whose team is 29-2. "These seniors have worked so hard for this. They lost here as freshmen and last year. For them to win it this time, there isn't a more deserving group. We push them and push them and push them every day and they never blink."
The Gladiators started the afternoon with a dominating victory over Rising Sun in the semifinals, scoring seven pins. Winters Mill overcame Owings Mills (22-1), 40-29, in its semifinal after the match was blown open following an incident in the 160-pound class. With the teams tied at 12, Owings Mills' Larry Johnson was called for a body slam, an illegal move, while leading his opponent 10-2.
When the team trainer and a doctor determined Winters Mill's Allen Corbin was unable to continue due to an arm problem, Winters Mill was awarded the six points for an injury deferral and Owings Mills lost a point from its team score for a bad sportsmanship penalty on Johnson. The match went from a tie to Winters Mill leading, 18-11.
Corbin was later able to wrestle in the championship match, but the situation caused a major point shift and momentum swing that Lowe said "could have" impacted the outcome of the overall match, and Owings Mills coach Guy Pritzker said definitely did.
"Am I bitter?" said Pritzker. "My kids wrestled their butts off and this is a hard way to get beat. Everyone will say Pritzker is a poor sport, but I've been on both sides of this kind of call. I respect the ref's call. But my kid was winning by a wide margin. He didn't intentionally slam his opponent. If the score had been reversed, I'd have sent my kid back out and then defalted so the kid who was winning on the scoreboard got the points. I've done that. It that why we lost? Yeah."
Lowe said if this had been an individual weight class tournament where individuals advanced, he would have sent Corbin back out. "But this is a team tournament. It's a battle," he said. "Every point counts."
There were no such incidents between Glenelg and Winters Mill, but the on-mat action was decisive. The Gladiators were a physical, driving force. Once senior transfer Charles Walls gave his team a 15-10 lead with a 16-0 technical fall victory over Corbin at 160, Glenelg never let up, stringing together two pins, an overtime decision, a technical fall and a 7-6 decision from Joe Zoller at 112 to wipe away any doubt.
"This is so awesome," said Walls. "In my match, the overall score was tied 10-10 and I knew we'd needed bonus points. I just tried my hardest to get as many as I could. We all did. I came to Glenelg from a small team in Littletown, Pa. It wasn't a very good team. Now, to be on this team, contributing. It's amazing. Now it's on to the regionals and states [for the individual and team] championships"