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Carroll County has 3 wrestling teams preparing for regional dual-meet tournaments

Call it wrestling’s version of March Madness — the regional dual-meet portion of the season is here, with 64 teams vying for a state championship by the end of the week.

It’s akin to the traditional NCAA men’s basketball tournament, where 64 teams square off in win-or-go-home fashion, each fighting for a championship. Carroll County has three teams in action Wednesday, Feb. 12, and two of them are hosting regional tournaments. Semifinal rounds (on two mats) start at 5:30 p.m., and the winners face each other to follow.

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Manchester Valley has the Class 3A East tourney, where the Mavericks are the No. 1 seed and facing Mount Hebron in the semifinals. Meanwhile, South Carroll is No. 1 in 2A West and the Cavaliers get county rival Winters Mill in their semifinal Wednesday in Winfield.

The other 3A East semifinal in Manchester features River Hill against Marriotts Ridge; Middletown and Glenelg square off at SC in the second 2A West semifinal.

Regional champions advance to the state duals Saturday, Feb. 15 at North Point High School in Waldorf.

This year, teams get one point for each regular-season county dual-meet victory. Then, the order of finish at the county tourney adds points to the county title chase — seven for first place, six for second, and so on. The team with the most points after that is the county champion.

The Mavericks (37-2 overall) are 13-1 in matches that count toward the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s official standings. They reached a regional final last season before falling short, losing to Linganore in the 3A West tournament, and coach Dave Dodson said his veteran-laden squad set a course for 2020 based off that defeat.

Man Valley is hosting a regional dual-meet tournament for the first time in school history.

Manchester Valley's Thomas Chenoweth pinned South Carroll's Gage Duncan during their 152-pound bout in WInfield Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020.
Manchester Valley's Thomas Chenoweth pinned South Carroll's Gage Duncan during their 152-pound bout in WInfield Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020. (Dylan Slagle)

“It has been something we’ve been striving towards for a long time,” Dodson said. “It has been the driving force in our whole season, to get back to the regional duals and have an opportunity to win it.”

The focus soon turns to individual success, with wrestlers competing in county, regional, and state tournaments in the coming weeks. The MPSSAA put more emphasis on duals in 2018 when it eliminated team champs at the traditional state tourney and expanded the dual-meet events to four classifications (it was 2A-1A and 4A-3A from 1994-2017).

Manchester Valley is searching for its first regional duals championship, while South Carroll and Winters Mill want to add another to their ledgers. The Cavaliers haven’t won one in 10 years but they have five in program history; the Falcons claimed three in a row from 2011-13 (they won state titles in 2012 and 2013).

Carroll County Times local roundup for Feb. 8, 2020.

The Cavs (13-1) took down Winters Mill (12-2) last week, 47-21, and coach Matt Thomas said his young squad is eager to compete once more in its home gym.

“At this point in the season, you always see that grind ... this group of kids [is] so young, but they’re itching at the bits for Wednesday,” Thomas said. “They’ve bought in. They’re looking forward to the first round, they’re looking forward to the finals, and they’re looking to punch that ticket for Saturday.”

South Carroll last reached a state duals final in 2005.

Winters Mill wrestling coach Eric Meszaros looks on as juniors Ezekiel Durham, left, and Sebastian Springfield compete in a wrestle-off during practice in Westminster Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.
Winters Mill wrestling coach Eric Meszaros looks on as juniors Ezekiel Durham, left, and Sebastian Springfield compete in a wrestle-off during practice in Westminster Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Winters Mill lost its season opener to Manchester Valley, 44-18, and coach Eric Meszaros said the result was a positive for his team. The Falcons didn’t lose again until their clash with South Carroll, and Meszaros said they’re looking forward for a second crack at SC.

Winters Mill got to a regional semifinal in 2018 and 2019 but bowed out against Damascus, the eventual state champ. With the Hornets moving up to Class 3A, there will be a new 2A state champ in 2020.

“Our guys, they’re excited,” Meszaros said. “They’re champing at the bit to get back out on the mat as a team.”

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