Krumholtzes are brothers in strong arms

Wrestling: Mason and Kyle Krumholtz are different in many ways, but they share great talent on the mat and high rankings heading into this weekend's state tournament.

March 03, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Their mannerisms and physical appearance might be different, but the bond between the wrestling Krumholtz brothers, Mason and Kyle, is unwavering.

A smooth and composed wrestler and an accomplished A-average honors student, the 5-foot-11 Mason is a junior at Kenwood. The 16-year-old is ranked No. 1 by The Sun at 145 pounds.

Kyle, 18, competes for Overlea. The 5-6 senior is ranked No. 2 at 125 pounds and is the rebel with a fiery mat demeanor. He claims to have left behind a troubled past, even as he wears his corn-rowed "statement hair," as Mason calls it, beneath a nylon cap that bobs around as he wrestles.

"We're different in a lot of ways, but we get along fine," said Mason, a two-time regional champion who credits his brother for being "good at keeping me down to earth and being supportive when I wrestle."

Mason heard Kyle's voice above all others two weeks ago when he defeated Owings Mills' Mike Kessler for his second straight Baltimore County title.

"I'm more nervous about Mason's matches than I am about mine, to be honest," said Kyle, who won his first county title last weekend before finishing second in the regional. "We talk about who is better for sure, but with him being my little brother, of course I want him to do well."

The Krumholtz brothers will be among the 88 wrestlers who will compete at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House in this weekend's state tournament - Mason in Class 4A-3A and Kyle in Class 2A-1A.

Their teams have spent the past two weeks practicing together at Overlea.

"They're both looking really good," said Overlea's Dan Sexton, a state title contender at 152 pounds. "They push each other and make each other better - no doubt about it.`

Their father, Mike, 51, wrestled at Kenwood, and each of his sons entered high school as an accomplished alum of the Middle River program.

"We always went back and forth arguing about who was going to win what tournament first," said Mason, who is 33-0 this season. "He thinks he's better than me and vice versa. It's always a battle."

Mason was fifth in the state tournament last year, losing his semifinal bout by a point to the eventual champion. Kyle, 34-2 this season, came close several times as a 103-pound freshman. He finished second at regions and states - the latter after a 6-5 loss to Churchill's Danny April, who goes after his fourth state title this weekend.

Kenwood coach Rob Knudson said Kyle "was a terror in the room" as a freshman. "He worked harder and was just as talented mentally and athletically as anybody."

Two years later, Mason joined the program at Kenwood, which raised the intensity of wrestling room workouts, most notably between the siblings - Mason, a 130-pounder as a sophomore, and Kyle, a 119-pounder as a junior.

"It was heated every time they wrestled," Knudson said. "One would be screaming because he couldn't get away from the other one, or they'd get up shoving each other. It was like they hated one another. But outside of the room, they were brothers who truly loved each other."

Mason always encouraged Kyle to be more focused on his schoolwork, but his older brother's wild side already had begun to get the best of him. Truancy and academic ineligibility caused premature ends to Kyle's sophomore and junior seasons, the latter after having placed second at counties and first at regionals.

"Kyle started to get caught up with a bunch of guys in issues outside of school. It started to take over his life; he wasn't coming to school and got into trouble," said Knudson, a school policeman assigned to Kenwood. "Kyle's problem weren't his abilities - he's not a dumb kid - it was his choices. He made poor choices. Last year, he had been on a probationary period. So on the Monday after regions, the school said, `We've had enough.' "

Kyle was expelled from Kenwood, and then his parents sought a transfer to Overlea, the only Baltimore County school that offers a welding class that interested him.

"I needed to get away from some of the people I was hanging with," Kyle said. "I was hoping to make a change in myself, but in order to do that, I really needed a change of scenery."

Knudson said he made a call on Kyle's behalf to Overlea athletic director Bruce Malinowski, his former two-time state champion teammate at Kenwood in the late 1970s and the Falcons' former wrestling coach.

"I knew Bruce was a disciplinarian and that he would push Kyle," Knudson said. "And Kyle seemed more willing than ever to change."

Malinowski said the transfer first had to be approved by Overlea principal James Tanner, to whom Malinowski explained the circumstances of Krumholtz' past.

"I told him Kyle needed a change of venue and a better chance at graduating. I gave him my word that I would stay on top of [Kyle,]" said Malinowski, whose wrestling coaches are Sean Fleming and Elmer Dize. "[Tanner] saw the merit in what I was telling him and he approved it."

Kyle earned A's in summer school English and history at Chesapeake-Baltimore County before enrolling in Overlea in August. On pace to graduate, Kyle plans to attend The Apprentice School in Newport News, Va., a trade school whose students learn as paid interns. The school has a club wrestling program that competes for national titles.

"I owe a lot to Coach Knudson. In and out of wrestling, he was there for me the whole time," said Kyle. "Mr. Malinowski's the same way. Everyone at Overlea is supportive."

Kyle warns Mason not to lose focus of his goals, and Mason tells his brother to "follow his own advice."

"He's done better now," Mason said. "I just wish he had done it earlier."

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