Year's Most Resounding Stories Weren't The Ones That Made The Most Noise

DRAWING EVEN

December 29, 1991|By Katherine Dunn

Lots of stories come along during the year that grab the big headlines, but sometimes they don't include some of the more heartwarming moments.

To me, some of the most interesting stories are to be foundjust below the surface of a big story. Here are my favorites from 1991:

On Jan. 18, Aberdeen wrestling coach Dick Slutzky was on the verge of winning his 200th career match at home against Oakland Mills.

Aaron Wanless, a soft-spoken sophomore of few words, stepped onto the mat for the final match of the night. On the scoreboard, Aberdeen led by six points.

Wanless was looking across the mat at the No. 1 heavyweight in the state, Monte Spencer. If Spencer could pin Wanless, a first-year varsity man, the match would end in a tie.

For morethan a minute and a half in the final period, Spencer held Wanless on his back. At times, Spencer appeared just millimeters from the pin.Wanless never gave up. When the final buzzer sounded, Wanless had lost the bout, 8-0, but the Eagles won the match, 33-31.

"I thought it was going to be a tie," said Slutzky, "but Aaron gave him a lessonin what heart is all about."

*

At the county swimming championships in February, John Carroll senior Stewart Harris set a county record in the 500-meter freestyle. He also won three other medals.

Not bad for someone who suffered a broken collarbone, a knee ligament injury and then reinjured the collarbone -- all between late September and December.

In September, Harris broke the collarbone in a pick-up football game. Once he recovered, he injured the knee in an accident at the Patriots homecoming football game in October. Walking down the bleachers, he caught his foot in a gap and twisted the anteriorcruciate ligament away from the bone.

Harris, a veteran of the Edgewood Aquanauts, missed two weeks of practice but was nearly up to speed when the high school swim season began in December. He made it safely to Christmas break.

Then he went skiing. Dropping off a ski lift, Harris got a ski tangled up on a friend's pole. He fell, landing on the collarbone. He severely bruised it on a piece of wood jutting through the light snow cover.

*

The Persian Gulf war wasn't far from just about anyone's mind last winter. Local men serving in Saudi Arabia were even remembered quietly at the state basketball tournament the first weekend in March.

Joppatowne won its second straight Class 1A state title, and they honored two former teammates throughout the tourney.

Everyone on the Mariners' team wore an orange ribbon pinned to their warm-up jacket as a tribute to two former teammates serving in the Persian Gulf, Lamont Wesson and Tim Herd. Both were still serving with the Army in the Middle East at the time of the state title game.

Coach Mike Bauer was impressed that the Mariners wanted to remember their former teammates.

"The kids came to me and asked if they could do this. They were very mature about it. They wanted to do something to show their concern, but it wasn't something outlandish. This kept the kids focused on things that were more important than basketball."

*

C. Milton Wright's field hockey team won its first regional title in November. But it was a bittersweet victory for the Mustangs.

The Mustangs beat Bel Air, 2-1, to advance to the state semifinals, but one of their best fans wasn't there to see their biggest win. Thomas T. Dubel, the C. Milton Wright principal, had died of heart failure just a week earlier.

Dubel had given the Mustangs plenty of encouragement earlier in the season, so they dedicated their win to him.

Goalie Sarah Sloop, who had 15 saves in the Bel Air game, recalled, "He always said, 'I have a feeling this is going to be the year you beat Bel Air.' "

"The first time we played (during the regular season), we lost, and it was really close, sothis is for him."

*

Anna Romagna sprained her ankle in April and could barely walk until early May. But the 72-year-old Joppa resident won two gold medals and a silver in track at the national Senior Olympics in Syracuse, N.Y., held in late June and early July.

Romagna, Charles Irwin, Ed Sebring, Tom Coyle, Millie and Bud Steckman and Beatrice Short, all from Harford County, competed in the nationals.Only Romagna and Irwin (who took a silver medal in the high jump) won medals. But all the participants had a great time.

Covering the Senior Olympics was the highlight of the year for me.

Being aroundthe senior athletes for a week was refreshing. As athletes they are different than most I meet.

They don't complain. They never make excuses. They wouldn't think of bragging.

They truly appreciate what they are able to do. And they appreciate what others are able to do.

Make no mistake: Senior athletes want to win. But, thankfully, for them winning isn't everything.

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