To Kohlhafer, the little victories were as enjoyable as state trophy 1992-93 BALTIMORE SUN ALL-METRO WRESTLING TEAM Coach of the Year

March 17, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Even more than winning this year's 2A-1A wrestling state title, Northeast coach Al Kohlhafer enjoyed this season's "little victories."

Among them was watching the progress of junior Matt Jewer (135), a county runner-up and regional champ who placed fourth in the state meet.

"He never gets any ink like some of the others, and he's so quiet, you never even know he's around," said Kohlhafer, who won his second state crown since the Eagles won Anne Arundel County's first in 1976. "He's done so much for our team and I really appreciate that."

No doubt Kohlhafer, The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro Coach of the Year, also appreciated his Eagles' placing six of their nine qualifying wrestlers in the top four, including three state champs: the sophomore Kusick twins, Marty (103 pounds, 34-0) and Mike TC (112, 33-1), and senior Al Grunder (160, 27-7).

Northeast's 120 points were five shy of the 2A-1A record set by Owings Mills two years ago.

To celebrate, Kohlhafer wanted to go home and enjoy it with his wrestlers and assistant coaches Bill Royer, Duane Talley and Chuck Yocum.

"That's typical of him," said Yocum. "He wants nothing for himself."

While the Eagles (12-1) were turning around recent 2-12 and 6-7 seasons, Kohlhafer would make sure his wrestlers received most of the attention or would credit the Buccaneers junior league program, run by Bob and Rick Couch, Mike Wilbourn and Grady and Rex Miller.

"But there was a different side of him at this pep rally we had," said Yocum, recounting how Kohlhafer gave an impassioned speech before appearing to dump a runner-up trophy -- actually an old baseball trophy -- into a trash can.

"He told everyone that second best wasn't good enough for us," Yocum said. "The way he presented it just incited the whole student body. It was a side of him you rarely see."

After the states, Kohlhafer said: "The student body was ecstatic. It's just been a great season, and I want to savor it because you just never know when it's going to come again."

Kohlhafer could have 10 starters back next year -- including six state qualifiers.

"I thought our kids wrestled better than anyone at the states," Kohlhafer said. "But I'm prejudiced."

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