At Saturday night's Northern Region Wrestling Tournament, Roger Baxter of Marshall called it the most important win of his career. It came on perhaps the most disappointing night of his wrestling life.

After Baxter (25-0) pinned Robinson's Stacy Gruber (20-2) to give the Statesmen a 134-127 lead, he sat back and watched two Robinson wrestlers, Rob Patten (23-0) and Chris Ellison (18-0), snatch the title away from Marshall, 135-134.

What was to be Marshall's first region title suddenly became Robinson's tenth Northern Region championship. Making the loss more devastating was the loss of two placement points taken from Marshall earlier in the day when 185-pound Joe Swarm had car trouble and was unable to make his consolation match.

The top four finishers advance to the state tournament which begins tomorrow in Richmond at 12 p.m.

Marshall led, 110-109, after Friday night's semifinals but found themselves trailing, 127-124, after Saturday's consolations.

The first disappointment for Marshall came quickly Saturday night when Wakefield's Wilbur Salas (24-0) defended his 1987 regional title with a 12-4 decision over David Mule of Marshall in the 98-pound match.

Cuong Do (27-1) quickly reversed the scoreboard, as well as the Statesmen's spirits, with a 9-3 win over John Kim of Edison (18-5-2) to capture the 105-pound title and put Marshall on top in the team standings, 128-124.

At 126, Baxter and Gruber met. A Robinson win would clinch the title for the Rams, but instead, Baxter got the pin to extend Marshall's lead and put the pressure on the last two Robinson wrestlers.

In a rematch of the Northern District championship match, Patten faced Brook Leonard (22-2-1) of W.T. Woodson. Patten had been spectacular throughout the tournament, pinning his first three opponents in 2:49, 0:10 and 0:43, respectively. Though he was unable to pin Leonard, he gained a 5-2 decision to keep the Rams' championship hopes alive.

Ellison faced Jay Troxell (22-1) at 167 in a matchup of unbeaten district champions. The lead changed hands three times and with Ellison ahead, 8-7, Troxell was in a potential scoring position but time ran out on Troxell and the Marshall dreams as Ellison took the 8-7 decision giving Robinson the title.

Craig Phipps (see profile) of Jefferson was selected the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament, after winning the 119-pound championship.

In other final matches, at 112 Narin Sihavong of Stuart ran his record to 23-1 with a championship win over Sergio Loza (19-2) of Lake Braddock, 18-9.

John Watson (25-0) of Hayfield, a runnerup at 126 last year, won the 132-pound title with a 6-1 victory over West Springfield's Eddie Mahoney (18-2).

David Wilderman (25-0) of West Springfield and Steve Platt (25-0) of McLean won titles to remain unbeaten. Wilderman defeated Madison's John Levtov (21-3-1) at 138. At 145, Platt overcame Nat Wood (17-2-2) of South Lakes.

Great Falls District 176-pound champion, Chris Maynor (27-0) of Langley beat Johnny Curtis of Fairfax (27-2) and Jack Vick (20-1-1) of Chantilly defeated Trent Bowers (21-2-1) of W.T. Woodson at 185.

In the heavyweight match, Greg Redden (27-1) of Edison defeated Steve Crouch (18-3) of Chantilly.