Key's Beale dancing on mat

March 05, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

The three-mile workout runs through Union Bridge are a lot sweeter, he is noticed a little more by everybody and the pizza tasted better last Saturday night at a celebration party.

That is how life has changed for Chris Beale, Francis Scott Key's standout 135-pound wrestler.

Beale and the fifth-ranked Eagles upset second-ranked North Carroll in the state Class 2A-1A, Region I tournament at Boonsboro last Saturday, marking the first time in four years Key has beaten the Panthers in any wrestling competition (dual meets, invitationals, regionals and states).

"We've been in their shadows and now we've finally beaten them," said Beale, who fought off the effects of mononucleosis to wrestle three bouts in one day and finish second at 135 in the regionals. "It gives us more respect around the area and the state. That was the biggest thrill of my wrestling career, and I've been wrestling since I was 7 years old."

They wouldn't be dancing in the halls at Key these days if he had not made a comeback from a two-week layoff because of mononucleosis.

The Key junior pulled down 12 points for second place, giving Key the points it needed to outscore North Carroll, 150-145 1/2 , in the regional.

Minus Beale in the Carroll County tournament, the Eagles finished eight points behind the Panthers, 169-161.

"We're lucky the doctor gave Chris every benefit of the doubt and waited until Tuesday before the regionals to make a decision," said Key coach Bill Hyson. "That was great for him and the team. When he was first diagnosed with mono, my instant reaction was, 'That's it for him for the season.' "

However, Beale held out hope and his optimism was rewarded with a clearance to wrestle three days before the regionals.

"A physical exam showed everything was OK," said Hyson. "His spleen was down. They even gave him a sonogram to double-check and he passed that test."

Beale believes he was able to bounce back so quickly and wrestle three matches in a day in the regional "because I was in good shape."

However, people usually don't get over mononucleosis in two weeks.

"I don't know if he might not have had it in the middle of January and we didn't know it," said Hyson. "We thought it was just a cold or the flu."

Beale admitted he was "tiring real quickly in January."

But he continued on until the middle of February when he officially was diagnosed.

Beale missed the final dual meet of the season against Smithsburg in which the Eagles surprisingly were tied by the Leopards and the Carroll County tournament three days later.

Once he was given the go-ahead to wrestle, the veteran of three seasons on the Key varsity practiced three days and was off to Boonsboro.

He decisioned South Hagerstown's Tom Ashby, 9-5, in the quarterfinals; won by a technical fall, 15-0, over North Hagerstown's John Starkey in the semifinals; and then had very little left for the championship round where he lost a 5-1 decision to Chris Rowe of Northern-Garrett.

"I got tired real quick in both of the matches I won," said Beale. "And in the finals, I was out of breath."

Hyson said his star wrestler was simply "tired physically and mentally" in the championship bout.

"He was relieved just to get that far," said the Key coach.

Now Beale, 24-4, heads into the state 2A-1A tournament today and tomorrow at Western Maryland College with hopes of more success against the Panthers and other tough schools, such as Owings Mills, Northeast and Smithsburg.

The Eagles have qualified 11 wrestlers for the states, compared with eight for North Carroll.

But Beale wouldn't make any predictions of further success against the Panthers.

"I'm hoping to place in the top four," he said. "I'm not predicting a victory over North Carroll."

In three years at Key, Beale has posted a 63-14 record with a strong pattern of consistency and intelligence.

"I'm not really very good at anything," he said. "I'm just good at a lot of things and put them together. I know a lot of moves and have some skills. Also, I think out the matches before I go out on the mat."

Hyson credits Beale with having a "good presence of mind. He knows where he's at all the time and fundamentally correct. He makes up for what he might lack in ability with technique and quickness."

Hard work and persistence are also in the Beale picture.

He runs three miles through Union Bridge with teammate Steve Lessard after practice almost every day.

And he wouldn't give in to mononucleosis at a time when his teammates needed him most in the regionals.

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