That rumble shaking the gym at Owings Mills last night was more than Overlea's wrestling team jumping in excitement.
It also was a monumental changing of the guard in the Class 1A-2A North region.
No longer can 13th-ranked Overlea be labeled as over-achievers, not after the Falcons (10-3) defeated No. 5 Franklin, 34-31, for their first dual-meet region championship.
Overlea earned the right to compete for the state dual-meet title Saturday at Damascus and advanced to yesterday's finals by knocking off five-time defending champion Owings Mills, 33-22, in the semifinals.
"I thought we would have a letdown after beating Owings Mills, but the guys came back and wrestled very well," said Overlea coach Bruce Malinowski.
The difference didn't develop until the end. The Falcons were behind, 31-28, entering the heavyweight bout, and Malinowski wasn't sure what to expect from Mike Banks, his 205-pounder.
But Banks quickly took control of his bout and then at 1: 45, pinned Franklin's Phillip Alexander.
"Coach Malinowski told me before the bout not to look for a pin, because all we needed were three points to win," said Banks. "I thought the match would go the distance, but I just went out there and did my job."
Justin Mitchell put Overlea in position to win with a stirring decision (3-1) over John Schuster at 189 pounds that pulled the Falcons within 31-28.
Overlea also got a pivotal victory from Abidemi Kassim at 160 pounds that kept the Falcons within three points.
"I just beat Joe [Landsman] at Franklin earlier in the year, and this time I just wrestled a little smarter and [more] aggressive," Kassim said. "Earlier in the season, we lost to Franklin mostly because of injuries. But this time we came with a full load."
Said Malinowski, "I thought Kassim had the key match. It was nip and tuck the whole way, but he managed to win it."
Things started well for Franklin, as pins by Matt Schuster (103 pounds) and Stan Wagner (112) helped the Indians to a 16-0 lead. But Overlea battled back with three consecutive victories to tie the match at 16.
"Overlea matched up very well with us, and that's what concerned me," said Franklin coach Scott Delpo. "We kept moving kids around just to get the right matchups."
In the semifinals, Overlea broke from its close match with Owings Mills by winning three of the five middle weight classes, including a victory by Anthony Wilder (135), who hadn't wrestled all year.
The Indians had a tougher time with Harford Tech, having to sweep the final six matches to win 22-18.
Pub Date: 2/11/99