Moving to head of his class Hairston looks to become school's first state champ

January 21, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

There are many sides to South River wrestler Jaron Hairston, and at times he appears to be a walking contradiction.

There's Hairston's enforcer side.

In his fourth year in student government, his booming voice makes him an effective sergeant-at-arms, interpreting Robert's Rules of Order.

Yet Hairston, the youngest of five brothers, speaks normally in a harmless monotone. This demeanor, he jokes, comes from the fear of his older brothers' wrath.

Of those older siblings, one is a former boxer, another a former professional football player with the Pittsburgh Steelers and in the Arena Football league.

"If I wasn't polite and well-spoken," says Hairston, 17, "they'd kick my butt."

But it is Hairston, a senior, who has been kicking butt recently.

The imposing, 6-foot-2, 171-pounder has pinned nine of his 14 opponents and has three technical falls. As a linebacker on the Seahawks' football team last fall, Hairston had 117 tackles.

He carries a lean, sculpted upper torso, the work seemingly of years of body building, yet he claims not to have lifted weights until this past summer. His musculature, says Hairston, developed from lifting feed bags for thoroughbreds and chickens on a farm.

Yet Hairston's bench-press hit 315 pounds on one of his first attempts.

"I'll tell you, this kid's one in a million," said South River coach Chilly Orme. "He comes out as a ninth-grader after never wrestling before and he doesn't have the slightest idea what's going on."

Hairston says he lost every match during that regular season.

"But at the junior varsity county tournament," Orme said, "it was like someone just flipped on a switch -- I mean he just kicked butt and won it all. The next year, as a sophomore, he just walked through it."

Hairston, ranked No. 5 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, hopes he can win it all as a senior. His 26-9 record last season included nine of 16 pins in the first period and third place in the county and regional tournaments.

Hairston's improved skills were on display in last weekend's South River tournament. He breezed to the title on a pin and two technical falls despite a weeklong battle with the flu that kept him from practicing effectively.

It was his second tournament title of the season.

His pin in 1:59 earned him the title in an earlier Frederick Douglass

tournament over the host team's Greg Lawrence, who was coming off a victory over Wilde Lake's sixth-ranked Mike Green.

Hairston nearly captured the Lackey tournament title after a 6-4 semifinal decision over McDonough's then third-ranked Chris Brown, who was third in last year's state tournament. Hairston had a 4-0 lead over Springbrook's fourth-ranked Mike Sniffen in the title bout before the flu caught up with him.

Sniffen scored several times in the last minute for a 6-5 decision.

But Hairston is grateful for that experience in his quest to become South River's first state champion.

South River wrestlers have been closer and closer to a state title.

Billy Whitcher (125) was third in the states last year after winning county and regional titles. Brian Hunt (145-152) was a state runner-up in 1990 and 1991, and Christian King was third in 1989.

"I think about that all the time, but there are a lot of guys out there who can make it tough," said Hairston, who will wrestle against No. 14 Chesapeake tomorrow and No. 13 Arundel's third-ranked Greg Booth next Friday.

"I know my match with Greg will be close," said Hairston. "And if I run into Chris Brown again, he'll be out for revenge."

Hairston, a senior, has earned the respect of his peers by example: From being a student government vice president as a freshman and sophomore and president as a junior, to working hard in practice.

One of his brightest moments last year came in the championship bout of the Southern tournament.

Responding to Orme's orders, Hairston -- who had a comfortable lead -- let up his Laurel opponent, took him down and pinned him with 12 seconds left to give the Seahawks a tie with Hammond for the team title.

"That was a lot of me to ask of him, but he came through," said Orme. "That kind of thing takes a lot of guts, but that's the kind of kid he is."

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