ELDERSBURG — Winning dual meets that hinge on the final few bouts can test the mettle of even the most veteran-laden squad, which is why Westminster coach Mike Flemming left Century High School on Thursday feeling pretty good about his team’s performance.
After all, the Owls feature one senior in their starting lineup compared to four freshmen and two sophomores. But Westminster prevailed 39-32 in a match that came down the final bout.
Tyler Beaver clinched it with a pin at 132 pounds, but the junior got his share of help. Freshmen Ivan Allen (113) and Ryder Eckenbarger (120) earned nine team points with a decision and a pin, and when Century went ahead with a pin of its own Beaver had to win for his team to come out on top.
“They did a fantastic job,” Flemming said. “Century came and they didn’t want to be overlooked, and they battled. They came ready to go. For us, we saw a lot of positives. ... Anytime we’re in that team portion of the season, we’re looking at guys who are doing their jobs.”
Beaver was one of them, and he pinned Jack Armstrong in the first period for Westminster (17-11, 3-3 in the Carroll County Athletic League).
“I’ve wrestled a lot in the past, and I just knew what I was going to do,” Beaver said. “I was going to go out there, only do my attacks. And once I did that, I knew I was going to be fine.”
Westminster won four bouts in a row to grab an 18-11 lead, but the Knights (11-19, 1-5) had answers. Alex Ellis clipped Jack Conrad at 195, and Brayan Bautista wowed the home crowd with a nine-second pin at 220 to give Century a 20-18 advantage.
After Randy Green posted a pin at heavyweight for the Owls, Jake Hurst (106) notched one for Century to make it 26-24. The Knights fell behind 33-26 before Ben Johnson posted a pin at 126, setting up the finale.
Century won its first CCAL contest in beating Francis Scott Key last week, and the Knights got it thanks to a 10th criteria tiebreaker after they tied the Eagles 30-30 during the dual. A lopsided loss against Manchester Valley followed, but coach Steve Willingham said he’s pleased with his team’s effort.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in the lineup that are new, never experienced any type of wrestling,” Willingham said. “To be here in front of the home crowd in a match like tonight, where it went back and forth ... it’s exciting for them. They experienced it the other night at Key, and here they are back in front of their home fans doing it again."
Both squads are through with their CCAL schedules, and focus soon shifts toward the annual county tournament. Individual success begin to take precedence, but matches such as Thursday’s can certainly benefit everyone involved.
“We’ve all gotten really close, and I think that helps us with our performance,” Beaver said. “We’ve been doing great things in the wrestling room, and we’ll just get better from here.”
138: Eli Woods (C) pin Dan Stephens 2:44
145: Stephen Hurst (C) tech fall Connor Kolarek 16-1