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Winters Mill opened its regular season with a dual meet against Carroll County foe Manchester Valley, and the home match turned out to be a humbling experience for many of the Falcons.

Zach Kirby used some harsher words to describe his team’s 26-point lost to the Mavericks.

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“It was kind of a nice kick in the face for us,” Kirby said. “Yeah, we got smacked.”

Winters Mill has been doing the smacking ever since — Thursday the Falcons visited city rival Westminster and came away with a 53-21 victory.

They’re 10-0 since losing to Man Valley on Dec. 10, and that includes going 7-0 at home in the annual Grindstone Duals tournament the following weekend. Winters Mill (10-1, 2-1 Carroll County Athletic League) cruised past St. James, 64-12, and Century, 56-12, in December before returning to action last weekend in Easton for the New Year’s Brawl tourney.

Winters Mill's Colby Unkart tries to get Westminster's Dan Stephens off his back as they battle in the 138 weight class during a wrestling match at Westminster High School on Thursday, Jan. 9.
Winters Mill's Colby Unkart tries to get Westminster's Dan Stephens off his back as they battle in the 138 weight class during a wrestling match at Westminster High School on Thursday, Jan. 9. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

The Falcons crowned four champions in Garrett Dell (113 pounds), Alex Vagnier (126), Kirby (132), and Hunter Merson (145). Winters Mill took first out of 15 teams with 515 points.

On Thursday, WM reeled off seven consecutive wins to take command of the match. Kirby, Merson, Luke Chmar (160), Cayden Beard (195), Sebastian Springfield (285), and Brady Forte (106) each won with pins, and Winters Mill led 41-9 with four bouts remaining.

Kirby, who improved to 18-0 with his second-period pin against Westminster’s Dan Stephens, said the Falcons have been focusing on one thing in the practice room.

“Mainly conditioning, now with [new coach Eric Meszaros],” he said. “The main thing is conditioning. Last longer, I guess.”

Meszaros, who this season replaced longtime coach John Lowe at Winters Mill, said before the season he wanted to see the Falcons get stronger as the winter progressed in order to compete for postseason championships. Losing the first match of the year stung a bit, but Meszaros said the Falcons learned from the setback.

“We’ve got a couple of young guys in the lineup, varsity guys for the first time,” Meszaros said. “Getting beat by Manchester Valley ... might have been a good thing. They’ve got experience, they’ve got a lot more matches under their belts. Every time they step on the mat they’re getting better.”

Westminster (14-9, 1-3) had its own bright spots. Ryder Eckenbarger (120) started the dual with a pin for the Owls, and Jack Conrad added one at 220. Nathan Hohman held on to clip Alex Lowe 4-2 at 182, and five bouts later Ivan Allen put a stamp on things for the home team.

Allen, a freshman, squared off with Dell and pinned the WM junior midway through the second period with a nifty move right in front of Westminster’s bench. Allen handed Dell his first loss of the season (16-1).

The city clash took place in front of a special crowd as well — several members of the Westminster Mat Rats youth wrestling organization sat along the mat to witness the annual showdown.

Winters Mill's Zach Kirby, right, sweeps Westminster's Ben Carlow off his feet as he takes him down to the mat in the 132 weight class during a wrestling match at Westminster High School on Thursday, Jan. 9.
Winters Mill's Zach Kirby, right, sweeps Westminster's Ben Carlow off his feet as he takes him down to the mat in the 132 weight class during a wrestling match at Westminster High School on Thursday, Jan. 9. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Owls coach Mike Flemming said his young team is also still learning, and looking to improve.

“The kids battled,” Flemming said. “It’s that time of year where we’re looking at, what is the stuff? It’s either win or learn. We saw a lot of positives, we saw a lot of stuff that we’re going to work on, and a lot stuff that we’re going to clean up.”

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120: Ryder Eckenbarger (W) pin Damien Claypool 1:40

126: Alex Vagnier (WM) m-dec. Tyler Beaver 13-5

132: Zach Kirby (WM) pin Ben Carlow 2:19

138: Colby Unkart (WM) m-dec. Dan Stephens 15-2

145: Hunter Merson (WM) pin Connor Kolarek 3:08

152: John Alcorn (WM) dec. Trevor Scott 6-4

160: Luke Chmar (WM) pin Evan Click 3:25

170: Jake Stiff (WM) pin Kaden Jones 1:11

182: Nathan Hohman (W) dec. Alex Lowe 4-2

195: Cayden Beard (WM) pin Kaden Bryan 4:32

220: Jack Conrad (W) pin Cian McCauley 3:21

285: Sebastian Springfield (WM) pin Randy Green 1:25

106: Brady Forte (WM) pin Ty Streib 0:46

113: Ivan Allen (W) pin Garrett Dell 3:42

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