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Congrats for the congrats

OPINION -

March 05, 2002|BY AL DITZEL

During this past weekend's Maryland State Wrestling championships at Western Maryland College, many positive things happened.

We had two wrestlers in the finals, area wrestlers went 6-for-6 in winning third-place matches and the shuttle from the parking lot to the school and vice versa ran pretty well.

The one that gave me most satisfaction was when Williamsport's Matt Allen was putting on his warmups after winning the Class 1A/2A 189-pound state title, North Hagerstown's Dustin McDonough walked up to his and they slapped handshakes.

Understand this, McDonough had just lost his bid to win the 152 title. He was not a happy camper. This North wrestler took time out from his personal grief to make sure that a Williamsport wrestler got some deserved congratulations.

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This does not happen enough.

To say that North and Williamsport are bitter rivals is an understatement. It would be like saying it's only Anna Kournikova's looks that get her attention rather than her ability to play tennis (so far, she's 0-for-her-career in tournament victories while making the most endorsement money).

I don't know if Allen and McDonough are friends off the mat or not, but I was glad to see this sign of respect.

North coach Greg Slick has said that, despite the rivalry and smack talk, these two wrestling schools have respect for each other.

You wouldn't be able to tell on the All-Maryland Wrestling Forum, but here it is: absolute evidence that there is respect. During the day, I spoke with a couple of people and an avid Williamsport supporter said he'd love to see every area wrestler win his final match at states.

That included North. You see, this is another sign of respect.

I can only hope that, in the future, the example set by McDonough and accepted by Allen will continue.

- Two weeks ago, during the 1A/2A West Region tournament at Fort Hill, a referee took me aside to talk to me about comments I made in a column two weeks ago.

He did not appreciate my comparing referees' different interpretations of the rules to the now-infamous French judge in the Olympic ice skating debacle.

This referee is right. I should not have compared all referees to this French judge.

To be fair, in about 99 percent of the events I've seen over the three years here in Maryland, referees have been more than consistent in their rulings. Not all fans or coaches will agree with me, but that's my opinion.

Before I made my comments, I should've heeded my own long-time opinion of those who criticize wrestling referees: If you can do a better job, then do it.

- The Haswell M. Franklin Senior All-Star Meet, also known as the Maryland High School Wrestling Classic, goes off tonite at 6:30 at River Hill High School.

The highest-placing seniors in Class 1A/2A, 3A/4A and Private Schools are scheduled to meet. For information, contact Paul Joyce at 410-544-0900 ext. 230. Tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for students.

Al Ditzel is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every two weeks. He can be reached at alfredd@herald-mail.com or 301-733-5131 ext. 7520.

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