Staab seeks happy ending again Dundalk's first wrestling champ has a 16-0 record

January 05, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Dundalk's Rick Staab says he has watched the tape of the event "about a thousand times."

"There was a lot of pressure on me to become our school's first state champ," said Staab, recalling his 6-5 victory over Quince Orchard's Jorge Garcia in the 140-pound 4A-3A state title bout a year ago.

"I was the only one from my team left in the tournament, so all eyes were on me. With all those people around, I was never so nervous as I was at that point."

Staab trailed, 5-4, against Garcia, who entered the bout with a 33-1 record and was moments away from the win when the two fatigued wrestlers stopped circling each other and fell into a standing clinch.

"I looked over and saw that there were just seven seconds on the clock," said Staab, who then summoned all the strength he could muster for one final effort -- a duck-under takedown -- and spun behind an exhausted Garcia.

"I started the move with about four seconds left as more of a reaction and a result of all the time I've spent drilling it in practice," said Staab, who capped a 32-1, 10-pin junior season that included county and regional titles. "It was a type of scared energy that worked for me that night."

Along with Aberdeen's Matt Slutzky becoming the state's first four-time champion, Staab's triumph was one of the most remembered high school sports events broadcast on local television last season. He ran across the mat and leaped into the arms of coach Bob Hutsler as Garcia dropped first to his knees, then flat on his face in dejection.

"I've got it on tape and every time I look at it I get chills," said fourth-year coach Hutsler, whose 12th-ranked Owls are 4-0. "I've had that as a goal for the last four years. There's no question it's the highlight of my coaching career. You're talking about a quality individual who really deserves it."

What can Staab, now at 145, do as an encore? At 16-0 and with more pins (11) than he had in all of last season, he's doing his best to top last year's effort.

The road could be even tougher with Randallstown's fourth-ranked Johnny Montgomery (152), last year's 145-pound 4A-3A champ, tentatively planning to drop into the 145-pound class for the postseason.

Already at 145 is McDonough's (Charles County) Damon Newsome, who lost to Montgomery in overtime of their state title bout last year.

Meanwhile, Staab, a two-time county champion, has kept piling up the victories, winning the Loch Raven Tournament crown for the third time and the Hereford Tournament for the second.

"He's a hard-working kid and a good student," said Hutsler of Staab, who is a B student after compiling a 3.81 grade-point average last year.

He plans to major in electrical engineering at Drexel or Maryland.

"He's a little upset that he got a B in one of his honors classes this year," said Hutsler. "But he's not the bragging type. You'd never know to look at him that he's a state champion."

Staab is a late bloomer compared to most wrestlers of his caliber, having only begun wrestling as an eighth-grader.

"I was going to Holabird Middle School when coach Hutsler came down for an exhibition," said Staab. "I hadn't played any sports until then."

At Hutsler's urging, he hit the mats under Bob Crandell in the Dundalk Hawks' junior league program.

"I got slaughtered during my first year, going 10-11," said Staab, who then spent the summer working out with former Baltimore Sun Wrestler of the Year Gene Curran and All-Metro, Maryland Scholastic Association champion Gary Mryncza. "They basically whipped me into shape."

As a ninth-grade junior leaguer, a 130-pound Staab won both the Baltimore County and state titles.

Then, as a 135-pound Dundalk sophomore, Staab went 28-6, captured the county crown, finished third in the region and placed fourth in the state meet.

He edged Suitland's Damon Stephens, 18-12, in the quarterfinals and dropped a semifinal decision to eventual champion Brent Layman (Old Mill) before losing a rematch to Stephens, 4-2, for fourth place.

"He's one of the strongest guys I've ever had to wrestle," said Staab, who edged Stephens (now a scholarship wrestler at Maryland), 9-8, in last year's state semifinal before beating Garcia.

Staab had a rib injury in last week's 14th annual Arundel Invitational, yet pinned all three of his opponents, including Chesapeake's (Anne Arundel) Rob Zittle (9-2), who was the tournament's runner-up a year ago -- to win his third straight tournament crown.

"It's my flexibility more than my strength that wins a match for me," said Staab. "I don't consider myself a pinner, they're just coming as a result of the moves I do."

And so far, Staab's moves have been all the right ones.

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