2 Wrestlers Seek Even Greater Glory At National Tourney

June 23, 1991|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff writer

He'll likely go down in history as one of the most feared and talented wrestlers in the history of Edgewood High School.

Keith Spurlinwas the school's first three-time county champion -- he was a runner-up as a freshman -- and twice won regional championships.

Despite his record, Spurlin, who graduated in May, will spend theentire summer trying to make up for what he didn't accomplish.

"Ifinished third in the state tournament for the second time this year, but I never won a state title," said Spurlin, who compiled a 32-3 record as an All-Metro 152-pounder in 1991. "I'm basically wrestling alot this summer to catch up and having a lot of fun doing it. Plus, I'm spending a lot of time with my buddy (Aberdeen's three-time statechampion Matt Slutzky). He's helped me out a lot."

Spurlin and Slutzky are members of the Maryland State Wrestling Association's National Junior Freestyle team that will travel to Warrensburg, Mo., on July 26 for the biggest tournament of its kind for high school-age grapplers.

The Greco tournament, which will be July 29-30, and the Aug. 1-3 freestyle tournament will feature about 100 wrestlers from around the nation in 13 weight classes.

Slutzky, who will be a senior at Aberdeen next year, was a repeat All-Metro performer in 1991 and was this year's Sun Wrestler of the Year with a 90-4-1 career record. He will likely enter the tournament at 132 pounds, while Spurlin is sweating down to 143.

Slutzky's Aberdeen teammate, Zack Fowl, will enter the National Cadet Freestyle tournament for wrestlers 15 to 16 years old.

During the high school season, all three of Spurlin's losses came via decision.

One, a 4-3 decision, came against Gilman's David Gilner, a first-team All-Metro selection, Maryland ScholasticAssociation champion and a National Prep tournament runner-up. A 5-3decision came in the Class 2A/1A state semifinals against Gwynn Park's Charles Adair, the eventual runner-up. And his third loss came in overtime against a Pennsylvanian in the finals of the Edgewood Invitational tournament.

"Some days during the high school season, I just wasn't into it," said Spurlin, who maintained a 3.5 grade-point average at Edgewood. "But this summer, I have just been very consistent.I've been just having fun and exposing myself to different styles."

Since the state tournament in March, Spurlin has wrestled in several tournaments around the state, with victories in the Annapolis, Salisbury and Hagerstown open freestyle tournaments. Along the way, he defeated the 140-pound Class 2A/1A state champion, James Burrell, fromHoward County's Hammond High.

As one of the U.S. representatives wrestling against a Russian contingent in early May, Spurlin was one of just three wrestlers to win -- and the only one to pin his opponent.

Yet Spurlin, who will turn 18 in December, has had only limitedsuccess in attracting college recruiters.

"I got accepted into Drexel University's architecture school, and then they pulled the offerat the last minute."

He plans to attend James Madison University and wrestle as a walk-on.

Like Spurlin, Slutzky is putting in timeon the mat this summer, having won titles in the freestyle district tournament in Pennsylvania and the Annapolis and Hagerstown open tournaments.

He's been going head-to-head in practice with guys like Owings Mills' 130-pound state champion and first-team All-Metro Grant Johnson, who was 28-1 this past season. Then there are the sparring sessions with Mount St. Joseph graduate Scott Schmidt, a former Sun Wrestler of the Year and National Prep champion.

"I know the tournament's going to be pretty tough, but I've been working out with some pretty good guys," said Slutzky, who is fighting off a knee injury similar to the one that kept him out of last year's freestyle nationals.

As for Fowl, he was a sophomore this year when he won county, regional and state titles while compiling a 31-2 record at 103 pounds. His only losses were against DeMatha's National Prep

champion MynorHerrera, 3-2, and Edgewood's Ty Long, whom he later pinned.

Although he plans to enter the nationals in the 114-pound class, Fowl has spent most of the summer wrestling against larger opponents, at 121 pounds and up.

He won tournaments in Pennsylvania and Hagerstown. In finishing third in the Annapolis and Salisbury tournaments, he suffered losses to Broadneck's 112-pound state tournament runner-up ShawnMiller (31-1 during the high school season) and Paint Branch's Class4A/3A state champion Craig Middledorf.

"I got a takedown twice onMiddledorf and was only awarded one point. But then he rolled me twice and got a lot more points," said Fowl. "I haven't been doing a lotof freestyle wrestling until this summer. The rules are a lot different than high school wrestling, and I'm not used to them. But if I keep on wrestling, I'll get the hang of it."

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