Leanos-led Dulaney suddenly a wrestling force

January 18, 1995|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

Dulaney coach Pete Chakmakas says his best wrestler, Alex Leanos, has the sort of discipline a high school coach is fortunate to see maybe once in his career.

Leanos scored 1,250 on the Scholastic Assessment Test and carries a 3.85 grade-point average in advance-placement courses, being particularly proud of his A average in Calculus III. He'd like to attend the Naval Academy, where he would likely major in electrical engineering or physics.

The square-jawed athlete already sports the hard look of a young officer, having hoisted weights since sixth grade.

"I like the chiseled look," said Leanos, whose maximum bench press is 260 pounds. "Weightlifting's a hobby. It's fun. You can do it every day if you don't use the same routine."

There is one routine that Leanos likes perhaps even better -- winning wrestling matches.

And he's had no problem with that this season.

Leanos is 16-0 with nine pins and a technical fall heading into this weekend's Overlea Tournament, in which he was first last year and third the year before.

"His technique is more solid and he's in top condition," said Chakmakas.

"You don't see kids like him very often. He works harder than any kid I've ever coached."

Though ranked No. 1 at 135, this weekend Leanos is dropping down to 130 pounds.

At that weight last year, he went 32-3, finishing runner-up in the county for the second straight year, regional champion and 3A-4A state runner-up -- his only losses coming by decision to eventual state champions.

Gary Harris, Randallstown's two-time state champ, now at West Virginia, beat Leanos, 7-2, in a dual-meet match. Owings Mills' Steve Kessler, the state's first freshman to go undefeated, edged Leanos, 3-1, in the county title bout. Frederick's Tim Novak downed Leanos, 8-4, for his second 3A-4A state crown.

This season, Novak is ranked No. 3 at 140 and Kessler No. 2 at 145.

Leanos' record since his sophomore year includes a third straight title at Pikesville and his second at Aberdeen after being runner-up the previous season.

Despite his success, Leanos prefers praising his teammates' progress.

"I think the team's done a lot better than I have personally. And when you're part of a good team, it makes it all more worthwhile," said Leanos, who worked out daily this past summer and wrestled up to three times a week.

"After having losing records, my teammates have just come out of nowhere. They're always behind each other emotionally, and I'm just glad to be a member of a team like this."

But Leanos has been a catalyst on a squad that has gone from losing 12 of 14 matches last year to an 8-1 record and a No. 15 ranking among area teams this season. The Lions (6-0 in the county) got their first-ever victory over then-No. 13 Eastern Technical last week.

Along with the rest of the Dulaney team, Leanos went to a summer camp at George Mason University. And he wrestled with the Maryland junior national team in North Dakota.

But unlike last year, when he wrestled for himself as Dulaney kept losing, Leanos said, "I'm not just working for my own victory; I'm helping the team."

Dulaney began the season by winning a tournament -- Pikesville's -- for the first time in school history. And Chakmakas credits assistants Tom Merashoff and Kenny Gendason for giving personal instruction to the nearly 50 wrestlers in the room.

There is plenty of depth with underclassmen such as freshmen Tom McGinley (103, 11-5) and Pat Kopalchick (140, 14-2), sophomores Ben Bulloch (119, 10-5) and Scott Kopalchick (152, 12-3) and juniors Aslan Ettehadieh (112, 11-5), Brian D'Anna (145, 10-2) and Damon Holmes (160, 12-4).

Half of last season's 12 losses came by six points or less, but Dulaney no longer is a doormat.

"Before, if you had a Dulaney wrestling jacket, there would be places you wouldn't want to wear it," said Leanos. "But now it's something to be proud of."

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