'Wrestling Just Runs In The Family,' Edgewood Cousins Find

February 02, 1992|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff writer

The last time Edgewood wrestler Ty Long saw his mother, he waved goodbye to her on a dock in South Vietnam. That was 1979.

Long, now 17, was 5 years old fleeing his homeland with his father, who had escaped from a communist prison. Less than a year later, Long found a newhome with a new family -- that of his cousin Minh Dang, now 16.

Minh's family, parents and seven brothers and sisters, had escaped South Vietnam before he was born. "We left at the same time everyone was leaving. After the war, you had to get out," said Minhchau Dang, 26, whose father was a lieutenant colonel in the army.

The family made a couple of stops en route to their new Edgewood home. Minh arrived on a stopover in Guam, the first of his family to be born a U.S. citizen.

Minh's family was settled by the time Ty joined them.

"We were like the second wave of immigrants. Or we were more like refugees. We had to go to Indonesia for a while, so my father could work to get the money to bring us here," said Ty, whose father lives and works in Washington, visiting his son whenever possible. His mothernow lives in France.

Today, Ty and Minh still live in the same Edgewood split level the Dangs have owned for 16 years. They are more like brothers than cousins, sharing many of the same interests. Wrestling tops their list of favorites.

"Wrestling just runs in the family," said Ty. "It's like it's in the family blood almost."

Minhchau Dang started the family wrestling dynasty. He joined the Edgewood Rec team in the eight grade, made the Edgewood High varsity as a freshman and became a three-time county champion.

Ty and Minh started wrestling in elementary school. "One year, when we were 8 and 9, we wrestled in the same weight class," Minh said. "We wrestled twice. He beat me in the Bel Air Invitational, and I beat him in the county finals."

After that, they moved into different weight classes. They had plenty of competition right in their own neighborhood. Edgewood teammate Tim Beach lives nearby, as does former Edgewood star Keith Spurlin. Aberdeen star Matt Slutzky used to live close by too.

Wrestling is still a family affair in the Dang household. Minhchau, who coaches in the Edgewood program, goes to every meet and gives Ty and Minhpointers at home. "I'm hoping they can do better than I did or win something as valuable as states. But it's tough. There's a lot of competition out there."

Following Minhchau at Edgewood hasn't been easy.

"Teachers and other people at school still remember when he hadto lose weight or had a tough match coming up," said Ty. "He was good, and people at school reminisce. I have to go through that, and it's a lot of pressure. I'm sure it's the same for Minh too."

Ty and Minh haven't won county titles, as Minhchau did, but they have been among the best wrestlers at Edgewood since they arrived. Ty, a senior,is ranked No. 6 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association at 125 pounds.

Edgewood coach Chris Burns can't say enough about his stars.

"They're the type of kids any coach would love to have on his team," he said. "They're both team captains. They're real good students. You never have to be worried about them being under-weight or not ready for a match. I wish I could have them longer."

Wednesday night, C. Milton Wright dealt the Rams a 37-24 loss, but Ty and Dang, both wrestling up a weight class, won their matches. At 125, Dang decisioned Aric Schwab, 13-7. At 130 pounds, Long decisioned Gordon Reilly,7-5.

Ty, who carries a 3.66 grade-point average, plans to try outfor the wrestling team at the University of Maryland in the fall. Minh, a junior with a 3.14 average, hopes to follow his cousin to College Park a year later.

If college wrestling doesn't work out for them, Ty and Minh will have plenty to fill their time. Ty plans to study aerospace engineering, while Minh thinks he will work toward a chemistry major.

"I want to keep wrestling, but I'll see what I can do," Ty said. "Wrestling is not the most important thing on the agenda."

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