Franklin's Hudson creates opportunities, points Pins dominate his score card

January 03, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Franklin High wrestler Jerry Hudson was all arms and legs.

With a casual gait, he slinked his angular, 5-foot-10, 135-pound body onto the mat for the title bout in McDonogh's wrestling tournament.

Hudson's opponent, Randallstown's Baltimore County champion Justin Grodnitzky, was his near-perfect foil: He was shorter, with a muscular texture, and moved quicker.

As they squared off in the circle, Hudson's stance was flat-footed and stationary, Grodnitzky appeared tense, on his toes.

On the whistle, Grodnitzky sprang forward for a quick takedown, with the momentum of Hudson's escape effort taking the grapplers out of bounds.

The wrestlers walked back to the center circle. On the restart whistle, Hudson's speed belied his stature as he burst from the bottom referee's position. Grodnitzky -- whose head slipped down to Hudson's knee -- had control of a single leg, causing Hudson to teeter.

Just then, Hudson lowered the boom -- a standing cradle -- and slowly rocked Grodnitzky to sleep, like a boa constrictor tightening its body around its prey.

Hudson, ranked No. 2 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, took 1 minute, 26 seconds to flatten his sixth opponent in eight matches.

"Hudson's a deadly pinner. He can hit a combination from anywhere -- including on his feet," said Randallstown coach Jeff Langrehr. "And I guess you could say he's our nemesis."

Langrehr has watched Hudson beat three of his wrestlers over two seasons, including a second-period fall over regional runner-up Aaron Grollman in last year's county tournament, and a 6-4 win over Justin's twin brother, Brandon, for last year's regional title.

After seeing Hudson's handiwork again, Langrehr and co-coach Eric Cohen endured the video in practice.

"As quick as it happened, it looked in the tape like Hudson definitely had a plan," Langrehr said. "It seemed like he popped Justin's head out so that he could get the cradle. Before Justin knew what was going on, it was over."

With Hudson, who regularly wrestles at 130 pounds, it's a scene that Franklin coach John Tartal is accustomed to.

"Jerry's like a cat: He strikes quickly," said Tartal of Hudson, who went 24-3 with 16 pins last year, winning county and regional titles and placing third in the 4A-3A state tournament.

"He's a type of big-play wrestler. In a situation that doesn't look like much, he sometimes can create things from nothing, like against Grodnitzky. He's losing 2-0 and creates a cradle out of mid-air. He's an exciting wrestler to watch. Non-conventional. You can't teach the types of almost effortless things he does."

Hudson, 17, spent 11 years learning his craft in the Reisterstown Recreation Council with others such as Calvert Hall's fifth-ranked 135-pound Maryland Scholastic Association champion, Brendan James.

As an eighth-grader in his final year as a junior leaguer, Hudson reached the state finals, where he lost a 10-point decision to Shawn Miller -- the wrestler who pinned him in last year's high school state semifinal en route to a 35-0 state championship season at Broadneck.

Hudson went 18-6 as a Franklin High freshman, watching senior All-Metro teammate Brian Siatkowski win regional and state titles after a county runner-up finish.

"That's my goal this year," said Hudson, "to be the next state champion for our school. Then I want to wrestle at Slippery Rock [University] in Pennsylvania."

That shouldn't be a problem if Hudson keeps getting A's and B's on his report card, which he didn't do as a sophomore, when academic ineligibility forced an early end to his 15-1, 12-pin season.

"I was goofing off too much," said Hudson. "I learned a big lesson from that."

Since then, Hudson has made a habit out of making excellent wrestlers look awful, as when he planted Owings Mills' previously unbeaten Corey Setlen 2:34 into their 119-pound county title bout last year.

"I had lost to Setlen earlier, and I just worked to perfect my moves," said Hudson, who brought a 57-10 career record into this season.

Tartal said: "Corey was a very controlling, dominating wrestler. You had to force him out of his style. But Jerry's not a muscle wrestler, so we mainly worked on making Setlen wrestle Jerry's style, especially on his feet. And when he wrestled Set- len the second time, Jerry got off a lot quicker."

Although Setlen was one of eight pins Hudson had in his past 11 matches -- including four in the state tournament -- Setlen rebounded to win the 2A-1A state title with a 32-1 record.

"After that match, I just told myself I could do well in the regionals and states," said Hudson. "This year, I want to go all the way."

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