Wrestling rivalry becomes a happening


This event is no longer a friendly little neighborhood wrestling rivalry.

This is North Carroll vs. Francis Scott Key.

This has become one of the single most important and attended sports events in Carroll County every year. Six hundred tickets already have been sold, leaving only a few left.

A woman from Baltimore called Francis Scott Key Monday and asked if she could have some tickets set aside.

Sorry, said Key coach Bill Hyson, the tickets are only sold on a first-come, first-served basis at the Francis Scott Key main office. There is no reserving tickets. Better luck next year.

When Hyson asked the woman if she had relatives or friends on the North Carroll or Francis Scott Key squads, she responded: "No, I just want to ride out and watch the match."

That kind of interest from someone in Baltimore was a little staggering for Hyson.

After all, Francis Scott Key and North Carroll haven't exactly been a force in high school sports in the Baltimore metro area in past years.

But these two wrestling teams are different.

Year in and year out they are among the top five in the metro area. North Carroll (10-0) enters tonight's match ranked No. 2 and Key (9-0-1) is No. 5.

Almost everything will stand still in the two communities surrounding the two schools for two hours tonight.

This year it's Francis Scott Key's turn to play host to the match in Uniontown.

But North Carroll and Hampstead will be well-represented.

North Carroll sold 300 tickets to the match by Monday. If the demand for tickets to this showdown continues to grow, it might have to be moved to a larger arena such as Western Maryland College's gymnasium.

That would take away some of the coziness of the match, but has to be considered as an alternative to the jam-packed North Carroll and Key gyms every year.

A move to Western Maryland could mean the host school would make even more money than North Carroll did last year when it established a record take ($2,300) for a single indoor sporting event in the history of the school.

Last season's clash was a classic, with North Carroll winning, 31-24, giving the Panthers a 12-1 lead in dual matches since Hyson has been coaching against North Carroll's Dick Bauerlein.

However, Key won't go away.

The Eagles are back for more after finishing second to North Carroll in last weekend's Rebel Invitational at South Hagerstown.

Key is a bit young and overaggressive at times and has been hurt by pins. North Carroll is North Carroll, and can beat opponents sometimes just by showing up.

But the Panthers know this isn't a night to just show up.

They might need all the heroics the likes of Chris Boog, Tommy Kiler, Saidrick Lewis, Erik Hott and Doug Dell can pull off because Randy Owings, Zac Yinger, Chris Beale, Ryan Etzler and Steve Lessard are ready to make a statement for Key this time around.

Sounds like another fun evening in this continuing duel of wrestling giants.

Last year's match had a little bit of everything for the 1,300 fans who roared their delight throughout the 13 bouts.

There was a strong comeback by Key midway through the match when the Eagles reduced a 16-0 lead to 22-18, a controversial match at 145 pounds in which North Carroll's Hott won a 4-3 decision over Josh Bonnette after two points for a takedown in the final second were taken away from Bonnette, and Boog stepped up from 171 to 189 pounds for North Carroll and clinched the match by pinning Dale Bloom in 3:34.

Boog was getting pushed around all over the mat by Bloom before turning on him and pinning him for a 31-18 lead for the Panthers with only the heavyweight bout left.

It was good stuff.

Will there be a new hero this year? Or will Boog, a senior, once again have a chance to bask in the spotlight?

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