Crossing all boundaries Close-knit group: Owings Mills' wrestling team, aiming for its fourth state crown, has made "teamwork" more than just a word.

February 29, 1996|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Owings Mills won its fourth Baltimore County and region crowns this year, and sends 12 wrestlers to this weekend's 1A-2A state tournament at Western Maryland College.

A victory would rank the No. 4 Eagles (18-1) with six-time 3A-4A champ Old Mill as the only Maryland programs to have won four state crowns, but perhaps no team has ever boasted the Eagles' cross-cultural, socio-economic uniqueness.

They're a blend of late-blooming seniors, such as regional champs Shaun Andoll (160, 23-8) and Willie Broadnax (28-3), and experienced freshmen, such as Billy Miller (112, 25-4) and Drew Bowers (28-3), county and region runners-up.

Then there are senior Erik Walder (103, 25-7) and junior Ari Dolid (135, 29-3). Walder scored 1,180 on his Scholastic Assessment Test, sports a shoulder-length pony tail and prefers rap, club and heavy-metal music -- "no country." Dolid, a 3.85 student, scored 1,220, has neatly groomed hair, wears glasses and likes classical music -- "no rap."

"Nick Nolte [140 pounds] is a snow-boarder, Ari plays the piano and does ballet," said Walder, a 3.25 student. "The differences are interesting, offering other perspectives that make us closer."

Guy Pritzker, 41, wrestled at Milford Mill under coach John Lowe, and at Towson State until 1976. But all he'll say about his own upbringing is, "It taught me to reach out to kids in general.

"Kids from upper class to Section-8 housing, blacks, whites, Jews, have all been wrestling partners, accentuating the positives on great teams formed of different cultures," said Pritzker, who assists in Owings Mills' junior league program.

Broadnax (171, 28-3), who is black, is the team leader and ambassador. "We take pride in showing unity and a family-like bond in public, always looking out for each other," Broadnax said.

The family corporation of Danny Selnick (130, 20-12), a 3.9 student, sells electronics all over the East Coast. "I have money DTC to do things, buy things. But driving to school, I mostly give teammates rides home or to the gym to lose weight," Selnick said.

Since his father's death when he was 5, heavyweight Anthony Smith (32-1), an All-City/County football lineman, has relied on his mother's support. He works part-time at Sizzler's restaurant "so my mother doesn't have to worry much about paying for my food, clothes.

"This team is family," said Smith, a junior who shares a B-average with Broadnax, Andoll, Nolte and junior Haden Myers (152, 17-14). "I think about my father when other kids' fathers are at matches, but I can go to Pritzker with problems."

Dolid recently came to the aid of teammate Steve Kellner (125, 28-5). "I was struggling in physics, which Ari's good at, so he told my mom he could help me," Dolid said. "I've improved a couple of letter grades because of him."

As individual problems become team concerns, individual glory -- such as the 105-0 record of two-time state champ Steve Kessler (145) -- becomes team success. "When one wins, they're all happy," county athletics coordinator Ron Belinko once said of the Eagles. "That's what makes a championship team."

A Pritzker ritual will prevail on the bus ride to the states. "The kids'll be laughing, joking, having fun, and I'll turn around and say, 'Gentlemen, cherish this moment: You may never have it again.' "

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