The Bel Air High wrestling team had to settle for a runner-up spot the past three years at the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference Tournament. On Saturday, the Bobcats put those finishes behind them for good, and with an overwhelming team performance took the 2014 tournament championship at Aberdeen High School.
The Bobcats won three individual titles and placed 12 wrestlers fifth or better to score 258.50 points, more than 100 points better than runner-up Bo Manor's 153. Patterson Mill was third with 147 and Fallston, the two-time defending champion, was a respectable fourth with 139.50. Aberdeen rounded out the top five with 115.
"It feels good," Bobcats head coach Craig Reddish said. "We've won the regular season for a handful of years now, we've been more of a dual meet kind of team."
Saturday's league tourney title was the Bobcats fourth. They won three straight in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
"It's exciting, exciting for these guys to come away with a team title at the end of the year," Reddish said.
Rounding out the team scores were Harford Tech, 114.50; C. Milton Wright, 114; North Harford, 105.50; Rising Sun, 104.50; Perryville, 88; Elkton, 83; Edgewood, 44; North East, 40; Havre de Grace, 23; and Joppatowne, 11.
Junior Cameron Watts, a 132-pound champ a year ago, hauled in Bel Air's first individual title, winning the 145-pound crown 5-0 over Nelson Phillips of Rising Sun. Watts scored a takedown in each of the first two periods and added an escape in period two.
"He [Phillips] actually beat me earlier in the year, so I just went out there and worked my hardest," Watts said. "It feels great, because the team has just been working hard and even the JV kids stepped up and went to countys and they still placed."
The JV kids Watts referred to are Drew Dyer, third at 220, and Tom Gomez, fourth at 182. Two others, Dalton Foster at 113, and Andrew Haney, 160, didn't place, but both won early matches to contribute to Bel Air's team title.
"I'm most proud, we had four backups in. That excites me as coach, program wise," Reddish said.
'It feels awesome'
Senior John Cross followed at 152 with a 3:23 pin of Bo Manor's Matt Sciammanna. Cross nearly pinned Sciammanna with a double arm bar in the first period, before using the same move to end the match in period two.
Cross, who was a member of the three straight runner-up teams, was obviously pleased with this year's result. "It feels awesome, it's nice," he said.
The final Bel Air individual title came at 195, with senior Cyler Crawford needing just 45 seconds to pin Patterson Mill's Joe King.
Championship hopes of three other Bobcats were cut short. David Reagan lost his first match of the season as Cody Trybus of Bo Manor won the 106 title, 11-7.
Ryan Beveridge was also stymied by a Bo Manor opponent at 132, losing 8-2 to Tyear Castle.
Grant Fleming lost 9-4 at 170 to Fallston's Gordie Reilley, who had a bit of revenge on his mind.
"I lost to him in the beginning of the season, that's why I wanted to beat him so bad," Reilley said after the bout. "My hand had just been fractured two days before I wrestled him, so I was wrestling him with one hand and he kept working on it. I only lost to him 5-1 and I knew I could beat him this time."
Bel Air's third place finishers were Gavin Rupprecht, 113; Sam Guo, 138; and Dakota Crawford, 285. Brady Stafford was fifth at 132.
P-Mill's Nikkila wins at 126
Four other Harford County wrestlers also won individual laurels.
The first was Patterson Mill's Jake Nikkila, who needed double overtime to beat Rising Sun's Joe Juergens, 2-1, at 126.
"I knew going into it that he was pretty much the toughest guy here and that it would just come down to being aggressive and getting after it," Nikkila said.
Tied 1-1, Nikkila and Juergens battled through a one-minute OT period without a score. In the second overtime, which is two 30-second periods, Nikkila started on top for the first 30 and maintained control the entire 30 seconds.
"That was the hardest point of the entire match, he's an amazing scrambler and to hold him down, I might have gotten a little bit lucky there," Nikkila said.
Nikkila, from bottom, then worked an escape early in the 30-second period that stood up for the win.
"I knew that I was struggling to hold him down because he kept moving, so I figured I should do the same thing," Nikkila said.
Juergens was the 106 champ in 2013.
CMW's Thier topples Rutkowski
C. Milton Wright's Doug Thier also needed double overtime in his 182 final with Fallston's Austin Rutkowski. Rutkowski, the defending 182 champ, was hit with a stalling call in the final 10 seconds of regulation to force OT.
Like the Nikkila match, this match went the same distance with Thier gaining the winning escape with 5 seconds left.
Eric Eckstein of Patterson Mill repeated as 220 champion. Eckstein scored in every period against Aberdeen's Adric Turner, en route to an 11-5 win.
Fallston heavyweight Alex Helm was also a repeat winner at 285, dominating C. Milton Wright's Alan Dorsey, 11-1.
Three-peat for P'ville's Brown
Chris Brown of Perryville became a three-time champ, repeating at 120 with a 7-0 decision over Elkton's Tim Taylor.
The Trybus brothers from Bo Manor collected three titles among them.
In addition to Cody's win at 106, Kyle Trybus won at 113, beating Colin McDonald of Patterson Mill, 6-2, while Jacob Trybus won his second straight 138 title, major decisioning Aberdeen's Daniel Velez, 14-5.
The 160 title went to Rising Sun's Will Barton, 3-1, in overtime against Edgewood's Shawn Kluchinsky.
An escape by each was all the scoring in regulation. Barton then scored a takedown with :25 left in the overtime period to take the match.