Truitt makes all the right moves

January 05, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Steve Truitt spent his summer getting bullied, with his tormentor -- and mentor -- being former All-American wrestler Andre Miller, a Wilkes (Pa.) College graduate.

"I wrestled Andre all summer. He weighs about 170 pounds and I was up to about 148," said Truitt, an All-Metro 135-pound wrestler for St. Paul's.

"We lifted weights four to five times a week, which I attribute to my having gotten stronger. Now, as opposed to last year, I can go for the big moves."

That was apparent in his season-opening match, which ended with his first fall of the year in 2 minutes, 33 seconds in the first round of the Maryland Invitational tournament at Archbishop Curley.

It was the first of eight pins for Truitt (14-0) this year, including six in the first period. A year ago, he had just 12 pins and two technical falls over a 34-4 season.

Truitt is ranked co-No. 1 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association -- tied with Francis Scott Key's defending state champ Randy Owings. He also has victories over three quality opponents.

The first big win came in the semifinals of the Maryland Invitational by 4-2 over Mount St. Joseph's No. 3 Tyran Dungee, a Maryland Scholastic Association champ at 130 last year. Then, in an overtime title bout victory, Truitt edged DeMatha's then-No. 1 Jerry Sloan, who was third in last year's National Prep tournament.

"I was a little worried against Tyran, but when I beat him, that was a confidence builder," said Truitt, who has wrestled since third grade on junior-league teams that included Randallstown's defending state champ Gary Harris and Owings Mills' three-time state champs Grant Johnson and Greg Kessler.

"Sloan's really good on his feet," Truitt said. "But I knew if I kept him away from me, I could beat him."

In the title bout of the Dec. 17-18 John Carroll tournament, Truitt downed Aberdeen's defending county champ, Frank Johnson, 9-4, after being an overtime tournament runner-up in each of the two previous seasons.

St. Paul's coach Desi McNelis prefers Truitt's propensity to end his matches quicker, as opposed to last year, when Truitt -- 5-foot-11 -- relied heavily on conditioning, leverage and technique to survive tough bouts.

His leadership and prowess have been just what is needed for the No. 13 Crusaders.

"This year, Steve's stronger, more aggressive," said McNelis. "And he's become a pinner."

Truitt's title bout for last year's 125-pound MSA crown was typical of many of his matches. He barely won, 3-2, over Boys' Latin's Mike Harrison after finishing fourth and third in the MSA the two previous seasons.

Only when pushed to the brink -- as in breaking a tie in his MSA semifinal bout with city champ Paul Johnson (Northern) -- did Truitt score a pin last season.

"Last year, he'd dominate a match, but he'd only win by a few points," McNelis said. "His offense was lacking and conservative, so he relied more on defense. He's still virtually flawless defensively, but the fact that he's opening up more has made him more successful."

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