After his No. 6 Francis Scott Key Eagles' 33-27 upset of Owings Mills, ranked No. 1 in the area and No. 5 in the state, a woman walked over to coach Bill Hyson and summed up the 1A-2A state duals semifinal victory.
"It looks like your kids had a little more of this," said Jackie Finch, pointing to a red heart-shaped pendant necklace dangling from her neck.
Apparently, she would have gotten no argument from coach Guy Pritzker of Owings Mills (16-1).
"They came out and just flat out-wrestled us," said Pritzker, whose Eagles have won three 1A-2A state tournament titles, including last year's.
"It seems like being No. 1 was a curse, because some of our kids were complacent. But take nothing away from Francis Scott Key. I question our desire to win, but there's no way you can question theirs."
Key (15-1) met No. 7 Hammond (16-0) in last night's title bout and was taken down, 35-26.
"The kids can be disappointed with the way they wrestled [against Hammond]. That's OK, but not with the whole day," said Hyson.
For the second year in a row, Owings Mills was without starter Willie Broadnax (189 pounds), who was attending his brother's wedding as the best man. Broadnax, third in last year's 1A-2A state meet, missed last year's event because of blood poisoning.
It was a key bout because a pin by Key's Bobby Bollinger (189) put the match mathematically away, 33-21, offsetting a forfeit to Owings Mills' Anthony Smith (heavyweight, 23-1).
But Key also was missing its best wrestler, No. 4 Matt Yinger (119), who is academically ineligible. Yinger, a fourth-place finisher at last year's state meet, was unbeaten in Maryland competition this season.
And Owings Mills took advantage there, as Drew Bowers (119, 23-1) collected his 21st fall in 1:28, putting Owings Mills ahead, 9-4.
However, Owings Mills was counting on victories in the first three bouts, including at least two pins. Instead, it went 1-2.
"Not getting the points down low, that put pressure on everyone else to keep it going with bigger wins than they're usually expected to have," said Bowers, a freshman. "And without Willie, who's our captain and our major motivator, it made things even tougher."
Key's Mark Mandell (103, 16-6), a Northeast transfer, used three takedowns in an 8-0 upset of Erik Walder (18-4), and Owings Mills' Billy Miller (112, 20-1) built an 8-0 lead but had to hang on to edge Clint Day (9-4) by 8-4.
In the middle, Key's Jason Hooper (125, 20-2) scored an 11-1 decision over one of Owings Mills' better wrestlers, Steve Kellner (20-4), as did Ryan Etzler (130, 19-3) with a pin of Dan Selnick to move Key ahead, 14-9.
Key also had the momentum in the three most pivotal bouts to go up, 26-18. Billy Null (135, 5-6) edged Richie Frieman, 8-5. J.T. Chiarutini (145) overcame a 5-2 deficit and survived nearly being pinned to deck Nick Noelte with 15 seconds left, and Brett Cowan (160) clung to a 3-2 victory over Haden Myers.
In between, Owings Mills won twice as Ari Dolid (140, 22-2) won, 10-3, over Tim Beale (13-4), and two-time state champ Steve Kessler (152) improved to 96-0 for his career when he planted Tony Cahoon with 15 seconds left in the first period. But it was Owings Mills' only pin.