The Westminster Owls won their second straight Class 3A-4A West region dual-meet title in the strangest fashion last night.
The record book will show a 33-31 Westminster win over Eastern Tech of Baltimore County in the final, and the Owls advance to the state dual-meet championship Saturday at North Carroll, but there was so much more.
The No. 5 Owls (14-1) were cruising along and apparently had the region clinched at 152 when Austin Lanham scored a major decision win over Dave Woodard to give them a 39-6 lead.
That's when the controversy started. Shortly after that bout, officials reversed a ruling on the 130-pound bout in which Westminster's Jim Reiter had pinned Mike Holler.
Competitors are allowed to wrestle in the weight class they weigh in at, as well as the following one. Reiter weighed in at 119.8 pounds, presumably making him eligible to wrestle at the 125- and 130-pound classes. But a two-pound allowance added on Jan. 15 to each weight classification raised a question of whether he should have been limited to entering at 119- or 125-pounds, not 130.
Eastern Tech coach Joe Gast brought the matter to the attention of referees at the time of the 130-pound match, but all agreed Reiter was eligible.
After a tournament adviser called George McKelvie, the state's supervisor of officials, the referees reversed the decision and ruled Reiter ineligible, thus disqualifying him. And thus, the Owls' 39-6 lead became 33-12.
"That's like something happening in a World Series in the third inning and changing it in the seventh," said Westminster coach Henry Mohlhenrich. "Whether we were right or not, you can't change it."
The ruling gave Eastern Tech (13-2) new life, and the Mustangs nearly made the most of it.
Hector Santana pinned Mike Wilhelm at 160 -- Westminster 33, Eastern Tech 18. Julius Frank followed with a pin of Jared Brown at 171, trimming the lead to 33-24.
And then Eastern's Jamie Blankenship pulled a major upset with a 14-10 decision over the state's No. 1 ranked 189-pounder, Ray Henry. The win pulled Eastern Tech within six points, but actually clinched the match for Westminster, which had an insurmountable number of bouts won.
Pub Date: 2/13/97