As early in the season as it is, the big wrestling match in Carroll County is already here.
Defending regular-season champ Francis Scott Key, 2-0 on the season and ranked 11th in the metro area, travels to Westminster tonight to take on the 1995 county tournament champ Owls, ranked fourth with a 5-0 mark.
The Owls appear to have a slight edge.
They are at home. They're a bit healthier with Key having the tougher time battling the flu bug. And they have been simply dominating teams so far.
The Owls' latest romps came on Monday when they easily handled Fallston (55-12) and Howard (57-11) in a tri-match.
They also had the better showing at the Annapolis Tournament, finishing fourth (the Eagles were eighth) in the 13-team field. But the same thing happened last year, and the Eagles came back to beat the Owls in the dual meet, 29-27.
With two solid, well-coached teams, anything can happen.
"They [the Owls] are real sound fundamentally, and aggressive," said Key coach Bill Hyson. "It's a match where you have to create your own opportunities. Each team has an inside track on some matches, and there's potential for some toss-up matches that will be big."
Westminster coach Henry Mohlhenrich agreed and has the same kind of respect for the Eagles.
"They're a good group of kids who don't like losing in Carroll County," he said.
The matchups are still in question with a number of Eagles having trouble with the flu season.
"We're fighting it, and they've gained some sympathy from me," said Hyson, who's also a little under the weather. "We'll have to wait and see who we have."
The Owls aren't 100 percent healthy, either.
Mohlhenrich likes his team's chances in the lower weights, led zTC by standout Bobby Biden (6-1 at 119).
The 125-pound match, likely to feature Key's Clint Day against either Grant Lindsay or Kyle Burger, could be pivotal, because Key is expected to get big points from 130-pound standout Matt Yinger and Steve Cahoon, solid at 135.
From the 140-pound class to 152, there's a chance of seeing rematches from the Annapolis Tournament. Westminster won all three. Dave Spicer took a 14-0 major decision over Tim Beale at 140; Billy Mathis decisioned Frank Hansborough, 8-5, at 145; and Austin Lanham pinned Bill Null at 152.
The Eagles' strength and experience is in the higher weights, starting with senior Brett Cowan (7-1 at 160), who should get a test from Westminster's Jared Brown.
Key's Ryan Roach is 4-2 at 171; Bobby Bollinger is 3-2 at 189; and heavyweight Mark Plank is 6-1.
The Owls counter with Ray Henry (7-1) at 189, and Mohlhenrich also expects Sean Winter to give Roach a good go at 171.
Last season, it came down to the heavyweight match with Plank getting a first-period pin over Randy Stull, who is not on the
Owls' squad this season, to put the Eagles over the top.
Pub Date: 12/19/96