Who is going to be the landlord of county wrestling's 145-pound division?
Most coaches give the edge to Annapolis' Pat Flynn -- the Maryland State Wrestling Association's top-ranked 145-pounder -- and say the other guys are just paying rent.
Even Flynn, however, finds that debatable. He said that Meade's Luther Scott, South River's Brian Hunt, Old Mill's John Bliss and Southern's Jason Braithwait (currently wrestling at 152) have to be considered.
"Maybe me or Brian has an edge. But Bliss, Braithwait and Scott all did great last year, so maybe there is no edge," said Flynn, a county and regional champion and a state tournament runner-up at 135 pounds last year.
"If you look at any one of those matches, it would be a tough one. So there are just going to be a lot of hard matches and anyone can win any time."
No. 2-ranked Hunt, for example, was fourth in the county and second in both the regional and state tournaments at 140 pounds.
Braithwait, ranked No. 2 at 152 pounds this year, won the county title in Hunt's weight class last year. He then went up to 145 where he won a regional title and finished as the state runner-up. He might return to 145 next month and join the heavily talented division.
Scott finished third in the county tournament at 145 pounds but won the regional title to qualify for last year's state tournament. He already has beaten Bliss, who was ranked No. 6 at the time. Bliss was fourth in the county, regional and state tournaments at 135 last year.
"After last year, I figured the weight class would be mine," Scott said.
"But I was wrong."
Hunt said, "Flynn has the edge -- he's beat me the last three times we've wrestled. But the pressure's really got to be on (Flynn)."
Here's how each of the five wrestlers has performed to date: Pat Flynn, senior, Annapolis (10-0, seven pins): Flynn posted a 28-2 record last year, finishing as a runner-up twice to Frederick's Kevin Caudell in the regional and Class 4A/3A state tournaments. He reached the state finals with an overtime victory over Bel Air's Chris Birth, a Class 2A/1A state champion the year before.
Flynn's battles with Brian Hunt date back to 1983, when they wrestled their first junior-league match, won by Hunt, 8-2. Hunt emerged from those early battles with a 4-1 lead in the series.
"I used to be real skinny, and when I'd shoot for a takedown, he'd just cradle me up," said Flynn, who has won all three of their high school matches, cutting Hunt's series lead to 4-3.
"When I'm wrestling him, it's like wrestling a more muscular version of myself. We've wrestled so many times, and our matches always go back and forth because we know each other's moves pretty well."
The Flynn-Hunt rivalry could resume next Friday, when South River plays host to Annapolis.
"I talked to (Coach Dave Gehrdes) and I'm definitely wrestling 145 that match -- even if the match is close," Flynn said. "I'm definitely looking forward to wrestling him."
Brian Hunt, senior, South River (9-0, six pins): Hunt completed last season with a 28-7 record -- three of those losses coming at the hands of Old Mill's Brad Buckley in the county, regional and state tournaments. The last was a 6-3 loss for the state title.
Hunt also dropped a decision to Larry Bozzella, Southern's eventual state champion, after having beaten him earlier in the year. He could gain a measure of revenge against Bozzella's former teammate, Braithwait, if Braithwait comes down in weight to wrestle him in the Jan. 18-19 Southern Invitational wrestling tournament.
"I've been a lot more offensive this year. I'm going after people instead of them coming after me," said Hunt, a muscular 17-year-old.
He has gone after Thomas Stone's No. 4-ranked Vince Higgs twice this season, winning a pair of close decisions and garnering The Anne Arundel County Sun's Top Male Athlete of the Week honors along the way.
Hunt and Flynn did not meet last season. So, barring a change in lineup by either Annapolis coach Dave Gehrdes or South River coach Chilly Orme, the Hunt-Flynn rivalry will resume next Friday at South River High when the two teams take the mat against each other.
Although Hunt has wrestled 160 once already this season, Orme said that is not likely to happen against Annapolis.
"My feeling is that Hunt will meet Flynn," he said. "Unless it will hurt the team."
Luther Scott, senior, Meade (8-0, six pins): By far, Scott is the most improved wrestler in the weight class.
The 17-year-old started wrestling two years ago as a sophomore, began last season as a junior varsity wrestler and ended the season by reaching the state tournament.
There, he dropped an 8-4 loss to North Carroll's eventual state champion Dave Foster and an equally tough 4-3 consolation semifinal decision to Churchill's Jim Goepfert. Goepfert placed fourth in the state.