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Lions' run at Mills not run of mill

February 15, 2004|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

COLUMBIA, Md. - The Owings Mills wrestling team is like a cross between Goldie Locks and the Big Bad Wolf.

The Golden Eagles, all sporting bleached-blonde mops of hair, added another chapter to their fairy-tale run Saturday night at Hammond High School, topping Walkersville 40-31 for their third straight Maryland Class 2A-1A state duals title and 47th straight win.

But they didn't have it easy against the Lions (16-2), who were making their first appearance in the state finals.

"This is further than any other Walkersville team has ever made it," Lions 135-pounder Chad Cotterman said. "We're definitely psyched to be here, but we wanted to win it.

"We were ready and we wrestled good. But a couple of different things could have gone our way."

Owings Mills (18-0) didn't have the title secured until Rob Cooper, a defending state champ, pinned Walkersville's Chris Ramsburg in the final bout of the match at 119 pounds.

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"If you had to pick a guy for it to come down to, that's the guy you want," Owings Mills coach Guy Pritzker said. "You want that last-inning home run, and that's what Cooper hit."

Both teams rolled through their semifinal matches earlier in the day. Walkersville crushed Kent County 57-10, while Owings Mills toppled Glenelg 51-15. It was all the makings for a powerhouse final.

"I didn't think we were going to win, to be very honest," Pritzker said. "I watched them against Kent, looked at the matchups and thought it would, 35-35."

It was 12-0 Owings Mills in the blink of an eye as Eric Vinores (125) and Ryan Nash (130) opened the match with quick pins for the Eagles.

At 135, though, Cotterman let both sides know it was going to be a fight, building a 15-4 lead on Jon Demchick before pinning him in 4:48.

"I was definitely fired up," Cotterman said. "I came out there and I was ready to go."

After Alex Binder decked Walkersville's Mike Smith in 1:46 at 140, Mike Kessler made it 21-6 Eagles in a potential state-finals preview with Dan Caywood at 145.

"That was the two best guys in the state," Pritzker said. "That was a big match."

With the bout tied 3-3 after a scoreless overtime period, Kessler, ranked No. 1 in 2A-1A, rode out second-ranked Caywood for the win.

"I gave it my all. I left everything on the mat," Caywood said. "I made him go through hell to beat me. ... It won't be the last time I see Kessler in a matchup. I'm sure of that."

Ben Gould and Danny Neel stole the momentum back for the Lions with a second-period pin at 152 and an 11-3 major decision at 160 to cut the deficit to 21-16.

Four bouts later, the Lions, who got a 3-2 decision from Billy Burke at 215, trailed 34-19, but were still alive with three bouts left.

Gleason Sweeney gave Walkersville a big shot of oxygen with a quick pin at 103, and Luke Milyard put them one win - or more like one miracle - away from the upset with his second-period pin at 112, cutting the Eagles' lead to 34-31.

"Lots of pressure," Milyard said. "I knew if I didn't win, it'd be over."

But state champs are state champs for a reason, and Cooper needed just 27 seconds to end the suspense.

"Owings Mills is a heck of a team," Walkersville coach Scott McIntosh said. "To be second best is still pretty darn good. This is the best team in Walkersville history, officially.

"I'm very, very proud to be a part of this team and a part of this wrestling community."

In the semifinals, Walkersville trailed Kent County 10-0 after two bouts, before running the table. Derek Hubbard (215) and Burke (275) had pins for the Lions, while Cotterman (135) scored a tech fall and Smith (140), Gould (152), Neel (160) and Jimmy Francis (171) had major decisions.

In the 4A-3A final Saturday, Calvert topped River Hill, 38-28.

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