The Fallston Cougars wrestling team has struggled to put a full squad on the mats all season. The 2012 Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference Tournament was no different.
The Cougars sent 10 wrestlers into the battle, with eight scoring points. It was enough to hand Fallston the team championship Saturday evening at Bel Air High School.
Fueled by three individual champions and eight wrestlers with fifth place or better finishes, Fallston racked up 163.5 points to beat defending champion Rising Sun's 156. Bel Air was third with 155.5 and Patterson Mill fourth with 154. Perryville rounded out the top five with 134.5.
"We thought coming in here, if we got a few breaks, we might be able to compete for the championship," Cougars head coach Andy Amasia said. "We didn't obviously think we could win it, but we thought we'd be competitive."
As it turned out, it wasn't so much the breaks that propelled the Cougars, but hard work, according to coach Amasia.
At the top of the ladder were three Fallston champions. Only Rising Sun had more title winners, with five.
Zach Cullison and CJ Austin defended titles won a year ago to lead the Cougars. Joe Medicus also won a title for Fallston.
Cullison avenges earlier loss
For Cullison to win the 132-pound title, it meant facing the holder of his only loss this season, Bel Air's Jeff Taylor. Their title bout was the definitely the most anticipated of any in the tournament.
When three periods and six wrestling minutes were up, Cullison had avenged the early season loss with a 1-0 victory. An escape in the third period was the lone point of the match.
"That first match killed me," Cullison said. "I've been undefeated since and I try to keep going and going, putting him in my rearview mirror now, looking forward to states."
Two finals later, Austin earned his second straight crown, beating C. Milton Wright's Ben Swanson, 6-3 at 145 pounds.
Three takedowns by Austin was enough as Swanson was limited to a reversal and a escape. All the scoring was done in the first two periods.
Medicus, a runner-up last year, took the top spot at 106 with a dominating 5-0 win over Bo Manor's Tyear Castle. A takedown and near fall in the first period was all Medicus needed.
Two other Cougars weren't so fortunate in the two heaviest weight classes. Ridge Myers fell at 220 to CMW's Ty Rochester, 7-5, while Jesse Harmon was edged 3-2 at 285 by Rising Sun's Ty McGee.
The Cougars also had a third (Austin Rutkowski at 182), a fourth (Garrett Coburn at 138), and a fifth (Will Shipley at 126).
"I'm real proud of my team and my coaches," Amasia said.
Tech's Brush repeats
Harford Tech's Dillon Brush was also a repeat winner, taking the 182 title with a 8-0 major decision over Perryville's Jake Ritter. Brush scored a takedown in each period and added two escapes as well.
Rising Sun's Anthony Cimorosi was also a repeat winner at 152, pinning Bel Air's John Cross in 1:53.
Bel Air's William Holder-Moore was the only other champion from the Harford side of the UCBAC, winning the 170 crown. Holder-Moore dominated Elkton's Msema Msacki through two periods for a 8-1 lead, before pinning him 47 seconds into the third period.
Perryville and Rising Sun split the other six titles. Chris Brown, the UCBAC's only undefeated wrestler, now 35-0, won the 113 title for the Panthers. Joining him were teammates Andrew Brown at 126 and Amos Harlan at 138.
Rising Sun also claimed titles at 120 with Weston Lynn; Lance Eveland at 160; and Jake Brown at 195.