Even in the worst situations, it seems No. 2 Old Mill finds ways to win. Take, for example, last night's 3A-4A East dual-meet regional at Arundel.
The Patriots (15-2) were without five starters due to academic ineligibility and injuries, including a forfeit at heavyweight.
Still, they managed to win their semifinal, 37-25, over No. 15 Chesapeake (9-5), and 35-23 in the title match over No. 14 Broadneck (10-5).
Against Broadneck, Mike Ruth (160 pounds) overcame a 2-1 deficit with a second-period fall that put the match out of reach, 32-13. A decision by sixth-ranked Don Patterson (189, 23-5) helped the five-time 3A-4A state tournament champion Patriots advance to Saturday's state finals at Westminster.
"These were my first two varsity matches," said Ruth, a junior. "I didn't take it any different than junior varsity, where I'm 8-3."
After a major decision by Broadneck's Jake Schaeffer (171, 27-1, 18 pins), Patterson downed Matt Supercynski, 7-1, in what could be a preview of tonight's county tournament at South River. Patterson is the No. 1 seed, Supercynski is No. 2.
"I didn't want to go out there and go crazy," said Patterson, a junior. "I've pinned him the last five or six times, but this time he came out after me."
Old Mill was a 44-15 regular-season winner over Broadneck, which avenged a regular-season dual loss to No. 9 Arundel (11-4) by winning a controversial 30-30 deadlock after a tie-breaking criteria.
Old Mill-Broadneck was tied, 13-13, after six bouts, with the Bruins getting a major decision by Travis Paez (103), a fall from Lonnie Donner (130) and a decision from Isaac Putnam (135).
Old Mill countered with a decision by Jason Bryant (112, 23-2), a major decision by Shawn Radford (119, 21-5), which included five takedowns and six back points, and the second fall of the night by Paul Hultgren (125, 16-3).
The Patriots went up 26-13 after a first-period fall by Dave Basta (140, 16-4), a wild, 15-9 decision by Mike Hibbard (145) -- in just his fourth varsity bout -- over Broadneck's Joe Yancey, and the second major decision of the night by Larry Webster (152, 12-4).
In the Arundel-Broadneck semifinal, pins by Schaefer (171) and Supercynski (189) put Broadneck ahead 30-25 before Arundel's No. 3 John Noon (heavyweight, 22-0) came through with a third-period pin of Pete Borradaile to make it 31-30.
But the referee deducted a team point from Arundel after Noon pushed Borradaile after their bout, giving the Bruins the victory by virtue of having won seven of the 13 bouts.
"Some people thought we weren't even supposed to be here," said Broadneck's Putnam. "But after today, we feel pretty good."
Old Mill led Chesapeake, 21-16, after a decision by Chesapeake's Steve Davis (145, 20-4), but the Patriots' Webster (152) won, 21-8, including 10 back points, putting Old Mill up, 25-16.
Chesapeake's Jeff Everhart (160) trimmed it to 25-19, with a decision, but Old Mill's Marshon Boomer (171) pinned in his first varsity bout and Patterson (189) as well as Chesapeake's Scott Laumann (heavyweight) received forfeits.