Boon or burden? It seems to North Carroll coach Dick Bauerlein that some of the state's most prominent wrestling coaches may have had a change of heart.
After two years of promotion, Bauerlein's plan for separate dual-meet state championships, in addition to the 23-year-old state tournament that crowns individual and team champs, begins during late February of the 1993-1994 season.
It passed by a 49-0 margin in last month's state association Board of Control meeting, and last Monday got the approval of the state's superintendents.
But to Bauerlein's surprise, some, like Northeast's Al Kohlhafer, Oakland Mills' Steve Carnahan, Owings Mills' Guy Pritzker and Old Mill's Mike Hampe, have different opinions about it.
"At first, it was whole-heartedly accepted," said 19th-year coach Bauerlein. "I sent out surveys and only two out of about 50 [coaches] were opposed.
"Now there are reservations, like if they don't qualify, there's a dead week for their kids. They're already conceding that they're not going to make it."
Bauerlein has had several unbeaten dual meet teams -- including last year's, which beat eventual 3A-4A champ Old Mill -- but never has won a state title.
"I've always felt that the best dual-meet team doesn't always win the states, so this is a great idea," said Owings Mills coach Pritzker, whose Eagles were two-time 2A-1A state champs before being dethroned by Northeast last year.
Like the present state tournaments in March, dual-meet versions allow for separate 1A-2A and 3A-4A state titles.
At sites to be determined during the state wrestling committee's September meeting, the new tournament will be held during the third week of February -- between the present county and regional tournaments.
Based on a point system in which the 4A and 3A schools are worth eight points and the 2A and 1A six, the four best teams from each of the eight regions will have an early week quad-meet. The regional champs will then compete in a weekend quad-meet.
Carnahan, whose team went 6-6 last year, traditionally has loaded his early season with tough opponents, with the long-range purpose of pre paring for the postseason. He has produced three state championship teams, but says the point system may force him to "strike a balance."
"I admire going after the big guns, but the [point] system is kind of going against that now. After last year, it's obvious I'd be eliminating my kids from participation," said Carnahan, entering his 16th season. "I've always viewed wrestling as the best of both worlds -- one-half individual and one-half team."
Hampe says, "I'm all for the new format," but 24th-year coach Kohlhafer says, "It's too much."
"If you don't qualify, you may not wrestle for two weeks. A few years back, that might have affected us," said Kohlhafer, whose Eagles went 12-1 after going 2-12 and 6-7 the previous seasons.
"I wish a lot of us had more input [into the plan] or we had waited a year, so [planning] was easier."
"With any new thing, you're going to suffer growing pains," said Hampe. "This is a tremendous opportunity for us and I congratulate Coach Bauerlein for doing it."