After pair of 2nds, he's hurtin' for title Wrestling: Arundel's Isaac Haertel hopes to be a Navy SEAL, but before taking on that challenge, a state championship would be nice, he says. After all, he's been so close -- twice.

February 21, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Arundel's Isaac Haertel is a no-nonsense wrestler whose punishing style, like his thinking as a three-year All-County interior lineman in football, goes straight to the point.

Football "is organized violence. You get to inflict pain on people," said the 18-year-old Haertel, who enlisted in the Navy last fall and hopes to become a SEAL, explaining: "I very much like the physical aspect."

Haertel, who has played football for 11 years and wrestled for eight, has "put a hurtin'" on plenty of wrestling opponents in his high school career. He's 106-14 over four seasons with 66 pins.

As the first Arundel wrestler to finish second at states twice, Haertel (28-1, 20 pins) could become the Wildcats' first three-time state place-winner.

"I'm proud of finishing second, but it's nothing compared to being first," said Haertel, who scored a 3.0 on his last report card and 1,270 on his Scholastic Assessment Test. "I'd give up all my accomplishments to win states."

Last Saturday, Haertel had two pins to help No. 2 Arundel (18-0), ranked No. 7 in the state, beat LaPlata in the semifinal and then Westminster in the title match for the Class 4A-3A state duals title. His pin against Westminster put the Wildcats up permanently.

"He's a team leader who just goes after things. Everybody depends on him," said coach Buddy Hepfer, who in 27 years is 247-86-5 in dual meets. "He's not the most gifted wrestler I've had, but he's earned it. He practices hard -- works out hard."

Looking to become the Wildcats' first four-time champ at the Arundel Holiday Invitational in December, Haertel was tripped up, 8-7, by North County's WT Aye. Haertel, ranked No. 6 in the state, later whipped Aye, 15-5.

"The loss made me realize I was wrestling not to lose," Haertel said. "Now, I'm back to going after people." Haertel went after Prince George's County champ Andre Butler, built a 5-0 lead, then decked the Douglass wrestler.

"I remembered [Butler] was strong on his feet, trying to muscle me around. It made me angry, but it was a focused anger," Haertel said.

Haertel went 26-2 last year with 17 pins, earning second-team All-Metro honors. His only losses a year ago were by 6-3 to DeMatha's Rob Alexander -- a private school state champ and National Prep champ -- and by fall in the state finals to Damascus' Randy Pickett.

Pickett (30-1) shared the state's No. 2 ranking with Haertel and had suffered his only loss, 4-3, to Alexander. But Pickett dominated Haertel, leading 8-0 before pinning him in 5: 16.

"I went in mentally unprepared," Haertel said. "I allowed myself to be intimidated."

As a 145-pound sophomore, Haertel seemed fearless.

He overcame a 6-3 deficit for a 10-8 victory over Gerald Bustamante (St. Benedict's, of Newark, N.J.), who had finished third at the previous year's National Preps. At states, Haertel handed Frederick's John Harper (30-1) his first loss, 13-6, in the -- quarterfinals. And in his 8-6 semifinal victory over Perry Hall's Baltimore County champ Rich Hanzevack, Haertel overcame a 6-1 deficit with a five-point throw within the final eight seconds of regulation.

That set up his fourth meeting with Old Mill's Mike DiLeonardi, whom he'd twice lost to by three points and once by five. A runner-up in the county and region tournaments to DiLeonardi, Haertel fell, 8-6 -- in overtime.

"I was driven as a sophomore, because I didn't place in regions or go to states in ninth grade," said Haertel, who was 22-5 as a freshman. "I just want to peak at the right time, so when it comes to the states, nothing can stop me."

Pub Date: 2/21/97

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