Thursday's wrestling match was a good measuring stick for Winters Mill and host Owings Mills. For one, it was a step in the right direction. For another, maybe a little hiccup.
The visiting Falcons (1-3) fell behind early but rallied to win 11 consecutive matches to defeat the No. 11 Eagles (3-2), 49-24. Both teams dropped matches to Leonardtown (14-1) before facing each other.
"What you saw tonight were two historically strong teams in a rebuilding mode," said Winters Mill coach John Lowe, whose team won the Class 2A-1A state title last year. "Some of our guys showed what they were made of, and we pulled it out. Any time you can win in this gym, it's special."
The Eagles won seven state titles under former head coach Guy Pritzker, who retired this year after 31 years at the school. New coach Shawn Girch is now trying to rebuild an Owings Mills team that finished second to the Falcons last season.
The match featured two of the better wrestlers in the area: Owings Mills' Jacob Rendelman and Winters Mill's Jake Utz.
Rendelman won both of his matches at 126 pounds, defeating Leonardtown's Alex Cuklanz, 8-0, and Winters Mill's Mike Bower with a pin 11 second into the match. Utz was not as fortunate, losing to Leonardtown's Brian Mays on a reversal, 3-2, as time expired in overtime. Utz had held a 2-1 lead through most of the overtime session.
For Rendelman, this year is a chance to prove he can be one match better. As a sophomore, he advanced to the state championship at 106 pounds before falling to Williamsport's Nick Miller on a pin in the finals. Naturally, the loss motivates the junior.
"I have the medal over my bed," Rendelman said. "It's not here because I'm proud of it, though I am. It's there to show me how much further I have to push to get to first. That's my goal."
Rendelman has taken on a leadership role for the young Eagles.
"We have some good young guys [on the team], but we need to step up," he said. "That's where those of us with experience have to step up. We need to show them how to do that."
As for Utz (220), Lowe isn't all that concerned with an early-season loss.
"The way that kid wrestled him was like a college match," Lowe said of Utz, who lost to Glenelg's Sean Twigg in the heavyweight state championship last year. "With the big guys, it's hard to score points on them. He lost a few matches last year, but he's a great wrestler."
Lowe says the Falcons' win was a big one. Not only was it their first of the year, but it also avenged a lopsided loss to North Hagerstown in Westminster the night before.
"It's a slow process," Lowe said of rebuilding. "I am working with the junior leagues, so we are really sending people to ourselves. It's all about establishing a culture of winning. We've done that recently, and [Owings Mills] has done that for a long time. This was a big step for us tonight."
Leonardtown 60, Owings Mills 15
Leonardtown 45, Winters Mill 20
Winters Mill 49, Owings Mills 24
120 – Beckar (OM) p Johnson, 3:41; 126 – Randelman (OM) p Bower, :11; 132 – Goode (WM) p Hollingsworth, 4:26; 138 – Fisher (WM) p Knight, 1:02; 145 – Rinker (WM) d Davis, 18-10; 152- Guercio (WM) p Solomon, :34; 160 – Kirby (WM) Cashman, 3:38; 170 – Myers (WM) d Jurave, 3-1; 182 - Over (OM) p Perez, 5:28; 195 – Randall (WM) p Woodard, 3:56; 220 – Utz (WM) wbf; 285 – Sharpe (WM) wbf; 106 – Naill (WM) wbf; 113 Mack (OM) p Carr, 1:07.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun