Carnahan's contributions earn him special honors

Howard Sports

March 06, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Steve Carnahan called it a nostalgic moment, and said he was incredibly honored to be in an elect group of folks who have made a key difference in the sport.

He was lauded formally Saturday before the state wrestling finals at Western Maryland College by being named to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's Wrestling Hall of Fame.

MPSSAA Executive Secretary Ned Sparks, who was varsity wrestling coach at Howard when Carnahan started coaching at Oakland Mills, presented him with a plaque, and Carnahan had the honor of presenting awards to the state champions, along with another 1996 Hall of Fame entrant, Buddy Hepfer of Arundel.

Begun in 1975, the Hall of Fame includes about 30 individuals important to the sport at the high school level.

Carnahan, 47, coached wrestling for 17 seasons at Oakland Mills. His teams won 10 county championships, five regional tiles and three state titles.

He coached 50 individual county champions, and 12 individuals who won state championships.

More importantly, he was an innovative coach who could make a grueling sport fun. And he was an especially caring coach who was held in highest esteem, not only by his own wrestlers but by his opponents.

Wrestling is a sport that makes incredible demands upon coaches, extending as it does through the long winter months and encompassing Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and many weekends.

Carnahan's first retirement from the sport came after 14 seasons. After four years off, he was coaxed back for three more seasons and then retired again.

Carnahan, the special education department chairman, had the normal love-hate relationship with the sport. He loved the sport, but hated the long practices and time away from his family. But he hung around long enough to make a lasting contribution.

You can tell his former wrestlers had good experiences under Carnahan, because many of them are still involved with the sport.

The current Oakland Mills coach, Brian Chadwick, was one of his wrestlers. Mike Anderson, the Wilde Lake assistant coach, also wrestled for Carnahan, as did Calvert High assistant coach Mark Wilding and Western Maryland College assistant coach Scott Hunt.

Jeff Rosenberg coaches at a school in Philadelphia, and Darrell Gough was a former assistant coach at Howard.

Dan Rosenberg and Vince Thomas are wrestling referees.

Carnahan's nomination to the Hall of Fame was made by John Lowe, a faculty member at Oakland Mills, who is Western Maryland College's varsity wrestling coach.

"They kept this quiet and went about it with a little subterfuge," Carnahan said. "He [Lowe] told me he needed my photo and a list of accomplishments for a one-day wrestling clinic I was going to participate in at Western Maryland." Instead, that information was used for the state wrestling program.

Carnahan is the first person with Howard County connections to go into the Hall of Fame.

He joins such illustrious names as Lloyd Keyser of Brooklyn Park, who was a silver medalist in the Olympics, and Irv Pankey of Aberdeen, who played pro football for the Los Angeles Rams.

A graduate of Springbrook High and the University of Maryland, Carnahan still coaches cross country at Oakland Mills. And if they have a cross country Hall of Fame, he will also be in that one someday.

In 16 seasons of coaching cross country, his teams have won eight state titles, 11 regional titles and 11 county titles.

"Beyond his technical expertise, he's just a great motivator, not just with the wrestling program, but with anything he does," said Earl Lauer, former Atholton wrestling coach who graduated from Springbrook with Carnahan. "His wrestling accomplishments have overshadowed his cross country accomplishments."

Pub Date: 3/06/96

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