Old Mill 125-pound junior Doug West fittingly summed up the quality performance the Patriots displayed in capturing yesterday's Anne Arundel County Tournament at South River.
They were words quick and to the point.
"We came in focused, ready to go - tournament wrestling - whatever it takes to get to the next round," he said.
West, who improved to 31-3, claimed his first county title with a come-from-behind 4-3 decision over runner-up Steve Yaruta of Chesapeake. That victory also clinched the team title for the Patriots, who defeated runner-up Chesapeake by a 198.5-169.5 margin. Arundel, which got individual titles from 103-pounder Justin Bowser and 189-pounder Justin Tippett, finished third with 146.5 points.
For the Patriots, it was a top-to-bottom performance that also featured titles from 130-pounder Josh Baynham and heavyweight William Bell.
"It's not just who gets to the finals, but also who can come back and take third and who can come back and take fifth," said Old Mill coach Jim Grim. "We brought 12 varsity wrestlers and all placed fifth or better. It was a total team effort."
Chesapeake had two individual champs with Corey Bowers claiming his third county crown with a 19-3 technical fall over Severna Park's Nick Esienbeiser at 119, and 171-pounder Jake Couch grinding out a 6-4 overtime decision against North County's John Hostler.
"The key to the match was heart and determination. It was gut-check time," said Couch, who scored a takedown with only his toes staying inbounds as Hostler worked his way out of bounds.
The Cougars didn't have enough of those tight matches go their way, watching Old Mill pile up the points in the consolation rounds.
"It was a rough day," said Chesapeake coach Rex Miller. "I don't like to go into a tournament or a match without a practice - we just don't wrestle well. But that's no excuse because everybody was in the same boat."
A number of the top wrestlers were out before the tournament got started as a result of academic ineligibility with report cards filed on Feb. 14.
Glen Burnie heavyweight Justin Neal, Annapolis 160-pounder Eric Lawrence, and Chesapeake's Chris Grove (145) and Pat McLanigan (215) were all declared ineligible because of grades.
Going into Thursday's meeting to seed the wrestlers, Neal was believed to be eligible and earned the top seed, but Glen Burnie coach Corey Fowler learned on Friday that his standout would not be able to wrestle.
"Ultimately he's ineligible," Fowler said. "You got a kid everyone expected to do very well [yesterday], but unfortunately he didn't get in the lineup. There's nothing more to be said."
Three wrestlers - South River's Andrew Mulry, and Annapolis' Ben Graham and Andrew Smith - went into the day undefeated. They left that way with county titles.
Mulry improved to 28-0 with a 11-5 decision over Northeast's Geoff Clark-Ames; Graham (26-0) got a decision over Old Mill's Jude Ayanleye at 135; and teammate Smith (25-0) came right back at 140 with a second-period pin of Chesapeake's Evan Jones.
After second-place finishes as a freshman and sophomore, Graham was pleased with working his way to the top of the podium.
"It was a good day getting ready for states because that's what really matters the most to me. My big goal is to win state, so this is just part of the way," he said.
Severna Park, which finished fourth with 138 points, had individual titles come from Steve Smith at 145 and Walker Babington at 160. Other county champs were Northeast's Chris Dyke at 152 and Broadneck's Tyler Moyer, who nipped Northeast's Joe Fold, 9-8, in the 215-pound final.