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Wildcats' Allen is state champ

March 04, 2002|BY AL DITZEL

Westminster, Md. - Williamsport High School senior Matt Allen has been called a lot of things during his athletic career: hard worker, competitor, leader, as well as other positive statements. As of 7:30 Saturday night, you could add state wrestling champion to that list.

Allen concluded his unbeaten season with a solid 6-3 win over Kent County's Joey Kirwan in the Maryland Class 1A/2A 189-pound final.

"He's worked so hard for this," his mother, Debbie Allen, said.

"I'm still shaking," Allen's father, Greg, said while holding out his right hand.

"He wrestled a near-perfect championship match," Williamsport head coach Chuck Martin said. "He was conservative but did what he needed."

"(Allen) beat Kirwan on his feet and on the mat," Williamsport assistant coach Mike Rechtorovic said. "We expected Matt to win on his feet, but he also won on the mat."

Allen took a 2-0 lead with a takedown with 23 seconds left in the first period.

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"Kirwan worked hard to stop Matt's (double-leg) takedown," Rechtorovic said.

Kirwan scored with an escape in the second period to close the bout to 2-1 heading into the third and final period. Allen reversed positions on Kirwan for two more points for an 4-1 lead. Again Kirwan escaped for one point, setting up a dramatic final.

"You can't take anything away from Joey. He's a great wrestler," Allen (29-0) said. "I made a mistake in letting him up, so I needed one more (takedown)."

The wrestlers jockeyed for position and Kirwan made an attempt at Allen's legs. The Wildcat snapped down on his opponent's neck and spun behind for the two-point takedown with 13 seconds left, sealing the victory.

"That's when I started making my way down," said Greg Allen, who usually sits on the highest seat in the building.

"Yeah, it's starting to sink in," said Matt Allen, smiling.

"We didn't have a very good tournament as a team," Martin said. "This kind of makes up for it."

Allen is Williamsport's 12th state champ and first since 1999.

"This is what he's been working for since the beginning," Debbie Allen said. "And, since he got off to a rough start (this season), this is really nice for him."

Allen was suspended from extracurricular activity 45 days before the season began for an unspecified reason.

"That was the worst thing that has ever happened to me," Allen said. "It killed me to just watch. But, it did make me want to come back even more."

Allen's state title run probably began in the 2001 Hub Cup at North Hagerstown. Allen defeated two highly regarded wrestlers en route to the tournament title.

Despite losing to Southern Garrett's John Hayhurst in the region and state finals last year, Allen showed the wrestling community he would be a force this season.

Yesterday, at 7:30 p.m., he realized his destiny.

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