South Carroll senior Jamar Williams talks about his team's loss to Southern Garrett. (Tom Worgo / Carroll County Times)
Talk about pressure on both wrestlers — one individual match decided the overall team winner in a postseason event.
Southern Garrett junior Alec Horner pinned South Carroll sophomore Joey Judson at 160 pounds in 1:00, lifting the Rams to a 39-36 victory over the Cavaliers in the Class 2A-1A West Region dual-meet semifinal at Middletown in Frederick County.
Southern Garrett coach Dave Taylor bumped Horner up from 152, and he got the result he wanted.
"It was a good move and one I have been thinking about for a couple of days," he explained. "I knew the last match would decide it. We were going for the pin and our kid is a pinner."
South Carroll is a regular in the 2A-1A West Region dual-meet semifinal under coach Bryan Hamper, but it was the first time the Cavaliers lost in that round. They advanced to the final four times and the state semifinals once.
"I was pleased with what I saw from my team tonight," Hamper said. "We wrestled pretty good, and we had the effort we needed, but I believe if we had a full lineup, the match would have went the other way."
Senior Tyler Harbison (145, 33-5, 20 pins) sat out the match because he was sick.
As a result, Hamper moved sophomore Steven Dahl (30-8) up from 138 to 145 and inserted senior Alec Melanson, who was brought up the JV, into the slot at 138.
Southern Garrett's Jimmy Schwab scored a 9-2 decision over Dahl and the Rams' Jace Guy (33-7) pinned Melanson in 1:50.
"If Tyler is in the match, it's a whole different outcome," Hamper said. "It's a nine-point swing."
For a good part of the match, it was close. South Carroll had some key victories late to go ahead.
Cavaliers' two-time state champion and senior Joey Thomas (126, 38-1) won by technical fall, 25-10, over Jake E. Sweitzer to give his team its first advantage, 27-24.
Three bouts later, senior Jake Mackenzie (152, 36-3) pinned freshman Cole Baker in only 28 seconds to make it 36-33. But, Horner dominated the final match and dashed any hopes of South Carroll advancing to face Middletown, a 46-33 winner over Northern Garrett.
The Cavaliers had to dig themselves out of an early hole.
Jamar Williams (170, 39-0) also a two-time Cavs state champion, pinned senior Patrick Duggan in 1:39 to get his team off to a good start, but the Rams took the next four matches.
After Joey Embleton got a forfeit at 182, Southern Garrett got three straight pins to go ahead 24-6. Sophomore Hunter Park (195) decked Matt Staley in 1:30, Scotty Tichnell (220) pinned Mason Yeager in 1:40 and it took the same amount of time for Cole Sweitzer (285) to record a fall over Pat Quinn.
South Carroll came back quickly when freshman Jagger Clapsadle (106, 37-2) registered a 12-2 major decision over Brison Dixon.
"Clapsadle beat a kid who was undefeated on the year," Hamper said of a wrestler who was 37-0. "He earned a major decision."
The Cavaliers added back-to-back pins from Dakota Bowers (113, 36-3) and Travis Crawford (120, 39-0) before Thomas' win.
In the closest match of the night, South Carroll sophomore Cam Werner (132, 39-7) edged fellow sophomore Nate Tasker, 3-1 — Werner scored on a takedown with three seconds remaining in the final period to pull it out.