Southern's Neal builds on father's foundation Blueprint for success: Tyrone Neal Jr. continues his family's tradition of winning wrestling championships.

February 11, 1996|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

As part of a class, Tyrone Neal Jr. designed the foundation of a house, the blueprint of which was actually used by a neighbor.

And someday, Neal likely will pursue a career geared toward building homes, even communities. But for now, the Southern senior wrestler's concentrating on his own back yard.

Older brother, Sherrard, now at the Naval Academy, had the right combination of a solid academic background and a county title won as a 140-pound senior.

Tyrone Jr. is similarly equipped, having maintained a 3.0 grade average over tough courses such as honors physics, analytic geometry, pre-calculus and advanced English.

"College is my major focus. That, and improving my wrestling for the college level," said Neal, Maryland's No. 1 140-pounder with a 22-1 record (10 pins).

The three-time region champ is looking hardest at Lehigh's civil engineering program and Drexel's architecture curriculum. Also being considered are Columbia, East Stroudsberg and Penn.

"I like building and drawing things," said Neal, "but with anything you build, the foundation has to be strong."

Neal's foundation came from his coach and father, Tyrone Sr., complemented by 6 1/2 years in the junior leagues. Last year, Neal (35-0, 27 pins) won his second 1A-2A state title, tying a school record established by his father in 1970 and '71.

Tyrone Sr., a lieutenant at the Baltimore City Correction Center who began wrestling in ninth grade at old Southern High of Lothian, now admits -- albeit reluctantly -- his son "may be a better wrestler."

Tyrone Sr., in his sixth season coaching Southern, wrestled for two years at Montgomery-Rockville College, winning the junior college nationals twice. The next two years at Maryland, he won consecutive ACC titles, capped by a seventh-place finish in the 1975 NCAA tournament that earned him All-American honors.

"I didn't have as much junior league experience to develop to the point that Tyrone has. My abilities were a gift, but so are Tyrone's," Tyrone Sr. said.

Tyrone Jr. had a 55-bout winning streak heading into the season-opening Annapolis Tournament, where a third straight title eluded him.

Altoona's Jeremy Hite scored an overtime takedown to win, 3-1, handing Neal his first loss since a freshman state runner-up finish to Randallstown's two-time state champ Gary Harris (30-0).

"I was pretty disappointed after that match, but it probably helped me more than hurt me," said Neal, who has won 19 straight since then. "You could say it was a wake-up call."

Most times, however, it is Neal who is on the winning side. His 113-11 career record includes big wins over Maryland Scholastic Association champs Russell Fecteau and David Inkman, graduates of Mount St. Joseph, state runner-up Jason Nagle, a Centennial graduate, and No. 2 state champ Chaiyana Black, now at Prince George's County's Frederick Douglass.

Others he's vanquished are private school state runner-up Dan Mattson (Mount St. Joseph, 140), No. 3 two-time state runner-up Bobby Mann (Damascus, 145), No. 2 Jeremy Lignelli (Glenelg, 152), No. 3 Jay Queer (Northeast) and No. 2 Lonnie Donner (Broadneck).

"I can still teach him a few things, but right now, I'd put Tyrone up against anybody," said Tyrone Sr.

"He's got a good command of the basic things that work in high school, now it's just a matter of adding the finishing touches for his college future."

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