Bel Air stayed focused, then got a grip on Fallston Bobcats ready for Aberdeen showdown

February 07, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

The Bel Air Bobcats, unbeaten against Harford County foes, needed to focus Wednesday night to get past host Fallston.

The team had been hurt by illness and academic casualties, but there also was another problem.

"We were looking past Fallston and thinking about next week's meet with [county champion] Aberdeen," said Brandon Barrett, one of two seniors on the Bel Air roster. "We had to come together as a team and focus on Fallston."

Jason Smith, a 147-pound reserve who filled in for an ill teammate, fired up his team with a decision over Justin Bendis at 160, and Barrett followed with the quickest pin of the night, 25 seconds in the first period.

Bel Air went on to record a 38-28 win.

"Seeing Jason win, I really got pumped," Barrett would say later, and Jeremiah Bowling clinched the victory with a pin at 189.

"It's all up here," said Bel Air's other senior, Anthony Pasko, tapping his forehead.

"It's the same with individuals as the team. You can't make mistakes. And you win off others' mistakes."

Barrett agreed.

"If you go out intimidated, you'll lose. You have to go out knowing you're going to win. We expect to win -- for the team. The more success a person has, the farther it will carry him, but there has to be a positive attitude."

Bel Air and Centennial will be at No. 5 Francis Scott Key Wednesday, then coach Gene Blizzard's squad comes home Friday for a season-ending showdown with Aberdeen. The county tournament will be Feb. 19-20 at Havre de Grace, the regionals Feb. 26-27 and the state meet March 5-6.

Pasko and Barrett are the survivors of a good freshman class from three years ago, although Pasko admits it is the motivation from his brother Vitto, who wrestled for Bel Air prior to his 1990 graduation, that keeps him going.

"I probably wouldn't have got into it if not for my brother," he said. "Still, a lot of people think this is an individual sport and you come out for the competition and the thrill of individual status, but basically it's a team sport."

Last year, Pasko was 19-8 overall, third in the county, second in the region, and was selected his team's best junior.

Barrett said: "Our freshman year, wrestling had the best team in school and I think Vitto and Chris Birth [a state champion] motivated us.

"I had started in the rec program and just kept going. This is my third varsity season, with the first two at 160. I was .500 for both of them and an alternate to the regions both years without going. This year, I want to get to the regions."

He also cited an integral aspect of the sport, the dropout rate between the freshman and senior years.

"This is basically a junior-sophomore team, although Ryan Zimmerman is a good one at 103, and he's a freshman. Hopefully, these guys will stay with it," he said.

"Everybody gets a chance to wrestle here, but it seems the ones who are left are the crazy people -- the ones who sweat, put in a lot of long hours, put out a lot of hard work. It's the most intense sport in which I've participated."

The two seniors are unlikely physical contrasts, with Pasko a slender 5-foot-11 and 140 pounds, and Barrett a compact 5-7 and 171 pounds. And that is down from the 195 he carried as an offensive tackle for Bel Air's football team.

Still, cutting weight -- a traditional wrestling trademark -- is not a factor for this team.

"It's not stressed and we wrestle where we're most comfortable," said Barrett, who has compiled a record of 13-9, but has only one loss in seven county matches.

And Pasko, 17-3 overall at 135-140, is 9-0 since moving to the higher weight the first of the year. Each has recorded 10 pins.

In the end, the two agreed, it comes down to style -- what suits you best to get the job done.

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