Injuries and other problems have hampered No. 10 South Carroll in recent weeks. The short-handed Cavaliers were again left with too many holes to fill last night, and visiting Walkersville pulled off a 28-27 victory in the first round of the Class 2A-1A West region duals meet.
Fourth-seeded Walkersville had suffered a 32-28 loss to top-seeded South Carroll earlier this month -- the team's lone loss of the season -- but the Lions pulled out this victory with a dramatic pin in the final match.
The Cavaliers held a 27-22 lead heading into the 215-pound match, but Billy Burke pinned South Carroll's Rob Etzler at 1:48 to pull out the victory.
Walkersville then went on to win the championship with a 42-31 victory over third-seeded Southern-Garrett. In the other first-round match, Southern-Garrett rolled to a 43-20 victory over second-seeded Beall.
South Carroll coach Dennis Frazier faced a tough decision heading into the decisive match. He had no one else other than Etzler, who hadn't wrestled since suffering a torn rib cartilage in the Walkersville match on Feb. 2.
The doctors cleared Etzler to compete, and the Cavaliers would have been forced to forfeit at 215 and lose the entire match if he couldn't go. But Etzler tried, and Burke pinned him in the first period.
"He gave it a shot, and he did his best," Frazier said. "I left it up to him, but it was the only possibility."
South Carroll (13-2) also had been hoping for at least one pin from top wrestlers Drew Winfield (171) or Tim Ferguson (189). But while both came away with victories, the wins were just by decisions with Winfield pulling out a 4-0 win over Jimmy Francis and Ferguson (7-2) defeating Igor Chudinov.
A pin or technical fall in either match would have clinched the win before the 215-pound match.
The Cavaliers now are pointing toward defending their Carroll County tournament title next Saturday at North Carroll. They've got to shake off the surprising first-round loss and try to bounce back.
"We just have to forget about it and move on," Ferguson said. "It's a lot harder because it was at home."