Beckerman is tournament tough DeMatha freshman from Crofton winning medals and praise

February 26, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Paul Beckerman thought his son's first wrestling match was )) going to be his last.

"As a first-grader, Todd got pinned and came off of the mat crying," Beckerman said. "I figured this isn't his sport."

But Todd surprised his father and mother, Meg, pinning his next opponent with 15 seconds left after trailing, 10-4.

"We didn't expect that," said Paul, whose son wrestled in junior league programs at Crofton and North and South Bowie. "What he's doing now is beyond our wildest dreams."

The Crofton resident and the Maryland State Wrestling Association's top-ranked 103-pounder is 47-1 with 38 pins as a DeMatha freshman.

In the Metro Conference Tournament at Washington's Gonzaga two weeks ago, the muscular 14-year-old scored his third technical fall, 15-0, over Quinn Foster of Paul VI of Fairfax, Va.

Beckerman figured he would have a tougher time with Foster, because Foster once defeated him in the junior leagues and had lost just 11-7 after trailing 9-0 in their most recent dual-meet clash.

"As soon as I got out on the mat, the nervousness went away," said Beckerman. "After I took him down with a single-leg sweep to a dump and almost pinned him, I knew I would win."

For the 5-foot-2 Beckerman, who helped the Stags win their eighth straight Metro crown, it was the 10th gold medal since winning the Sombo World title on Nov. 1 in England.

Beckerman took his 11th event at the St. Alban's tournament last weekend, scoring four first-period pins before beating Foster, 11-6, and leading the Stags to a team title over the 40-team field. He goes after his 12th event today and tomorrow at the National Preps in Lehigh, Pa.

Beckerman has won tournaments in the Maryland Invitational at Curley, and at Annapolis, Frederick Douglass, Lackey, Herndon (Va.), Arundel, Aberdeen and Gilman schools.

"I don't have a favorite [tournament win], but the first one at Curley was important," said Beckerman, who pinned Philadelphia Catholic League champ Scott Avellino (St. Joe's Prep) in 3:36.

He also owns first-period pins over Quince Orchard's fourth-ranked David Chee and another in 4:33 over Calvert Hall's then-third-ranked Gino Amasia. Two of his six decisions came over Riverdale Baptist's then-fifth-ranked Nate Powell and Chip Reyes, a Cadet All-American from Virginia Beach.

Beckerman's durability is stunning. Knocked unconscious during the second day of a Greco-Roman Cadet Nationals competition over the summer, he withdrew only to return and win the freestyle title over the next two days.

And, unlike most wrestlers who wear braces on their teeth, Beckerman eschews using a mouthpiece.

"He's just a hard worker who never stops," DeMatha coach Dick Messier said of Beckerman, whose high-protein diet and weightlifting regimen took him from 85 pounds last spring to a "walking around weight" of 106.

"He's always pushing himself in the weight room for that energy he might need in a match."

When Beckerman was 10, a representative invited him to join Club Foxcatcher, an elite program that trains Olympians in various sports. Since then, Paul Beckerman said, "about once a week, we've made two-hour trips [to New Town Square, Pa.] for two hours of training."

"Winning makes people come after you," said Beckerman. "There are guys cutting from 112 to wrestle me."

His only loss, 8-7, came against Northeast's No. 2-ranked 112-pounder, Marty Kusick, a county and regional champ who cut weight to meet him.

But Kusick, a 16-year-old who placed third in the state last year, said, "Beckerman's too strong to lose again."

Said Messier: "Todd learned a lot from Kusick. He can switch to so many different moves. And the pressure's off. He's not worried about losing."

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