WESTMINSTER — Of the state's best heavyweight wrestlers, many thought Southern's Robert Burley had the perfect weapon to dethrone Oakland Mills' top-ranked defending state champion, Monte Spencer.
But Burley's inside-single-leg maneuver -- a quick snag of the opposing wrestler's leg --just didn't work.
The result was a 4-2 decision loss and a runner-up finish after holding a brief 1-0 lead in the 2A-1A state tourney bout.
"He countered very well," said the muscular, 202-pound Burley, who ends his senior season with a 27-5 record (21 pins). "He was big (235 pounds), but he could shift his weight real quick. Real quick."
And Northeast's 112-pound county champion, Mike Kusick, thinks he knows how to beat Damascus' No. 2-ranked state champion, Kendall Lloyd, especially after reviewing videotapes of his two losses to the muscular senior.
Unfortunately, Kusick, a freshman, won't get another shot at him.
"He was tough and strong. It was hard to get him to open up," said Kusick (29-3), who led, 1-0, in the second period before dropping a 4-3 decision to Lloyd.
"He made it tough to get my shots in," said Kusick, who completed his first high school season with seven pins and nine wins by technical fall (15 or more points). "There are some things I could have done differently, like move his head around more toget him off balance. Maybe if he was a little weaker."
Both wrestlers finished as a runner-up to their opponents for the second consecutive week. Burley lost to Spencer by an identical score in last weekend's Region III tournament. In the same region, Kusick lost, 5-2, toLloyd.
Burley was looking to become the Bulldogs' fourth consecutive state titlist -- Southern's Jason Braithwaite (152) won it last year. Kusick, along with his twin brother, Marty (26-1-1), who finished third in the state, were trying to become Northeast's first state champions since 119-pound Joey Latham in 1987.
Marty Kusick cruisedto an 11-3 consolation final victory over Chopticon senior Phillip Gainey for third place. He used a technical fall and a pin to reach the semifinal round, where he dropped a 7-4 decision to North Carroll'seventual state champion, Jeremy Myers (30-1). Myers' only loss of the year came, 3-1, against Arundel's Class 4A-3A Region IV champion, Phil Meenan.
Meenan, who placed third in the Class 4A-3A state tournament, was beaten twice, 6-3, and 9-0, by Kusick.
Northeast finished seventh with 43.5 points in the 2A-1A tournament, won for the second straight year by Owings Mills.
Two more Northeast grapplers lost their first of two bouts to the eventual state champions. Al Grunder (152), a regional champion and county runner-up, was beaten in thesemifinals, 9-3, by Hereford's champion Jesse Channell (27-4-1). Northeast's county runner-up, Bill Katzenberger (145) lost his quarterfinal bout, 6-4, to J. M. Bennett's champion, Vernon Knox.
Yet the three county wrestlers who placed aren't sulking over their losses.
"I was hoping to go out on top, but it didn't go that way," said Burley, a two-time county tournament runner-up who placed third in last year's state meet. "It feels good to have advanced further than last year."
The Kusicks, each a junior league state champion last year,were hoping to continue their success on the high school level.
"I'm satisfied, but I think Marty was a little disappointed," said Mike Kusick, 15. "But we're both looking forward to next year and the next three years -- big time."