Friday night was special in Pylesville, where North Harford celebrated 50 years of wrestling before hosting a dual meet with Aberdeen.
The Hawks celebrated the school's wrestling past in a pre-meet reception and brief ceremony, before this season's Hawks beat Aberdeen, 34-33, on Senior Night.
Despite the final team outcome, Aberdeen senior Daniel Velez made his season debut successful in the meet's highlighted bout.
Velez, who recovered from torn labrum surgery, met Trevor Smith in the 138-pound bout. After a 50-second or so scramble between the two, Velez was awarded a takedown with :30 left in the first period.
Trailing 2-0 entering the second period, Smith chose down to start. Velez was able to control Smith the entire two minutes and the match went to the final two minutes still 2-0.
Velez chose the neutral position to begin period three and, in just 22 seconds, upped the lead to 4-0 with a takedown.
Velez worked Smith the rest of the period and earned a fall at the 5:51 mark.
"I didn't want to be gassed out there, but I knew I was going to be," Velez said after the meet. "I just wanted to go out there and wrestle."
The Velez win was sandwiched by two other Eagle wins. Billy Morris also pinned in 1:28 at 132 and John Jones outlasted JT Kidd, 12-8, at 145. The Eagles led, 21-10, at that point.
North Harford, however, won the next three to retake the lead. Sam Nelson pinned Ryan Schoenberger in 5:06 at 152 and Greg Fiackos decked Frank Jiogo in 2:23 at 160. Angelo Koulatsos collected a forfeit at 170 and the Hawks led, 28-21.
Neither team had a wrestler at 182 and Aberdeen then had back-to-back pins to surge back ahead. Rocko Hillhouse pinned Grant LeSata in 4:39 at 195 and Adric Turner Jr. stopped Patrick Lawrence in 2:47 at 220.
Aberdeen's lead, 33-28, was short-lived though, as the Eagles second lost forfeit, which went to Justin Reineke at 285, gave the Hawks the win.
The meet started at 106 with a double forfeit, before Aberdeen's Marcos Colon-Pappaterra pinned Dominic Barbera in 5:31 at 113.
North Harford's first win came at 120 with talented freshman Austin Mitchell dominating Dylan Morris, 17-6, in a major decision win. The Hawks other win came at 126, where Will Sadowski pinned Evan Smith in 3:08.
Celebrating 50 years
At the pre-meet ceremony, event organizer and former North Harford student and wrestler Joe Pruitt welcomed those in attendance with a few words and some history of the Hawks program.
"If you didn't wrestle, you don't understand," Pruitt said, noting the night was also about renewing interest in wrestling and that life lessons were learned through participation in the sport.
Wrestling began at North Harford in 1964 and it's believed that Hawks' teams have posted a dual meet record of 320-210 in that time. North Harford teams have won regional and what were county titles, but no state titles or UCBAC titles – "yet," that is, Pruitt said.
Three former wrestlers from the inaugural team attended – Don Scarborough, Darryl Arnold and Charles Zamzow. Past head coaches in attendance were Fred Holtz and Dean Petty.
In 50 years, the Hawks have celebrated five individual state champions. David Hoeck was the first in 1973, claiming the 132-pound title. Paul Glamp followed with a heavyweight title in 1974 and Tim Tarbert closed out the champs of the 1970s with the 167 crown in 1978. Glenn Allen was the 138 state champion in 1983 and the last Hawk grappler to pull down a title was Steve Conrad in 2001, winning the 103 title.