Many high school wrestlers don't mount a comeback from injury duringthe summer. And those recovering from major injuries don't usually end up in a national championship tournament.
But Brian Kurek did.
After suffering a dislocated knee with torn cartilage and ligaments in January, Kurek had to sit out the end of the high school wrestling season. To get that knee back in shape for the upcoming season, the C. Milton Wright senior decided to hit the mats early.
Kurek, 17, began the summer by wrestling at a few tournaments. He ended up wrestling at the Junior National Freestyle Wrestling Tournament in Warrensburg, Mo., two weeks ago.
"I just recovered in time to try to qualify for this. (The injury) made it tougher getting in," said Kurek. "I was a little surprised to make it, but I knew it was within my grasp all along."
To earn a spot at the national tournament, Kurek won the Friends Tournament and finished third at the Bullis Tournament earlier this summer. Those strong showings earned him a spot on theMaryland Wrestling Association's Junior Freestyle team.
When he got to Missouri, Kurek wrestled at 191 pounds. He did not win a match at the double-elimination tournament.
"I did all right in competition. They just had a little edge on me," said Kurek, who hopes to return to the national tournament next year.
The competition proved tough on all of the state's wrestlers, including two others from Harford County. Edgewood graduate Keith Spurlin did not win a match while Aberdeen senior Matt Slutzky won one.
For Kurek, who has continuedto train, the summer experience has given him a boost into what he hopes will be his most successful high school season. "This is the first year I've wrestled all year round, so I think that'll make a big difference.
Last year, the injury cut short a promising season. In 1990, Kurek had finished second in the county championships and fifthin the regionals.
Kurek now has high hopes for his senior season.He is already putting a lot of pressure on himself. "I plan on doingreally good. My knee is still kind of weak, but it's getting better and better. I think I already have the county title. I'm looking for the state title."