Three months ago on Dec. 8, the Reservoir wrestling team lost its dual-meet match to eventual Howard County champion Glenelg. Afterward, the team committed itself to getting better. And the No. 5 Gators demonstrated just how strong that commitment was, first by winning the state dual-meet title last month, and then this weekend, when they won the 3A-4A state championship, virtually clinching the title before the final round began.
"I knew we could bounce back from that Glenelg loss," said Reservoir's Mark Colabucci, who competed a 44-0 season by winning the 145-pound title, his first, 5-3. "But I didn't think we'd go this far. Then we pulled the dual-meet championship out ... and I knew we were solid."
Reservoir beat La Plata, 106-80, for its first crown in the nine-year history of the school, while Southern-Garrett repeated as the 1A-2A champion, beating No. 2 Glenelg, 135.50-104.
While the drama might have been missing from the team race, it was certainly present in the individual bouts.
The match that had the most drama was the 140-pound meeting between Old Mill junior Ron Vaughters and La Plata junior Nick Romero. In an extremely physical match, Romero got the worst of it. With 13 seconds left and Vaughters holding tightly to his leg, Romero jumped high into Vaughters' upper body. Vaughters countered with a swift turn and slammed Romero to the mat, where he stayed for a long time.
The official called Vaughters for an illegal move, which meant that if Romero couldn't continue, Vaughters would lose. While Romero laid in pain with the La Plata trainer at his side, Vaughters was in obvious distress -- holding his head between his hands, tears brimming, beside himself. If Romero could not continue, Vaughters would lose his second consecutive title.
Wobbly on his feet, Romero chose to answer the call and basically hugged Vaughters for the final seconds, allowing the Old Mill wrestler to win.
"I told him he had done a great job and I thanked him 20,000 times," said Vaughters after winning, 8-3. "It was very scary. I'm still scared. I'm not happy yet. I didn't feel I'd slammed him, and I've been working so hard to get three state championships before I graduate. I don't want to let anyone down.
"I respect him very much for getting up like a man and trying."
La Plata coach Todd Sharp said Romero has a lot of character. "The trainer didn't want him to continue, but Nick told me he didn't want to win that way. It's the second time this has happened to him. The kid is just classy."
Southern-Garrett's Brutus Scheffel won his 152-pound match, 10-3, and became only the fourth four-time state champ joining Aberdeen's Matt Slutzky, Owings Mills' Steve Kessler and Hereford's Josh Asper.
Urbana's Adam Krop beat Arundel's Tyler Goodwin, 4-3, in the 125 pound 3A-4A match to win his third state title. Goodwin's brother, Frank, won the 130-pound crown. The Goodwin twins transferred from Mount St. Joseph this season and were wrestling in the public school state tournament for the first time.
Hereford senior Taylor Gload pinned Reservoir's Josh Hamilton with 49 seconds left in the second period.
"You don't realize what he did," Hereford coach Ron Causey said. "We haven't had a heavyweight in two years and Taylor has wrestled there, giving away [88 pounds]. He's wrestled 48 matches at 285 and gone 42-0 along the way. He's quick and strong, has experience and knows all about leverage."
North County's Pat Downey (171, 6-4 decision), Centennial's Nathan Kraisser (112, 14-1 major decision), won for the second time, as did Southern-Garrett's Lex Ozias (140, 7-3), Tony Frace (112, 5-3, OT) and North Carroll's Mason Goretsas (130, 6-1) in 1A-2A competition.