Havre de Grace wrestler Jim Ervine knows exactly what he wants over the next three weeks.
In chronological order: A county championship, a regional championship and a state championship. But those aren'texactly in order of importance.
Ervine has been frustrated in the states the last two years and would like nothing more than to polish off his high school career witha title.
Warriors teammate Tom Burdsall has the same goal. But Burdsall hasn't met with quite the frustration Ervine has known the past two years at the state tournament.
As a sophomore, Ervine finished fifth, losing 6-5 to the eventual runner-up. Last year after winning county and regional titles, he fell, 4-3, in the state-title bout to Mike Lowe of Mardela High near Ocean City.
Now ranked fourth bythe Maryland State Wrestling Association at 125 pounds, Ervine is favored to repeat the county title.
But he is pushing himself to be ready for states. He knows he may have to beat Lowe, a junior, to winthe elusive title.
Ervine (19-1) suffered his only setback Jan. 23 by default to C. Milton Wright's Aric Schwab because of an injury. Ervine had so much pain and swelling in his side that he was rushed to the hospital. He had torn a muscle that bled badly internally. But the injury healed quickly and Ervine said it will not be a factor in postseason.
"It's fine," said Ervine, who has been wrestling for 13 years. "I don't even feel it. People like (Schwab) will try to go for it, but they won't be able to keep me down."
One of the most intense wrestlers around, Ervine drives himself with extra training. After Coach Greg Long's practice sessions, the senior often takes long runs.
"Everyday he comes to work hard," said Long. "He has great balance and he's reallly strong. But he also has the discipline."
Ervine admitted that he didn't always have that discipline, especiallyas an underclassman. When his divorced parents both moved out of state, Ervine wanted to remain in Havre de Grace, but living with a friend's family didn't help his athletics or his academics.
At the endof his sophomore year, Ervine was ready move to Philadelphia to joinhis dad. But Havre de Grace High English teacher Don Osman took in Ervine so he could stay in Havre de Grace.
Since moving in with Osman, Ervine said, he has been on tighter reins, and that has helped his wrestling. Ervine's academics are better but not good enough to gethim into a major college. In the fall, he'll attend Harford Community College to boost his grades enough to transfer to a college with a strong wrestling program.
In the meantime, Ervine has to decide whether to wrestle postseason tournaments at 119 or 125 pounds. In whichever class he picks, he will face tough competition.
Burdsall also will face some stiff competition in the county, regional and state tournaments. All season Burdsall has wrestled at 160 pounds, compiling a 19-3 record, but he is considering jumping up to 171 for postseason competition.
Burdsall (19-3), second in the state as a sophomore, was runner-up in the county last year. Pinned in the 160-pound final by North Harford's Dan Gunn, Burdsall has had trouble with anotherHawk this season, Marc Perrine. Perrine (second at 152 last year) isthe favorite for the county title at 160.
The two already have met twice this year, and Burdsall has yet to win. The two could be headed for a third showdown in Saturday night's county finals.
"Perrine is a more even match for me than Gunn, and I think I have a good chance against him," said Burdsall, who lost both matches by two points.
"Gunn would always pin me, but Perrine hasn't gotten me on my back. But he doesn't give up. This time I'll have to wrestle smarter."
A four-year veteran of the Warriors' varsity, Burdsall has wrestled since he was 11 years old. After moving to Havre de Grace from New Jersey, he spent a year in the Aberdeen rec program before hitting the high school mat.
Burdsall posted his best record so far as a sophomore, 26-4. To better that mark, he probably would have to win all three postseason titles. Ervine thinks Burdsall can.
"He's dedicated," said Ervine. "He has an unorthodox style. He's wiry, but he hitsmoves that you wouldn't think he could."
If Burdsall moves up a weight class, he won't have an easy time at 171 either. Aberdeen's Mike Taylor, a powerful wrestler, could give him trouble.