A year ago, River Hill's Alex Proia was attending Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia and missed out on the Hawks' first dual-meet state wrestling championship.
So the 130-pound junior had extra incentive in the decisive final bout of yesterday's Class 4A-3A North region championship match against unbeaten and sixth-ranked North Carroll.
He won and gave host River Hill a 36-29 victory for its third regional title in five years. North Carroll dropped to 14-1 while the Hawks improved to 19-0, winning their 30th consecutive dual meet and 40th straight against Maryland teams.
The No. 7-ranked Hawks led by four points going into that final match after the Panthers rallied behind Tyler Macleod's 5:26 pin at 126 pounds and Zach Forbes' 8-2 decision at 119.
All the Panthers needed to tie was a major decision by Dan Keller, who had pinned Proia in the Arundel Tournament.
In a wild, see-saw match, however, Proia overcame a 4-2 first-period deficit to win, 14-13.
"I used all my energy," said Proia (20-6), who had the flu and missed practice Tuesday. "It was nerve-wracking. I told myself to focus and whatever happens, happens. It was awesome hearing the crowd cheering my name. It's never been like that before."
North Carroll coach Dave Dodson said, "I give that kid credit because we pinned him at Arundel. My kids wrestled well against a good River Hill team and took it to the limit."
River Hill coach Earl Lauer thought the key to the match was Kenny Nwandu's pin over Bobby Dell at heavyweight.
"Dell is a good wrestler," Lauer said.
Lauer also thought that bumping Thomas Perkins and Ryan Dieter up one weight class achieved better matchups and resulted in victories at 189 and 215 pounds, respectively.
Perkins pinned Jeff Merrill in 48 seconds and Dieter decisioned Josh Turner, 9-4.
'They weren't ready for Perkins and Dieter," Lauer said. "We bumped away from Rob Pearre. David Adams got us off to a good start by winning the first match at 135 pounds over Trevor Reese, whom they had dropped down."