The high and low of a season were separated by a little more than four hours yesterday for the Francis Scott Key Eagles.
After coming away with an impressive 32-27 win over No. 1 Owings Mills in the Class 1A-2A state dual meet semifinals, the No. 6 Eagles couldn't finish the job in the championship against No. 7 Hammond, falling 35-26.
The Golden Bears (16-0) jumped on the Eagles (15-1) from the start and never let them up at Howard High.
All the close matches the Eagles seemed to win during their run of 15 straight victories this season went the other way against the Golden Bears.
Hansel Henry's major decision over Key's Ryan Roach at 171 pounds clinched the title for Hammond.
"We've been real fortunate. Our kids are battlers and we ran into a team very similar to us tonight," said Key coach Bill Hyson.
"[Hammond] wrestled well. They won the tight matches that made the difference. It made for a rather interesting day with a lot of peaks and valleys. When we look back, we'll look at the whole season and not just the one day."
The misfortune for the Eagles started in the opening match after Mark Mandell had a 6-4 lead over Hammond's Vaymand Dennis late in the second period. Dennis scored a takedown in the final seconds of the period to tie the score and went on to win, 12-6.
At 119, Key's Brian Sanders had a 7-2 lead going into the third period before getting pinned by Tony Tan, giving Hammond a 15-0 lead.
Key battled back behind their senior co-captains Jason Hooper (125) and Ryan Etzler (130). Hooper scored a technical fall over Scott Osborn and Etzler got six points when Jan Grothe was disqualified for stalling, cutting the Hammond lead to 15-11.
"We've wrestled tough all year long, but didn't wrestle as tough as we could have tonight," said Etzler. "All year, we wrestled tough and won the toss-up matches but tonight things didn't go our way."
"We were glad we [beat Owings Mills], but knew we had to focus on Hammond. We knew they were a good team, things just didn't come out the way we wanted it to."
Hammond regained control with three straight wins, starting with Mike Loula's pin of Billy Null at 135.
At 145, Key's Jordan Chiaruttini had an early lead on Adam Clark before Clark came away with a 16-10 decision.
Few people expected Francis Scott Key to reach the finals with Owings Mills standing in the way.
Mandell got the Eagles off to a fast start with a 8-0 major decision over Erik Walder. Then trailing 9-8, Hooper gave the Eagles the lead for good with a major decision over Steve Kellner at 125.
Etzler (130) and Chiaruttini (145) followed with pins for Key with Null (135) and Brett Cowan (160) coming away with tough decision wins before Bobby Bollinger clinched the match at 189 with a pin over James Soliz.