Dunbar's Pendles starting from top as a sophomore

December 08, 1992|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Last season seemed like an eternity for Dunbar's Bruce Pendles.

As a 103-pound freshman, Pendles read the newspaper clippings of guys he had scraps with during his days as a junior leaguer, placing in the states three straight times -- with fifth his highest finish -- in the McKim program.

But after spending last season in relative obscurity, compiling a 21-0 record and pinning 15 opponents, Pendles made headlines by becoming Dunbar's youngest Maryland Scholastic Association champion.

His coach, Damon Matthews, had been the youngest Poet to win a title, capturing his as a sophomore in 1975. But he watched as Pendles took a come-from-behind 4-3, win over Mount St. Joseph's David Inkman in his title bout.

"I felt I needed that win to gain respect," said Pendles, 15, a sophomore who began wrestling in third grade.

Pendles' efforts last year, in addition to his work with the Cadet National Team over the summer, earned him this year's Maryland State Wrestling Association's preseason top ranking at 103 pounds.

"He's really improved a lot, especially on his feet, where he's more aggressive," said Matthews of Pendles, who goes for his first victory Thursday in a match against Carver. "He's still growing, so I may have to let him go on and wrestle at 112 this year."

Ranked behind Pendles at 103 are his former junior league foes -- No. 2 Joey Ottinger (Thomas Johnson), No. 3 Gino Amasia (Calvert Hall), No. 4 Sean Mryncza (Calvert Hall), No. 5 Doug Dell (North Carroll) and No. 6 Todd Beckerman (DeMatha).

"Sometimes I wish they hadn't ranked me that highly, but if I didn't have my junior-league experience, I wouldn't be where I am," said Pendles. "To repeat, I've got to put last year behind me and treat this season like I'm starting all over."

Unlike last season, Pendles' year won't end with the MSA tournament. The city's public schools have joined the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

Under the new format, the Poets are in the 1A classification and will compete in the 2A-1A state tournament with such programs as fourth-ranked, two-time state champion Owings Mills, No. 9 Francis Scott Key and No. 11 Wilde Lake. No. 6 North Carroll and No. 7 Northeast also will be in the state meet, which means that Pendles could meet an old acquaintance -- Dell or Northeast's No. 4 Marty Kusick (112), who was third in last year's state tournament.

He could even face Milford Mill's second-ranked Gary Harris (112), last year's state runner-up. Or in an MSA rematch, Inkman -- who is ranked sixth at 119 -- should Inkman decide to drop weight.

"It's more challenging now," said Pendles. "I know there won't be any easy matches."

Pendles, whose angular, 5-foot-8 stature gives him leveragagainst opponents, dropped overtime decisions to Kusick and Frederick's No. 2-ranked 4A-3A state champ Tim Novak (112) in summer tournaments.

He has lost 6-4 and 1-0 decisions to Beckerman and Dell, trails his series with Amasia, 4-1, and leads the one with Mryncza, 3-2. And in the Annapolis tournament three weeks ago, he edged Ottinger, 4-2.

Pendles says Matthews does a good job of letting him know his potential and his limitations, keeping him focused on one match at a time.

"My coach keeps me from seeing a lot of things, from trying to keep track of everyone else and things like that," said Pendles. "He says things like 'You need to get your heart back' when I start giving up in practice. I think I'm handling it all pretty well."

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