Moments after the final championship bout was contested at Saturday's UCBAC wrestling championships, longtime Fallston assistant coach Dennis Shiflett looked at me and said, "Who would have thought?"
I couldn't agree with him more.
The Cougars team win wasn't exactly improbable, but it was somewhat remarkable when you study the facts. The Cougars did a lot with a little.
Struggling all year to put no more than 10 wrestlers on the mat at any meet, the Cougars suffered a number of defeats simply because of the 24 points they were giving away each and every meet. That's four forfeits per meet for those who don't follow the sport.
So, the Cougars strapped on the wrestling attire and sent that same 10 kids to the mats Friday and Saturday, with maybe a hint that something special might be in store. The coaching staff may have had those thoughts, but the wrestlers, probably not so much.
Either way, it was the Cougars who led the team standings after the first night of action. On Saturday, Fallston saw its name slip a notch or two, but only for a while. As we know now, it wasn't permanent.
Even before any of the 14 championship finals were battled on the mats, Fallston was a few points behind Patterson Mill, a team who was quite the opposite this season. The Huskies posted a dual meet record of 12-2 and qualified for the dual meet postseason.
So, logic might say the Huskies, with a solid 14-man roster day in and day out, could have an advantage of sorts. Wrestling, my friends, is a different animal.
In past years, some of the higher team finishers in the state tournament have done so with just a handful of wrestlers. The longer a wrestler sticks around, the more points the team gets.
Obviously, it's nice to have those who skate through the event without a loss, collecting a title and the points that come with it.
There are other equally valuable points obtained by those who lose in an early round and then battle their way back to a top six finish. The Cougars were aided by three of those.
The Cougars had eight wrestlers finish fifth or better, highlighted by three individual champions. The Cougars had five in the finals, but head coach Andy Amasia said before the finals started, "We need three wins."
He was right. The three wins gave the Cougars the cushion they needed to stay ahead of a charging Rising Sun, who led all teams with five champions.
It was fun to see the Cougars pull off the feat. Congrats to all the Cougars involved in the wrestling program. Maybe this win will bring a few more grapplers into the room next season. Or maybe the Cougars are more happy with the small numbers. Not so much.
I also want to throw out my congrats to the girls basketball program at John Carroll. The Patriots won the IAAM B Conference championship Saturday, by winning its 21st straight game. Remarkable. Great job by all involved.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun