With more on the line this time at Old Mill, the wrestling pendulum swung to the Chesapeake side last night.
It was the No. 7 Cougars who came with a healthy lineup; it was their turn to win the close decisions and - finally - their turn to stake claim to the Class 4A-3A East regional dual-meet crown that has alluded them in past years.
With their 33-20 win over the No. 9 Patriots, the Cougars will get the chance to represent the East region at the dual-meet state tournament Saturday at Catoctin High in Frederick County. The victory also made amends for their 29-24 loss to Old Mill on Monday, which gave the Patriots their sixth consecutive dual-meet county championship.
"[Last night] was like, 'This is it - we win or we're done,' " said Chesapeake 130-pounder Steve Yaruta, who came away with a 3-0 decision to avenge Monday's loss to Old Mill's Josh Baynham. "We came out with a lot more intensity. There was no way I was going to lose - I just wrestled as hard as I could and kept the pressure on him."
Yaruta's win was just one of a number of individual battles that turned to Chesapeake's favor.
At 112, Steve Gelety earned a 5-3 decision over Tim Lobuglio, who had come away with the decision that clinched Monday's match. The Cougars' 145-pounder, Chris Grove, was out with the flu on Monday, but was well enough last night to provide three more points with a tough 2-0 decision over Sam Nasser.
The Chesapeake crowd then counted down the final seconds of Jake Couch's 8-1 decision over Aaron Waddell at 171 that clinched the region crown.
"They out-wrestled us tonight. They were on - very good," said Old Mill coach Jim Grim. "They won the close matches - Gelety, Yaruta and Jake Couch stepped up, and having Grove back was big. I give them a lot of credit and I hope they can win states."
In the semifinals earlier yesterday, the Cougars made quick work of No. 13 Arundel with a 43-26 win that featured pins from 119-pounder Corey Bowers, Yaruta and Grove. The Cougars also clinched that match with a decision by Couch at 171.
Old Mill had a much tougher time against No. 10 Severna Park in its semifinal, coming from behind for a 34-26 win.
The Patriots' 171-pounder, Alex Green, scored a big 11-7 decision over Walker Babington to help the cause, and then - with the Patriots leading 31-26 and the heavyweights up - William Bell fought off Brian Payer for a 7-5 decision.