"Anytime you lose a guy like that, it hurts," Walkersville first-year coach Scott McIntosh said. "He was a guaranteed 25 wins."
The Lions' loss is obviously Mercersburg's gain.
At 8-0 - with six pins, a tech fall and a major decision - this season, Nielson is the last of the Blue Storm's unbeatens.
"Brad bolsters what is the strength of our lineup," Mercersburg 11th-year coach Rick Hendrickson said. "He is a hard worker, and we have an excellent workout situation for he, Ryan Reid (7-1 at 145), John Shartle (7-1 at 152), Brett Gallaway (7-1 at 171) and Matt Englehart (6-2 at 189).
"Brad has made a good transition into our system, but that was actually pretty easy because he brings an aggressive style, which is similar to our style. He will face some major challenges with our tough schedule in January and February, but he should do well."
Walkersville still should do well without him.
The Lions are ranked fourth in the state in Class 2A-1A with four ranked wrestlers - junior Chad Cotterman (No. 1 at 135), senior Dan Caywood (No. 2 at 145), sophomore Gleason Sweeney (No. 3 at 103) and senior Billy Burke (No. 4 at 215).
"Those are the big names," McIntosh said, "but as we wrestle more, we have other kids who will be recognized."
But the individual recognition for his wrestlers is not really a concern for the new coach.
"We are a team. We're a band of brothers. Wrestling is definitely a team sport," McIntosh said. "We're not out there to see how great one person is. We're out there to see how great we all are together."
n McIntosh replaced Bryan Biehl, last season's Herald-Mail All-Area Coach of the Year.
"Bryan has kids and they're getting to be that age where they're doing stuff, and he wanted to be there for them," said McIntosh, Walkersville's assistant coach the previous three seasons, of Biehl's departure. "He's a real big family guy."
Green Applemen look ripe
Freshman Dustin Haislip, competing in his first prep tourney, became the first Musselman wrestler in 15 years to win a Max Horz Invitational title at Berkeley Springs last weekend.
Haislip (5-0) topped Greensburg Central Catholic's Rudy Chelednik 9-7 for the 103 crown. But his most impressive victory probably came earlier in the bracket, when he knocked off Northern Garrett sophomore Casey Kamp, the defending Maryland Class 2A-1A West champ who's currently ranked No. 1 in the state.
Musselman freshman Billy Barrett, who's 7-1 with six pins at 119, finished third at the tourney.
The area's other champ was Jefferson senior Codie Gustines at 135.
Hedgesville, which finished fourth in the 18-team field, got second-place finishes from Joe Shetler (112), Brad Ammons (171), Derrick Young (189) and Josh Nicholson (215).
Chris Moore (140) was a runner-up for Berkeley Springs.
What's the difference between being 4-0 and 2-2?
Williamsport's likely answer: Junior Mike McGill.
McGill - the state's top-ranked 125-pounder - has been sidelined with a deeply bruised knee as his team has twice come out on the short end of a 39-36 match - first against South Hagerstown and then vs. North Hagerstown.
Williamsport coach Mike Rechtorovic said McGill should be ready to hit the mats by early January.
Just flip a coin
What would have been a tie in previous seasons was a South Hagerstown win over Catoctin Monday night.
Now that matches ending with a tied score in Maryland are broken by criteria, the Rebels and Cougars had to wait and wait ... and wait to find out the ultimate outcome after they ended in a 42-42 deadlock.
The results were so even, the refs had to go to the sixth criteria - most first points scored - to determine a winner.
"It surprised me," South coach Adam Robinson said. "We stood around for a while and then the refs said, 'South Hagerstown wins.'"