North Carroll was the dominant team in Carroll County wrestling for several years. Coach Dick Bauerlein's Panthers used solid depth to capture eight straight county tournament titles from 1986 through 1994.
The Panthers then fell off a little after that, and Westminster and South Carroll ruled for a while. But No. 7 North Carroll has rebounded and last night captured its second county tournament title in three years with an impressive victory in Hampstead.
North Carroll removed most of the suspense by placing eight wrestlers in the finals and having all but clinched the team title before the championship round began. Coach David Dodson's team, which went undefeated in the county to win the regular-season crown, simply had too much depth for the other schools.
The Panthers finished with 200 points, easily defeating No. 10 South Carroll (171). Westminster (118) edged out Francis Scott Key (117.5) and Century (117) in the logjam at third place.
North Carroll finished with five individual champions. Tyler MacLeod (125 pounds, 27-4), Dan Keller (130, 23-8), Tim Hutchins (135, 26-2), Seth Knights (145, 26-4) and Sam Shreck (160, 26-6) each won their title matches and helped proved Dodson's mantra of how the success of the individual and team go together.
"When the team does well, the individual does well," Dodson said. "It's 14 guys wrestling, 14 guys contributing. It's always for the team."
Shreck had the toughest victory, rallying from a 4-1 deficit to score a 5-4 decision over Westminster's Joe Dell. Shreck took the lead in the third period but then had to hang on as an aggressive Dell tried to rally.
Zach Forbes (112), Trevor Reese (140) and Robbie Pearre (171) also made the finals for the Panthers. Forbes and Pearre both won last year but couldn't repeat while Reese made his first trip to the finals.
Hutchins was one of the repeat champions and scored an impressive 14-1 win over Liberty's Crit Jennings. The junior said that the Panthers don't put a lot of pressure on themselves and simply try to do their best.
"We just go out there and try our hardest and whatever happens, happens," Hutchins said. "We just practice and have fun, and we've been doing very well."
The Panthers unseated defending champion South Carroll for the tournament and regular season titles. The Cavaliers had some holes in their lineup for various reasons, something that North Carroll was able to avoid this season.
"They've got 14 wrestlers, and they're good," South Carroll coach Dennis Frazier said. "They've got some nice wrestlers."
Francis Scott Key coach Bill Hyson enjoyed watching Dodson win a second county title a bit more than some other coaches. The reason: Dodson wrestled for and coached with Hyson, who's proud of his success at North Carroll.
"David's a good person, and it's all coming together now for him," Hyson said. "I'm happy for him."
The championship round match at 171 between Pearre and Drew Winfield of South Carroll was one of the night's most anticipated. Pearre surprised Winfield in last year's county tournament final, but the South Carroll wrestler got some revenge with an impressive 10-0 victory.
Winfield controlled the match from the beginning, taking an early lead and pulling away to improve his record to 21-0 on the season.
Overall, nine champions from last year's county meet made it back to the finals and five won again. In addition to Hutchins, Westminster's Justin Hughes (119, 26-4), Liberty's Chris DeVilbiss (152, 28-0), Tim Ferguson of South Carroll (189, 18-1) plus Francis Scott Key heavyweight Ralph Stambaugh (18-2) all repeated as champions.
Mike Willingham (140, 13-2) and Tim Ferguson (189, 18-1) of South Carroll also won championships for the Cavaliers. Francis Scott Key's Reuben Gill (112, 20-0), joined Stambaugh as the Eagles' other individual champ.