While the county is still stunned by the sudden fall of its two high school wrestling powers in the state 2A-1A tournament last weekend, it's time to look at the most logical reason for the failure of North Carroll and Francis Scott Key to battle runaway winner Northeast for the top spot.
Call it burnout from the pressures of a season-long duel for supremacy in the county.
The Panthers and Eagles spent so much time and energy trying to knock off each other in four competitions before the states that they just could not get up a fifth time.
Sure, it was the state tournament and all the wrestlers wanted very much to put on a good show, but the mind and body could not follow those wishes.
Most coaches will tell anyone who will listen that their athletes can get psyched for only so many games or matches a season.
High school athletes would be especially susceptible to that theory because they're younger and more impressionable.
"We're trying too hard to stay on top," said Saidrick Lewis, North Carroll's standout at 152 pounds. "If something bad happens, we take it too hard."
The Panthers and Eagles were ranked among the top five in the Baltimore metropolitan area all season, setting the stage for confrontations in the dual match, the Rebel Invitational, the county tournament and the regionals.
North Carroll won three of those four close run-ins with Key.
Four emotional duels in the stretch of three months took its toll on both teams.
Neither North Carroll coach Dick Bauerlein nor Francis Scott Key coach Bill Hyson would say his team was burned out.
But how else do you explain things such as North Carroll beating Old Mill in a dual match, the same Old Mill that blew away Northeast in a dual match, and then Northeast (120 points) romping by 49 1/2 points over the sixth-place Panthers (70 1/2 points) in the state tournament?
Or the fact that North Carroll goes unbeaten until the state regionals and the state championship?
Or the fact that Panthers Doug Dell and Jeremy Myers drop from a combined 60-0 record to 60-2 in less than 20 minutes?
Bauerlein glad season is over
A few hours after the state wrestling tournament ended Saturday night, North Carroll's Bauerlein said he was relieved that the season was over.
"There's been a lot of pressure on me the past month," he said.
"The seedings meetings were tough for the tournaments because people were trying to get an edge on us and beat us. Also, I felt the controversy in our dual match with Key [the Panthers' Eric Hott was given a 4-3 decision over Key's Josh Bonnette when Bonnette had two late points for a takedown taken away from him by referee Rich Logue at North Carroll] wore on me. I care what people think, and I don't like to hear talk that we didn't win the bout fairly. I've lost bouts the same way."
Bauerlein said the Hott-Bonnette bout strained some good relationships between the schools.
Wrestling tourney outgrows Gill
The largest crowds in the history of the state 4A-3A and 2A-1A wrestling tournaments packed their way into Gill Gymnasium on Friday and Saturday.
Tournament officials did their best to accommodate the crowds but didn't have enough room, bathroom facilities or parking.
Bauerlein, a member of the state wrestling committee, said changes have to be made.
"If we can't move it, we might have to juggle the schedules differently next year," he said.
Bauerlein enters Hall of Fame
The respect and admiration that wrestling people have for Bauerlein was never more in evidence than it was Saturday night at Gill.
Lt. Mike Crickard, who wrestled for Bauerlein at Westminster Junior High, drove all the way from Elizabeth City, N.C., to be on hand for Bauerlein's induction into the Maryland State Wrestling Hall of Fame.
"I had to be here for this," said Crickard, part of the Coast Guard Strike Force in Elizabeth City. "Dick Bauerlein is a tremendous role model. I love to watch his teams wrestle."
Former state wrestling committee member Frank Treuchet told a somewhat telling story during the hall ceremonies.
Treuchet said he was on his way to the tournament and stopped in Finksburg to shop when a woman approached him to talk about Bauerlein.
"She saw this wrestling jacket on me and asked me if I knew Mr. Bauerlein," Treuchet said. "I said, 'I sure do. Do you have a son who wrestles?' She said no, but that she had heard a lot of good things about Dick Bauerlein."