For those Arundel High wrestling fans who thought couldn't fill the big shoes of heavyweight Tim Kerns, well, you can start calling him Big Foot.
Beach, the fifth-ranked heavyweight by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, pulled off a huge upset at Saturday's eighth annual Arundel Invitational Wrestling tournament with an exciting 9-6victory over Oakland Mills' top-ranked Monte Spencer.
His victory not only earned the only individual title for the Wildcats -- who finished sixth overall in an eight-team field, with 91 points -- but it took him a step further than his predecessor, Kerns.
Kerns was a 6-foot-3, 265-pounder and made The Sun's All-Metro first team after posting a 30-3 record. He won a county title and finished second in both the regional and Class 4A/3A state tournaments along the way.
Kerns ended the season as the state's No. 3-ranked heavyweight and never got as high as No. 1, which Beach hopes to be, following his victory over Spencer.
"Some people are always comparing me to (Kerns). They say I'm trying to step into his shoes," said Beach, a 6-foot, 230-pound senior who has a 16-0 record. "Last year, I only weighed about 210 and Kerns beat the crap out of me. So now, when he comes to matches, I feel like I've got to show him what I've learned."
Judging by the impressive fashion in which he defeated Spencer, he has learned plenty.
In order to quicken the pace of the tournament, which ended up lasting until around 11:30 p.m., matches had been wrestled simultaneously on two adjacent mats.
Fittingly, however, the Spencer-Beach showdown was the last bout and the entire crowd surrounded the mat as the two wrestlers faced off.
Although neither wrestler could score in the first period, Beach countered a Spencer takedown near the edge of the mat and with 47 seconds left, landed on top of him as the two tumbled out of bounds.
It drew a roar from the crowd and proved a portent of things to come. Beach later revealed he also gained confidence from the maneuver.
"We spent the first part of the first period trying to see what the other guy could do," said Beach, who was 25-1 on the junior varsity last year. "But when that happened, I knew I could beat him. He could lock up the bear hug real tight, but I locked my hands around his arms and pushed out into his chest. Coach told me to counter him that way."
In the second period, Spencer chose the bottom spot of the referee's position and got a quick escape. Beach then bode his time for another counter and a big scoring opportunity.
With 40 seconds gone in the period, Spencer began locking Beach up again. This time, Beach caught him inside the circle for a five-point takedown.
"Monte stepped in for thefront head lock and got his hips low," Oakland Mills coach Dan Ricker said.
However, with Beach closing in for the pin, the bout was stopped. The move and Beach's tight grip had aggravated an old injuryto Spencer's shoulder.
"I thought he faked it big-time," Beach said.
Sensing a mental advantage, Beach pressed on the restart. At the referee's whistle, Beach draped his belly across Spencer's back, clamped a tight cradle and pulled him over and backward for three moreback points.
He was unable to get the pin, however, and settled for holding Spencer there for the remainder of the period and an 8-1 lead.
Spencer, a smooth operator on his feet, closed with an escape and a pair of nice takedowns. But they were not enough, and his record fell to 17-1.
Beach's victory set off a celebration in which 15or so students and Arundel wrestling fans mobbed him, nearly accomplishing what Spencer had trouble doing -- they almost swept him off his feet.
"This win only means I've got to bust my butt," Beach said. "I know he beat (Chopticon's No. 2-ranked John Scheer and Old Mill's No. 4-ranked Don Marco), but anybody can beat anybody. I found out I was ranked and almost lost my match to the Annapolis guy."
Beachwas recalling his narrow, 6-3 victory over Annapolis' Demond Galloway last Wednesday. Galloway was fourth at Arundel.
And there are others, including Southern's Robert Burley and North County's Jim Ray, with whom Beach must deal.
Like Kerns, who had a 1-4 record against his Queen Anne's nemesis, Kevin Barney, the No. 1-ranked heavyweight and a state champion last year, Beach expects to start a series with Spencer.
"I'll probably see him again in the regionals and if weboth make it to the states," he said. "I plan on beating Spencer more than this once -- I have to, if I want to win the states."