South Carroll tried to think of Wednesday's Class 2A-1A West dual-meet tournament as "gravy," extra matches awarded to the top four teams in the region and a chance to go after a different style of championship.
The Cavaliers got their gravy in the semifinals against Boonsboro, but couldn't keep it up in the title match against top-seeded Middletown. Despite being spurred by a possible revenge victory over the Knights, who beat SC handily during the regular season, the second-seeded Cavs fell 41-34 in the regional dual-meet tourney finals.
"We viewed it as a great opportunity to achieve some stuff, but really with no downside," said senior Tom Boldosser, who went 2-0 wrestling at 132 pounds. "If we lose, it's still great competition for our ultimate goals, which are coming up in these next couple of weeks."
Boldosser was part of South Carroll's 49-0 run to start the semifinal match against Boonsboro, and the Cavs chose to forfeit the final five bouts to win 49-30 and stay fresh for the finals. Boldosser and Cam Werner (126) each had major decisions, while Jake Mackenzie (138) posted a technical fall and Joey Judson (145), Shane Conners (152), Jamar Williams (160), Patrick Kelly (170), and Talmadge Eller (182) all picked up pins.
(Joey Thomas received the first of his two forfeits at 120 to open the semifinal.)
Pins from Conners and Williams cut Middletown's lead to 21-16 in the finals, but Kelly dropped a 3-1 decision to Sean Herrmann at 182. The Knights used it to craft a 20-point run and clinch the victory.
Ed Guerrero's 49-second pin against Jason Money at 285 sealed Middletown's win and advancement to Saturday's state duals tourney at North Point High School in Waldorf.
"These losses don't mean much," said Boldosser, but the Cavaliers didn't make the trip just to wrestle two opponents in preparation for the upcoming county, regional and state tournaments.
"We didn't come here to wrestle close, we came here to win," said SC coach Bryan Hamper. "We bumped everybody up to try and get the matchups we could to make it work. Live or die by the sword, and tonight we just didn't get it done."
Thomas, Werner, Boldosser, Conners and Williams each went 2-0 in the dual-meet tournament. But Middletown repeated as 2A-1A West champs and has a chance to win its first state duals title this weekend.
Meanwhile, Boldosser and Hamper said the Cavaliers, who finish at 30-4 in duals and the regular-season county champions, are ready to peak with the big postseason tourneys approaching. South Carroll won all three a year ago, defending its 2A-1A state tourney crown in the process.
The Cavs won six individual titles at the annual county tournament in 2015 and won their first team title since 2007, clipped Middletown to win the 2A-1A West tourney, and prevailed at University of Maryland behind three state champs.
Two of them, Thomas and Williams, returned this winter, along with a wealth of talented grapplers hoping to help South Carroll add some more hardware.
"We're built for tournament wrestling," Hamper said. "We had a great season, we won a lot of matches. But we're built for the tournament style. We've got three guys ranked No. 1 in the state and six guys [in the] top four, so as far as our projections for the whole season, we're in a great position."
South Carroll 49, Boonsboro 30
120: Joey Thomas (SC) by forfeit.
126: Cam Werner (SC) m-dec. Jon Grimm 19-7.
132: Tom Boldosser (SC) m-dec. Max Crist 17-4.
138: Jake Mackenzie (SC) tech fall Austin Marshall 21-6.
145: Joey Judson (SC) pin Will Thompson 0:38.
152: Shane Conners (SC) pin Travis Moats 0:57.
160: Jamar Williams (SC) pin Ralph Krenzer 0:08.
170: Patrick Kelly (SC) pin Ryan Crook 5:02.
182: Talmadge Eller (SC) pin Peter Riley 0:29.
195: Tristan Cook (B) by forfeit.
220: Walter Riley (B) by forfeit.
285: Ben Sandy (B) by forfeit.
106: Haven Huntsberry (B) by forfeit.
113: Jeffrey Henline (B) by forfeit.
Middletown 41, South Carroll 34
126: Boldosser (SC) pin J.T. Holcomb 3:30.
132: Sean Farran (M) pin Austin Clevenger 0:32.
138: Danny Bertoni (M) by forfeit.
145: Josh Paige (M) dec. Mackenzie 3-2.
152: Adam Bain (M) pin Judson 4:34.
160: Conners (SC) pin Cam Farrow 0:38.
170: Williams (SC) m-dec. Will Davis 16-6.
182: Sean Herrmann (M) dec. Kelly 3-1.
195: Tyler Clemmer (M) pin Eller 2:40.
220: Sean Mullican (M) tech fall Doug Summerlin 17-2.
285: Ed Guerrero (M) pin Jason Money 0:49.
106: Evan Hock (SC) by forfeit.
113: Thomas (SC) by forfeit.
120: Werner (SC) by forfeit.