Currently viewing the tag: "March Madness"

with Michael Betteridge

March is always depicted as such an angry month. After all, March is actually named after the god of war: Mars. This came from the Roman calendar, and modern historians know that because their military campaigns began in March. The original pre-Julian calendar didn’t even bother to name the winter months. They were treated as throwaways. At the conclusion of the unnamed months, a named month was needed to reflect the transition from winter to preparing to go to war. March was originally the first month of the year. 

Modern society follows the spirit of the ancient traditions. We have March Madness and references to March being a “Lion” and “mad as a March Hare” and “beware the Ides of March.” It is even tempting to look at the actual meaning of the word for this month as a command to action…March! The central theme being: March madness is really a part of human DNA.

Has March gotten a bad rap? I don’t think so. It can snow 10 inches in one week, and then be sunny and in the 60s the next week. That happened just five years ago. On March 8, 2019, the daytime high was 37 degrees and it was snowing. On March 11, the daytime high was 61 and it was sunny.  March can bring raging wind, sleet, and ice, as well as warm sunshine, budding flowers, and birds chirping, all in the same month, even days apart.

We mark March as a time of transition: “In like a lion and out like a lamb.” We transition our clocks to daylight savings time in March.  March symbolizes the shedding of old habits and a path for new beginnings.  Just as the Earth shakes off the shackles of winter madness, we are encouraged to embrace the sanity of spring.

Sports have always been a great metaphor for life. Who would ever come up with the term: “May Madness”? It just doesn’t work. 

The term “March Madness” is not new. It is 85 years old. The term originated in 1939, when high school teacher Henry Porter referred in a sports column to an eight-game high school playoff basketball tournament by saying the following: “A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.” That’s right! March Madness started in high school basketball! It wasn’t until 1982 that famed CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger claimed he borrowed the term from an automobile commercial while broadcasting a high school basketball game.

Musburger brought the term over to college ball when he went to work for CBS, and it stuck. Can you imagine Brent Musburger sitting in the Catoctin gym, broadcasting Cougars basketball on WTHU? Well, that’s where Musburger got his start, in a high school gym in Illinois.  Who knows? Maybe you could be watching the next Musburger at Catoctin 10 to 20 years from now. For certain, not yours truly, but have you listened to our newest WTHU sports announcer Ryan Piers? He is “future star” good!

March Madness is now everywhere, especially here in our area. The governing state body for high school athletics, the MPSSAA, expanded girls’ and boys’ high school basketball to include all schools, big and small, regardless of their season record. They created an “NCAA” bracket of schools in the 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A divisions. That means 388 boys’ and girls’ high school basketball teams will compete in our own March Madness, which will end with 16 teams playing at the Xfinity Center on the campus of the University of Maryland on March 15 and 16 for a state championship!

For your own little bracket pool, let me help you with a little advance forecast of who to watch in the tournament. In the 4A Boys, Frederick, Urbana, and TJ are at the top. In the Girls 4A, the Frederick lady Cadets are back! In the Girls 3A, Oakdale and Linganore are the teams to watch. The Boys 3A are struggling with Oakdale right around .500. The 2A Boys team to watch is the Walkersville Lions. Coach Mathis has them primed and ready to make another run to College Park. Don’t forget about the Middletown boys and their incredible undefeated run through midseason. Speaking of Middletown, watch out for the Lady Knights in the tournament and keep an eye on Williamsport. They love to play the spoiler. Coach Murphy always surprises.

And, now, our own bracket of madness: the 1A Boys and Girls Basketball tournament is always a nail-biter.

Once again, Coach Amy has our Lady Cougars poised at the top. This will not be an easy postseason for the Lady Cougars, who will almost certainly have to work their way through Smithsburg, Mountainridge, and Southern to make it back to College Park.

The boys have it easy.  No pressure. They are sitting toward the bottom of their bracket, and any postseason victories the team and Coach Zach can secure will be a win for the program. They are much improved this year.

