Noon making the right moves

January 31, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

The longer Arundel's premier heavyweight wrestler watched, his intent appeared to grow slightly more purposeful and his gaze more malevolent.

Sitting in the stands during the Jan. 15 Arundel Invitational Tournament, John Noon's resentment boiled and nearly obscured the pain in his sprained ankle, which sidelined him for the tournament.

Noon, the Maryland State Wrestling Association's third-ranked heavyweight, was steaming as he watched an overtime 3-2 victory by Churchill's heavyweight, Bernie McShane, over DeMatha's Paul Fitzmaurice.

Noon had pinned Fitzmaurice while compiling last year's 29-4 record, in addition to beating another wrestler who had pinned McShane in the second period.

"Sitting here kind of bothers me, because that should be me out there," said Noon, whose 16-0 record, including 13 pins, seemed little consolation at the time.

"My goal is to win states, but there are a lot of guys out there. You don't want to look too far ahead, though. I beat a kid from Quince Orchard here last year, then I lost to him in the states. That whole last three weeks of the season, after losing counties, is something that motivates me."

That kind of talk is what coach Buddy Hepfer likes to hear, as No. 9 Arundel (8-2) heads into tonight's match with Noon back on the mats against five-time state champ Old Mill (10-2).

"John's right up there with the best I've ever had. He's a captain and he wrestles for the team," Hepfer said. "He's pretty dedicated and wrestles pretty smart. He shows he has a lot of guts, using his finesse and his leverage."

Said Noon: "I couldn't tell you what my favorite move is, I just react to what the other guy does. I know a lot of moves, which is probably good. I feel I have good balance also."

Noon, a senior at 6 feet 3, 235 pounds, is a far cry from the freshman who had to be convinced by two veterans to join the squad four years ago.

"I was in ninth grade and [state champ] Greg Booth and Pat Beach [third county], the heavyweight then, asked me to come out for wrestling," said Noon, also a standout on Arundel's 4A champion baseball team last spring.

"I wasn't going to do anything in the winter but get ready for baseball. I was only 189 pounds, and I was always getting beat up. I would get beat on in practice, but in the matches I was doing all right."

Noon placed fourth in the junior-varsity county tournament as a freshman, but suffered growing pains as a sophomore heavyweight. His early bouts that season were against Old Mill county champ Don Marco, who twice placed third in the 3A-4A state tournament, and Southern's county and state runner-up Rob Burley.

"I went to the counties, lost in the first round and lost in the first round of the regionals," said Noon. "I wasn't going to wrestle in my junior year, but Coach Hepfer caught me trying to duck him about a month before practice. He convinced me to give it another shot."

Bigger and stronger last year at 220 pounds, Noon racked up 15 victories without a loss. He attributed much of his success to the arrival of assistant coach John Miller, a heavyweight state champ in 1981 at Glen Burnie High.

"He came in at the end of my sophomore year right before counties and toughened me up. It got me used to wrestling heavier guys," Noon said. "I had gotten thrown around before, but I got a lot stronger because I started growing. I didn't really lift, just naturally got stronger."

Noon won the season-opening Meade tournament and was unbeaten heading into last year's Arundel Invitational, where his first defeat came by 6-4 to Justin Wethington (Oakland Mills), last year's Howard County champ. The loss damaged Noon's confidence somewhat, leading to runner-up finishes in both the county and region, and a first-round elimination in the state meet.

Last year's ending left Noon hungering for improvement, so he worked hard over the summer and even faced last year's 3A-4A state champ, Darrel Mance, the MSWA's No. 2-ranked heavyweight this year.

"Usually, I'm quicker than the guys I wrestle. But this guy was super quick, and he beat me like 10-3," Noon said. "It let me know what I have ahead of me, but I'm not looking too far ahead to states."

Noon has a formidable foe in his own back yard in last year's county champ, Corey Fowler of North County. Fowler (6-3, 240) became his school's first county champ by beating Noon a year earlier, but trails in the series, 5-1, including three losses this year.

"Beating Corey Fowler three times doesn't make up for anything," said Noon. "I still haven't won anything yet."

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