Gerstenfeld puts foes in quick fix

January 27, 1995|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

The key to success for Wilde Lake wrestler Carlo Gerstenfeld lies in his cat-like stealth, and his ability to change speeds in a match -- this despite being 5-foot-9 1/2 and weighing 235 pounds.

"I'm lighter and smaller than most everyone I wrestle," said Gerstenfeld, who bench-presses 315 pounds. "But I'm usually as strong as they are, and speed kills, along with endurance. If I keep spinning behind on takedowns and can ride a guy, they usually tire in the end."

Those factors were no more apparent than in Gerstenfeld's most recent match, a 14-5 title bout victory over Great Mill's 270-pound Brian Schulteis at last weekend's South River Tournament.

Gerstenfeld led, 2-0, after an early takedown. But in trying to turn Schulteis to his back, Gerstenfeld briefly lost his balance and was rolled to his own back for a five-point reversal and trailed, 5-2, for the only time in the bout.

But on the restart, the referee's whistle scarcely had been blown before Gerstenfeld had escaped to his feet, turned and spun behind the fast-fading Schulteis -- who was still on his knees -- for a 6-5 lead. Gerstenfeld later scored nine back points and shut out Schulteis.

"Carlo is tireless. Once he's moving, he really can wear out a kid," said Wilde Lake coach Richard Jackson. "He works very hard, lifting weights two or three times a week. He runs like a deer and does a lot of things on his own besides practice."

Gerstenfeld went 25-8 last year, dropping his regional title bout, 5-3, to Rockville's two-time state champ Andy Stroud.

At the states, he lost a 5-1 quarterfinal decision to Overlea's Mike Knoedler, an eventual state runner-up, and a 9-6 consolation bout to Parkside's Mike Malone, the eventual third-place finisher.

Gerstenfeld, ranked No. 6 in Maryland, shed 15 pounds from what he weighed last season, which was more suitable for football as a three-year starting lineman.

Jackson compares Gerstenfeld favorably with past Wilde Lake heavyweights such as Gerstenfeld's predecessor, county champ Cornell Johnson (240 pounds), who placed third in the state, and county champ George Collins (230 pounds) who was fourth at states.

Yet neither was as quick as Gerstenfeld (19-1), who has 11 pins this season and tournament titles at South River and at Arundel. His only loss this season came by 3-1 in the Chopticon Tournament title bout to Einstein's 275-pound Frank Rodrigues, whom Gerstenfeld beat by the same score in last year's regionals.

The attitude, said Gerstenfeld, is born of "getting [beat] over the years" in matches and in practice, the latter by 171-pound Mike Green, a state champ last year, and 189-pound Nate Casella, who was fourth in the states two years ago.

"As a freshman, Nate and Mike got me to come out for the team. I didn't win on varsity, but I was undefeated on jayvee," said Gerstenfeld.

Being pinned by past Oakland Mills wrestlers, two-time state champ Monte Spencer as a freshman, and county champ Justin Wethington as a sophomore, also serve as sources of motivation. Those, and last year's county final loss to Hammond's Pedro Barbosa, whom Gerstenfeld had beaten twice before.

"I slacked off against Barbosa, so he deserved to win," said Gerstenfeld. "I lost to another guy from Hammond, Jimmy Jackson, in the county semifinals my sophomore year. I haven't had great luck with Hammond guys."

Ironically, two Hammond wrestlers -- members of the county's Head Hunters wrestling club -- are Gerstenfeld's best practice partners. They are Chris Williams, a state champ at 152 pounds last year, and Jimmy Weston, who is down at 171 after winning a county title at 189 last season.

"It's good for me. I'm in better shape and I have better conditioning," said Gerstenfeld. "Overall, I'm a better wrestler."

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