Irvine hopes to get leg up on postseason injury S. Carroll wrestler aiming for states

January 14, 1993|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

South Carroll wrestler Jeff Irvine hopes to make the state tournament. Then, he hopes to be healthy enough to wrestle in it.

Irvine made the state tournament last year, but missed it due to an injury. He twice made the state tournament in junior league competition only to miss those with injuries. Irvine hopes his next break in the state tournament will be a lucky one.

Irvine is playing a tough role for South Carroll this season. The 5-foot-6 junior is a natural 119-pounder, but South Carroll has been hurt by injuries, and coach Pete Olson has shuffled Irvine between 119 and 125.

"Because of the injury [the broken collarbone of Matt Stephenson (125)], we had to move Jeff to go against the tougher opponent at 119 or 125," said Olson. "It's not the role I wanted for him."

Irvine said he's simply trying to do what's best for the team.

"It's kind of tough," said Irvine. "I can't say no. I'm wrestling for the team."

Irvine has done well so far, posting a 10-3 record heading into tonight's match with North Carroll.

In fact, Irvine has done well throughout his career at South Carroll. He stands seventh on the all-time list for wrestling victories (50) at South Carroll. Olson says Irvine could have a shot at the school record for pins.

Wrestling the larger opponents, especially when he takes on the 125-pounders, should have a positive side, according to both Olson and Irvine. Later in the season, Irvine should benefit from taking on the tougher wrestlers.

Irvine hopes to do a little better in this postseason than in past ones. In junior league wrestling, he first qualified for the state tournament at age 12 but tore a knee ligament in practice and missed it.

He qualified again at age 13, but a broken arm forced him out of that tournament.

High school wrestling hasn't been much better. During his freshman year, Irvine set a school record for pins (18) and tied one for victories as a freshman (22) en route to a 22-5 season. He made the state tournament as an alternate, however, but didn't get to wrestle.

Last year, he posted an 18-5 record. He qualified for the state tournament but missed it due to an injured neck sustained in the regional tournament.

That explains why Irvine just wants to make the state tournament and not get injured so he can participate.

"[The past] bothers me," said Irvine. "There's not much I can do but look back."

Irvine said he does not feel jinxed. In fact, he said if any jinx existed, it was snapped last year when he pinned Wayne Gast of Eastern Vo-Tech from Baltimore County in the regional tournament.

That's because Irvine was wrestling with Gast in practice when he tore the knee ligament that kept him out of the state tournament at age 12.

Olson said Irvine certainly has a legitimate shot at this year's tournament. Irvine said if and when that time gets close, he will take extra precautions.

Last year, Irvine attended the state tournament despite not being able to wrestle. Sitting in the stands at Western Maryland College was a depressing experience, he said.

Irvine said sitting there, knowing his name wouldn't be called and that he wouldn't walk out on the mat, was something he would not like to go through again. This year, he wants to wrestle, not watch.

"Just making it to the states would be great," said Irvine. "That's all I want. Just to say I've been there would be [great]."

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