No matter what your opinions on March, there is always one thing you can count on: madness. And, don’t forget, the softball and baseball seasons begin in March. I hope I have convinced you. March deserves every depiction it receives, good and bad. 

Hang in there. It’s all about the ride.

Aaron Meekins

CYA (Catoctin Youth Association) Wrestling’s March Madness began with the Mid Maryland Wrestling League (MMWL) Championships, held at Urbana High School on March 5. Here, teams from Washington, Frederick, and Carroll counties sent their best wrestlers to compete for mat supremacy in a double elimination or round-robin format, depending on the number of grapplers signed in for each weight class. The parking lot and gym overflowed with wrestlers, coaches, and spectators.

Out of the madness, a number of CYA wrestlers were able to reach the podium and bring home a coveted 2023 purple and gold trophy. Eighth-grader Ashton Thompson led the way, securing the only first-place trophy of the day for CYA in his weight class. Fellow eighth graders, Beau Andrew and Shane Smith, both brought home first-place trophies in their respective weight classes. These wrestlers will take their talents to high school next year following a successful season on the youth wrestling circuit.

Other CYA wrestlers also got the chance to climb the podium. Seventh-grader Shawn Smith fought hard and earned a fourth-place trophy, as did sixth-grader Carter Reaver, who also earned a fourth-place finish. Third-grader Xavier Meekins reached the finals in his division, earning a runner-up second-place trophy. Fellow third graders, Julian Thompson and Liam Jenkins, also placed in their weight classes, with third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively. Many other CYA wrestlers put up a valiant fight in their divisions and put in some tough matches, but came up a bit short of reaching the podium.

The following weekend, seven CYA wrestlers made the three-hour trek across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to wrestle at the Maryland State Wrestling Association’s (MSWA) Youth State Championship Tournament on Saturday, March 11, followed by the Future Champions Series and MSWA Regional All-Star Duals on Sunday March 12 at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury.

At Saturday’s event, Ashton Thompson again showed that he is a top wrestler in the state, making the final four in his division and finishing with a fifth-place trophy. Gracen Baer won two matches, and Xavier Meekins won one match in the pair’s first showing in state-level competition.

At Sunday’s Future Champions Series, seventh-grader Hunter Byington, one of CYA’s wrestling leaders, earned a first-place finish in the 14U division. Following Hunter’s lead, third-grader Aaron Oden (in his first-year wrestling) and Jackson Wivell also ended the day with first-place finishes: Aaron in his 10U division and Jackson in his 8U division. Fellow third-grader, Maddox Miller, also put in a valiant effort against stiff competition, bringing home a fourth-place trophy.

Sunday’s events also featured the MSWA Regional All-Star dual that saw different regions of Maryland face off in a team event. Representing the West Region at 56 pounds, Xavier Meekins faced stiff competition from the South, Central, North, and East regions. He ended his weekend by earning a win by fall versus the East Region’s representative.

This year’s wrestling season brought an end to Cory Bell’s 14 years leading the CYA Wrestling Program. Fourteen years ago, Cory decided to get his oldest son into wrestling. Ever since, Cory has led CYA wrestling on the mats, along with Kristen Bell and Kara Castellow organizing the program behind the scenes. The families of CYA wrestlers past and present truly appreciate their time and efforts over the years. Thank you very much!

If wrestling sounds like something your child may be interested in, please have them come out and give it a try next season. Practices are held three times a week, beginning in mid-late November. There are eight matches prior to the end-of-the-season tournament. It is a great way to learn friendly, albeit physically challenging, competition and to make some friends along the way. We would love to see your child and you out on the mats and help bring more trophies back to Northern Frederick County in 2024!

Pictured from left are Coach Steve Byington, Maddox Miller, Hunter Byington, Aaron Oden, Jayce Oden, Coach Garrett Baer, and Jackson Wivell.

Photo Courtesy of Melody Byington