Though out-of-state teams dominated yesterday's ninth-annual Gilman Duals, it was a pair of local wrestlers who took center spotlight.
It had been 52 matches and nearly two years since Owings Mills 135-pounder Gregg Kessler had lost a match. But in a final round, in a battle for fifth place, Gilman's John Kim sent the home crowd to its feet with a surprising 11-6 win.
In the championship matchup, St. Mark's of Delaware, ranked No. 22 nationally by USA Today, posted a 35-29 win over Oxford (Pa.). The teams were tied entering the heavyweight division, but the Spartans' Travis Ciriaco pinned Oxford's Scott Blevins to secure the Delaware team's third straight Duals title.
In the battle for third place, Aberdeen, ranked No. 10 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, defeated Woodberry Forest (Va.), 45-16, as six Eagles won by either pin or technical fall.
For the host Greyhounds, however, Kim's win alone was reason to celebrate.
Kessler, who had entered the match ranked first by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, hadn't lost since March of 1990 in the state wrestling tournament at Western Maryland College, and hadn't given up a point this season until a match last week against Pikesville.
But Kim, ranked second in the state, said he was up to the challenge.
"I just felt so ready," said Kim, 22-0 this season. "Everything was working for me. When I first found out I had to wrestle him, I was a little intimidated, but then I faced up to it. I knew I had to focus."
Kim took command from the outset, scoring on a pair of takedowns and an escape to take a 5-3 lead at the end of the first period. He then began the second period with an escape and another takedown to extend the lead to 8-3.
"I knew I was up for a good match," said Kessler, who fell to 18-1, "but I thought I'd do a little better. He was definitely the best guy I've faced so far."
Owings Mills got some redemption by winning the match to take fifth place. The Eagles trailed, 31-16, with three matches left, but 171-pound Sigmund Frazier defeated Gilman's Steve Lim, 3-1, and the Greyhounds were forced to forfeit their 189 and heavyweight matches.
L DeMatha beat Blair Academy (N.J.), 43-25, for seventh place.