That the No. 4 Westminster Owls defeated the No. 11 Francis Scott Key Eagles last night wasn't a big surprise.
It was the convincing manner in which it happened, the way the Owls jumped on the visiting Eagles from the start and didn't let up, not giving them one minute to think they were in the match.
The Owls took advantage of every opening in a 46-21 win over perennial power Key, which hadn't lost a regular-season dual match since the 1994-95 season.
"We worked real hard for this. Four-hour practices the last couple of days, literally," said Westminster coach Henry Mohlhenrich. "The guys were pumped up. We haven't beaten Key since I've been here [four years]. This definitely puts us with the elite in the county. The rest of the county has some good wrestlers and good coaches -- I'm not taking anything for granted."
And neither did his Owls (6-0, 1-0 county) last night.
Expected to take an early lead in the lower weights, they did just that, getting three pins and a major decision in the first four matches for a 22-0 lead.
Chris Reiter (8-3) needed just 48 seconds to get past Matt Wilson and record his sixth pin of the season at 103 pounds. Bobby Biden (8-1) made it 12-0 with a second-period pin against Ronnie Howard. Kyle Burger (8-2) was dominating in scoring an 11-0 major decision over Mark Mandell at 119 and Grant Lindsay (8-2) pinned Clint Day at the end of the second period to further increase the lead.
The tone was set.
"We felt we'd win those four matches, but we didn't give up a point -- that impressed me," Mohlhenrich said.
Biden, a junior and three-year starter, added: "This feels good; we finally beat them. We practiced really hard the last two days and our conditioning was great. We felt the second and third periods we would have an edge. We just prepared really well for this one."
Matt Yinger (6-1 at 130) gave Key (2-1, 1-1) its first points when he pinned Dusty Poore in the first period, but Westminster's Dave Spicer (7-3, five pins) got those six right back when he caught Steve Cahoon late in the first period.
The Owls had the match clinched at 152 when Austin Lanham (10-1, seven pins) decked Rick Morris in the second period, giving Westminster a 37-12 lead.
"You have to give credit to them and their intensity level. We need to find some of that ourselves," said Key coach Bill Hyson. "They have a group of kids who made an off-season commitment and did some things above and beyond the call of duty, and it's paying them dividends. Now the question is what are our kids willing to do to answer back?
"Tonight, the better team won. The big question for us now is, do we make it a learning experience or will we feel sorry for ourselves? If we feel sorry for ourselves, the Monocacy Valley Athletic League doesn't get any easier."
Westminster's Billy Mathis scored a 10-4 decision over Frank Hansborough in a rematch at 145. The two wrestled at the Annapolis tournament earlier in the season, with Mathis earning a closer decision. Ray Henry improved to 8-1 for the Owls with a pin over Bobby Bollinger at 189 and Jared Brown came away with an 11-8 decision over Key's Brett Cowan at 160.
The Eagles got pins from Tim Beale at 140 and heavyweight Mark Plank.
Many believed last night's match would help decide the county's regular-season title. While the Owls understand there's a lot of season left, they hope they made a statement that they're the team to beat the rest of the way.
Pub Date: 12/20/96