So just what did it take for Old Mill to successfully defend its Anne Arundel County wrestling championship last night, this time by the slightest margin possible - a half-point - over runner-up Arundel?
There was the typical depth, with 10 Patriots finishing fourth or better, an expected title from senior Doug West and then some late help from wrestlers new and old.
After Old Mill first-year varsity wrestler Ed Roderick came away with a 7-6 decision over Arundel's Josh Hayghe in the 152-pound-class final that featured a roller-coaster third period, the team title came down to the 189-pound championship bout in which North County senior John Hostler scored a late takedown to edge Arundel's Brad Pendock.
As it turned out, in winning his first county crown, Hostler also was helping out his former coach. Old Mill coach Jim Grim was an assistant coach at North County in Hostler's freshman year.
Yesterday left Grim at a loss for words at first, but then he found some familiar ones.
"I'm just very proud tonight. You want to talk about the ultimate team effort, it was today," he said. "We had 13 kids here today and 10 placed in the top four and others took fifth. The wrestle-backs won it for us."
While the team competition provided the tournament's suspense - No. 8 Old Mill finishing with 194 points, with No. 9 Arundel at 193.5 and Chesapeake a distant third at 159.5 - much of the individual competition followed form. Most notable was the performance of Chesapeake 119-pounder Corey Bowers, who earned a 15-7 decision over South River's Andrew Mulry to become the county's fourth four-time champion.
Bowers (27-0) joined former Chesapeake standout Jeff Eveleth and the legendary Kusick brothers from Northeast - Marty and Mike - as the only county wrestlers to accomplish the feat. But Bowers said he won't be satisfied until he wins a state title.
"I practiced so hard all week, I think I may have overdid it a little bit," said Bowers. "I felt bad out there. Maybe it was the long wait. It just didn't feel like me. It would have been a lot better if I wrestled a better match, but I'm really proud of the accomplishment."
Eight returning county champs reached yesterday finals and seven were able to repeat. Besides Bowers, they were West (130), Arundel's Justin Bowser (30-1 at 112), the Annapolis pair of Ben Graham (24-1 at 140) and Andrew Smith (24-0 at 145), Chesapeake's Jake Couch (24-7 at 171) and Broadneck's Tyler Moyer (24-2) all repeated.
The two pivotal matches as Old Mill attempted to win its 13th county title also were the two tightest.
With the Patriots holding on to the half-point lead going into the deciding bout, Hostler found new supporters and the Old Mill contingent packed in the left corner of the gym found a new favorite wrestler.
Hostler and Pendock were tied at 1 going into the final minute, when Hostler scored the bout's first takedown with 28 seconds left. Pendock got one point back with an escape, but Hostler was able to slip out of a potential takedown in the final seconds to earn the win. After the match, he received an ovation from the Old Mill fans.
"It was a hard-fought match," said Hostler. "I was just waiting for him to slip up and I capitalized and that was basically it. I was focused on my match, but I knew Old Mill was a half-point ahead and it came down to the match so I went out and did my part and brought home a county title for my school.
"Coach Grim did coach me my freshman year, so i also kind of did that for him."
At 152, Hayghe had a 4-1 lead in the second period before Roderick rallied.