Returning State Champs Still Grappling For Respect

January 27, 1992|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff writer

Broadneck sophomore Charlie Bennett didn't expect a marching band and a ticker-tape parade after winning last year's 103-pound, Class 4A/3A state wrestling title.

He did, however, expect more than the reception he received when he returned to Broadneck: Fellow students talked more about the defeat in the 112-pound final of his previously unbeaten teammate, Shawn Miller, than about Bennett's victory.

"I'm under the shadow of Shawn Miller, and that motivates me," said Bennett, now a 112-pound junior. "Miller gets more mention most ofthe time and that's always been the case. I mean, Shawn's awesome, but last year I kind of felt ripped off."

This year, Bennett shareshis quest for respect with Old Mill's 171-pound senior, Brian Layman, although they come from schools that share a bitter rivalry on the wrestling mats.

Each wrestler is a returning Class 4A/3A state champion who has moved up a weight class. Each is ranked No. 4 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association. Layman went 31-0 in last year's first-team All-Metro season, while Bennett was 34-2 as second-team All-Metro.

And over the weekend, each lost for the second time this season.

Top-ranked Old Mill won Friday's dual meet, 40-19, over No.2 Riverdale Baptist, but Layman (a 13-2 record) dropped a 3-2 decision to third-ranked Greg David (24-1), who earlier beat Layman, 5-2.

Bennett (16-2) dropped a 2-0 decision to Northeast freshman Mike Kusick (17-1) in the final of Saturday's Broadneck tournament, althoughthe No. 7 Bruins edged Riverdale Baptist for the title, 163.5-160. Awrestler who was 42-6 as a junior league state champ a year ago, Kusick had been blanked, 6-0, by Bennett earlier in the year.

Different circumstances landed Layman and Bennett in their precarious positions.

Bennett, a former three-time junior league state champ, weighed 118 pounds during the off season and sweated down as low as 107, but could go no lower.

"I was dead at that weight anyway," said Bennett, a county runner-up and regional champion. "It just wasn't worthit."

Layman, who was a well-distributed 200 pounds during the summer, elected to stay at 171 pounds rather than drop to 160, while Quince Orchard's Eric Alban -- who placed third in the state after losing, 7-5, to Layman -- dropped to 160 pounds to improve his title chances.

"I could have dropped, probably, but I thought 'why kill myself?' " said Layman. "I know my weight class is a lot tougher, but I kind of wanted that road. I want to wrestle collegiately, so I've got to wrestle against tougher guys to get better."

The 171-pound classincludes Quince Orchard's returning state-runner-up Jacob Ritchie and Bowie's Scott Wascavage, who are tied at sixth in the MSWA rankings. Perry Hall's Steve Amenta was a state runner-up to Layman last year.

But the big gun Layman likely will have to get past is Randalls town's top-ranked senior, Mike Jenson, a guy who boasts an 78-1-1 career record. Jenson's last loss came in the state semifinals of his sophomore season when he dropped an 8-5 decision to Annapolis' Kevin Lynch, who went on to win the state title while Jenson took third.

Jenson won last year's 171-pound state title with a 35-0 record.

"Ican't wait to wrestle Jenson, but there were a couple of years ago when I wanted to stay away from him," said Layman. "In junior leagues,he won the states at 150 and I was behind him at 142. Last year, my weight class was pretty decent. People thought I had it easy, but a lot of guys just gave up against me. So this year, I want to prove something to myself."

Bennett's weight class was more or less invaded.

There is Kusick, Aberdeen's top-ranked Zack Fowl, who moves up into the Class 4A/3A after winning last year's Class 2A/1A title, and Calvert Hall's Greg Knox, the top-ranked 103-pounder who moved up to edge Bennett, 5-4, for the title in the season-opening Annapolis tournament.

"I've wrestled Knox about 50 times since 1982, and that was only the third time he's beaten me," said Bennett.

The way Bennett tells it, he might as well be a human bull's eye.

"Everybody's coming after me," he said. "I didn't wrestle well against Chesapeake or Severna Park. I thought I'd maybe be out there for a minute, but both those guys came at me hard. I had to wake up and wrestle."

Friday, the Bruins face Old Mill in a rematch of last year's dual meet, won by Broadneck to force a three-way tie for the county title with Annapolis. The dual meet will also offer, for Bennett, a rematch with Old Mill's Steve Lundstrom, who edged him for last year's county title but was a runner-up to Bennett in the regional and state tournaments.

With last year's 10-0 victory over Lundstrom, which Bennett called "the best match of his life," he sparked the Bruins to a 4-0 leadin a 31-28 dual meet win, which ended Old Mill's winning streak at 33.

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