North Carroll is back on top.
The Panthers were often one of the area's best wrestling programs under longtime coach Dick Bauerlein and then Bryan Wetzel into the early 1990s before South Carroll, Westminster and Francis Scott Key took charge in Carroll County.
But No. 6 North Carroll has rebounded strongly the past two years under coach David Dodson, and the Panthers completed their run to the county championship last night with a 36-28 victory over No. 9 South Carroll.
North Carroll (14-0, 6-0) delighted the packed house by getting clutch wins from Sam Shreck (160 pounds) and Robbie Pearre (171) in the final two matches to hold off visiting South Carroll (13-1, 5-1) and clinch its first regular-season county championship in approximately 10 years. It's also the first undefeated season for the Panthers in about that span. "The kids really earned it," Dodson said. "It was huge, and I'm very proud."
The Panthers rallied from a 12-0 deficit to hand South Carroll its first county loss in two years. Shreck pulled out a 6-1 victory over L.P. Schoonmaker that gave North Carroll a 30-28 lead with one match remaining.
Shreck got a takedown with eight seconds remaining to break a 1-1 tie. He then sealed the victory with three back points seconds later.
"This is huge," Shreck said. "It's all for the team. They worked their hearts out."
Pearre then locked up the win, county title and undefeated season with an impressive pin over Jeff Cumberland.
It took Pearre (23-2) just five seconds for a takedown, and he locked up the pin just 16 seconds into the match, setting off a wild celebration in the gym.
The win also was the team's second big victory in 24 hours, having beaten long-time rival Westminster on Wednesday night.
"It was great, and it was exhilarating," Pearre said. "It's real sweet to beat both South Carroll and Westminster in two straight nights. Everyone contributed tonight - every last one."
Indeed, depth played a big role in North Carroll winning. South Carroll has a few holes in its lineup, and the Cavaliers had to forfeit at heavyweight and move some people to different weight classes.
Still, the Cavaliers took a quick lead when undefeated wrestlers Andrew Winfield (189, 17-0) and Tim Ferguson (215, 12-0) scored first-period pins for the 12-0 edge. But after North Carroll got the forfeit, the Panthers slowly came back.
South Carroll got another pin at 103, this one from Steve Willingham at 4:36 for an 18-6 lead. But North Carroll's Zach Forbes (112) answered with a first-period pin before C.J. Naper (119) got a decision for the Cavaliers, edging Tommy Goretsas, 1-0.
Tyler Macleod (125) gave the Panthers a big win when he handed Mike Horbey his first loss of the season, holding on for a 4-2 victory. Dan Keller (130) and Tim Hutchins (135) then won decisions to pull North Carroll into a 21-21 tie.
Mike Willingham (140) and Tom Wheeler (152) both scored decisions for South Carroll, while North Carroll's Seth Knights (145) got an impressive first-period pin, setting up the final two matches.