She had heard the comments before, but this time it was different.
Christina Bowman was being told by her Edgewood teammates that she was not welcome on the wrestling team.
"When I joined the team as a ninth grader, none of the boys wanted me there," said Bowman, a junior who was the first of three females on the Rams JV wrestling team. "They used to tell me that I [stunk] and that I needed to quit."
Upset but not ready to give in, Bowman asked Edgewood coach Darin Bokeno for permission to talk to the team. When she did, she stepped front and center carrying only a big box.
In the box, Bowman, whose dream is to wrestle for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) - formerly the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) - had figurines, magazines and autographed photos of some of her favorite WWE wrestlers.
"I just told them it was my dream to go to the Olympics, to wrestle in college and to become a professional wrestler," said Bowman, who talked about following in the footsteps of Kurt Angle, a WWE star who won a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics in freestyle wrestling. "Some of the guys made fun of it, but a lot of guys came up to me and told me to stick with it. They just wanted me to work harder."
Said Bokeno, who has had a girl on his team in each of his six seasons at Edgewood: "She let them know no matter what they said or what they did, she wasn't going to quit. And now she has a national ranking, which is more than any other Edgewood wrestler has."
Against boys, Bowman, 16, has a 10-8 record as a heavyweight for the Rams JV team, including a recent pin in Harford County's JV tournament.
When wrestling against girls in non-high school tournaments, Bowman is undefeated and ranked fourth in the nation among heavyweights by USA Wrestling Magazine.
Bowman, who is 5-foot-9 and weighs 226 pounds, likely would be on the Maryland state team that will head to Fargo, N.D., later this year for the nationals. However, stopping her is a recent rule by the United States Girls Wrestling Association establishing 179 as the maximum allowable weight for heavyweights.
In order for Bowman to compete, she would need to lose nearly 50 pounds in the upcoming months.
"It's a big challenge, but I have a lot of support," said Bowman, who will compete in the state indoor track and field championships later this month in the shot put.
That's a far cry from when Bowman started wrestling. She said some high school opponents intentionally forfeited to avoid facing a girl.
"I think everybody at school knows me as the girl that wrestles," she said. "But a lot of people think I'm a leader, too, because I paved the way for other girls to join the team."
Mariners make move
Maybe the Joppatowne boys basketball team should have expected this when they played conference-favorite Aberdeen tough before falling by seven earlier this season.
Still, some Mariners shocked even themselves in gaining revenge with a 67-58 win over the Eagles on Jan. 31.
"I still can't believe it," said Mariners leading scorer Brian Head, four days after the win. "I saw it in the paper the next morning, and I was like, `This can't be true.' "
Indeed it was. And so is a 12-game winning streak for the Mariners, who have not lost a game since falling to Edgewood on Dec. 17. They avenged that loss to the Rams with a 67-59 win on Tuesday. That, coupled with Bel Air's upset over Aberdeen on Wednesday, created a tie between the Eagles and Mariners (14-2 overall, 11-2 in the county) at the top of the county standings.
Coach Al Johnson's Mariners have a little of everything: a great scorer in Head (18 points per game); a leader in junior point guard Darrin Boswell (9.5 ppg., 4.7 assists per game); selfless role players in seniors Maurice Burrell and Stephen Penn; and a strong inside player in 6-4 senior Brian Selby, who averages about 10 points, 10 rebounds and four steals a game despite often being outsized.
"Ever since I've been on varsity, we've never won more than like 10 games, so my main goal was to help this team win," said Selby, who is first in the county in steals and second in rebounding. "Everybody on this team has a different role and I basically just try to do my part."
Fresh off undefeated regular seasons, the Havre de Grace boys and the C. Milton Wright girls are the favorites to bring home county swimming titles.
The county championships start tomorrow with the boys' preliminaries, followed by Tuesday's girls' preliminaries. The boys' finals are on Wednesday with the girls concluding matters on Thursday. All events begin at 5:45 p.m. at Magnolia Middle School.
There will be a boys team champion, a girls team champion and an overall team champion, based on the number of points accrued by each individual team.
C. Milton Wright has won four of the past five overall team titles, but will face tough tests from Fallston, Bel Air and Havre de Grace.
Boys medal threats include: Bel Air's Chris Houvener, Zach Schmalzer and Tom Lovett; C. Milton Wright's Josh Knight, Steven Bane and Eric Hanfman; Fallston's Matt Colly and Kevin Killeen; Havre de Grace's Kyle North, Kurt LaPaglia, Chris Walters and David Tobin; Joppatowne's Tommy Wimmer and North Harford's Tim Falkner and Rory Scott.
Among the top girls are: Bel Air's Betsy Balaguer and Meghan Rhoads; C. Milton Wright's Patty Rawlick, Amanda Barnes, Amanda Collier, Maureen McLaughlin and Shannon Dunnigan; Fallston's Lauren Iman and Abby Proutt; Harford Tech's Danielle Kelly; Havre de Grace's Britta Nelson, Liz Schafer and Shelly Tobin; Joppatowne's Kara Mills and North Harford Abby Zerhusen.