Winters Mill wrestling coach John Lowe talks about his team's 31-30 win over Westminster.

It was only five minutes, but it seemed like an eternity to Winters Mill wrestling coach John Lowe.

Lowe waited anxiously for the referee to determine which team had won the dual meet between his Falcons and visiting Westminster after the two squads finished in a 30-30 tie Thursday night.


It turned out to be host Winters Mill after the Falcons prevailed based on criteria.

Since both team teams had won seven individual matches, Winters Mill was awarded the match because the Falcons had one more pin than Westminster.

"I have been coaching wrestling since 1988, but it's the first time [a criteria win] has happened to me," said Lowe, who is in his 15th season as Winters Mill's coach. "I have seen it in the books many, many times. It was really tight. You prepare for it mentally, but at the end, it's a big relief when you get it."

Winters Mill, which improved its record to 8-5 and won its first county dual of the season (1-1), came storming back.

The Falcons trailed 24-9 with five bouts to go, and they prevailed in four of the five to tie it.

Freshman Hunter Merson (106 pounds, 21-7) earned a 16-0 technical fall to get the Falcons rolling. After two of Merson's teammates recorded pins, junior Zach King (113, 17-11) and freshman Colby Unkhart (120, 21-8), the Falcons took their first lead of the night, 26-24.

Sophomore Zach Caltrider (126) gave the advantage back to Westminster, 30-26, when he pinned freshman Stephen Pardoe in 5:02.

Then in a wild match, Winters Mill sophomore Nico Vagnier (132, 20-7) scored a 20-11 major decision over Westminster senior Jake Clark to make it 30-30.

"I could tell the way [Clark] was wrestling that Nico could get the major decision," Lowe said. "He held on to him at the very end to prevent an escape was absolutely everything. Nico is only a sophomore, but he has great composure and a lot of aggression."

Westminster took the first two bouts to go ahead 8-0. Brad Walsh (138, 23-2) won by technical fall, 16-1 over Bailey Konold, and Tyler Watkins (145, 21-2) topped Trevor Fawley 12-9.

Fawley cut the lead to 9-8 on a takedown late in the third period, but Watkins responded with an escape and takedown to give him a four-point cushion to seal the match.

The first victory for Winters Mill came at 152 when Troy Blessing edged Riley Eckenbarger 3-2. Blessing broke a 2-2 tie on an escape with 30 seconds remaining in the final period for the victory.

Any momentum Winters Mill picked up didn't last long. Westminster prevailed in the next two matches as Parker Strieb (160, 8-6) recorded a major decision over Josh Burndley 14-4, and Marley Warfield (182, 2-1) cruised past Hunter Lowe 7-0 to take a 15-6 lead.

Westminster then boosted its lead to 24-9 with dominating performance in two of the next three matches.


South Carroll's wrestling team stayed unbeaten in county matches thanks to a tri-meet sweep against Century and Liberty on Thursday in Winfield.

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Garrett Vandervalk (195, 20-5) took care of Alex Miller 23-7, and Jaime Rodriguez (285, 24-1) registered a 15-6 major decision over Kyle Shanholtz.

It was easy for Westminster wrestling coach Mike Flemming to forget about his team's lead with the way the match ended.

In his 22 seasons as head coach with the Owls and at Liberty, he saw only two other matches decided on criteria.

"A match like this is conflicting," he said. "But I am tremendously proud of the effort my guys gave. My guys really wrestled for each other."

138: Brad Walsh (W) t-fall Bailey Konold 16-1

145: Tyler Watkins (W) dec. Trevor Fawley 12-9

152: Troy Blessing (WM) dec. Riley Eckenbarger 3-2

160: Parker Strieb (W) m-dec. Josh Burndley 17-4

170: Casey Rowe (WM) dec. Hunter Myers 7-2

182: Marley Warfield (W) dec. Hunter Lowe 7-0

195: Garrett Vandervalk (W) t-fall Alex Miller 23-7

220: A.J Holmes (WM) dec. Christian Hauffman 10-4

285: Jamie Rodriguez (W) m-dec. Kyle Shanholtz 16-5

106: Hunter Merson (WM) t-fall Kyle Rizzo 16-0

113: Zach King (WM) pin Colin Moore 5:15

120: Colby Unkhart (WM) pin Nick Wingo 2:59

126: Zach Caltrider (W) pin Steven Pardoe 0:50

132: Nico Vagnier (WM) m-dec. Jake Clark 20-12


To see video highlights and interviews from the match, go to www.carrollvarsity.com