Icy inactivity takes toll on Aberdeen's lightweights

January 26, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

There was more moaning and groaning than usual in area wrestling rooms in recent days, as athletes struggled to pare off unwanted pounds that had appeared during some 10 days of snow-related inactivity.

While coaches talked of the daily work that should have been done, those who had neglected it were sweating. This was true especially in the lower weights, with wrestlers who are down to muscle still needing to lose pounds.

Two Aberdeen veterans, senior Kevin Carter and sophomore James Axel, are cases in point. Both are in the reducing routine simply because they are wrestling down from what might be a more normal weight.

"Cutting weight is always a problem," said Carter (10-1), Aberdeen's defending Harford County 103-pound champion. "It's hard for me because I am small and it doesn't come off easily."

Formerly ranked No. 6 in the state, he was replaced in the latest listings by Rickey Smith of North East, who came from behind to beat Carter in the closing seconds of a dual-meet pairing, 6-5.

Axel is considered a 112-pounder, although he has three wins at 119. He was listed to wrestle at 112 in a recent tri-meet at Fallston, and the day before he was saying he had to lose seven pounds. "It doesn't kill me to get to 112, but I am a little run down," he said.

Against Fallston, Carter earned a 7-0 decision over Tory DellaMea at 103, and Axel recorded a first-period pin against Mike Strobel at 112. Both won by forfeit against Havre de Grace. Each added two more wins earlier this week.

Carter is the key wrestler in what is, for Aberdeen, an unusual situation. Over the past 24 years, coach Dick Slutzky had groups outstanding seniors and juniors who picked up Harford County, regional and state titles in bunches, helping produce the current streak of 11 county titles.

This year, most team members are freshmen and sophomores, joined by juniors and seniors with limited experience.

"We can't compete at the highest level," said Slutzky, "but we do have potential, and a lot of young guys who are winning [some matches].

"We have wrestlers trying to get better, but this weather kills our practice times. We have to make up meets, losing the time when the younger ones could be learning."

Of the coach, Carter said, "What I've done is all because of him. I didn't come out until my sophomore year and he has taught me everything."

Axel has a background of lifting weights when he was in middle school, and is now combining strength with more moves.

"I'm better in the third period than before," he said. "Then, I would give up when behind, but now I have come from behind to win one match, and almost won another."

The "almost" turned out to be his only loss in 10 matches, a 7-6 overtime decision by Archbishop Curley's Tony Diem, 15-2 (10 ++ pins) at the time.

As two of the team's best wrestlers, Carter and Axel feel a certain amount of pressure leading off in meets.

"You want to set the team off on a good note, because they see you win and they get psyched," said Carter. Axel agreed that it gets the others pumped up, but, "If you go out there and lose, they get nervous."

Aberdeen won the John Carroll tournament, was third in its own tournament, and has a 6-1 dual-meet record.

All of which prompts Slutzky to say, "With the weather, we are where we can be, which is different from where we want to be."

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