Identical records, different approach

Liberty's Gervie, Jennings will bring both to tourney

Wrestling

High Schools

February 17, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

At 135 and 189 pounds, respectively, juniors Crit Jennings and Brandon Gervie are at opposite ends of the Liberty wrestling team's lineup. Their styles also differ, with Gervie being more defense-oriented, and Jennings more offensive.

But there's one thing they share: identical 27-0 records heading into Saturday's Carroll County Tournament at North Carroll.

"Each of us pushes the other one," said Jennings, whose team is 18-6. "Being co-captains this year, we feel a responsibility to lead the team. One of the best ways to do that is to keep on winning."

The Class 2A-1A West Regional and 2A-1A state tournaments will fast approach after the counties. And beyond this weekend, the two wrestlers have a goal of achieving honors similar to those of graduated teammate Chris De Vilbiss.

Last year, De Vilbiss went 35-0 and became Liberty's fourth state champion. The Lions' other state champions were Bob Hundertmark (1986), Louis Harmel (1988) and Kevin Jeffress (1997).

But never have two Liberty wrestlers earned state titles in the same season.

"It would be really cool if we could both go undefeated," Gervie said. "But even if I were to lose a match or two before states it wouldn't matter - as long as I win a state title in the end."

Gervie, who is the more experienced of the two wrestlers with seven years on the mats compared to Jennings' three, began wrestling in fifth grade with the Warriors youth program in Sykesville.

Over the past two seasons combined, Gervie has placed third at counties, second at regions and fifth at states. Last season, he went 29-4 with 19 pins.

Jennings, meanwhile, was persuaded to wrestle during his ninth-grade year by coach Mike Fleming and by Gervie, his former classmate at Oklahoma Road Middle School.

Jennings accepted their invitations, but with no prior experience in organized sports, he struggled.

Jennings was 16-15 as a freshman and 17-16 as a sophomore. He pinned 20 of his opponents, but he also was decked 14 times.

Jennings did not participate in wrestling camps or offseason workouts to improve. Instead, he looked within himself.

"It's all in my attitude," Jennings said. "It's just all in my head."

But Jennings also credits Gervie, as both draw inspiration from the other through friendly competition.

"One of our contests is to see who can stay undefeated the longest," Jennings said. "The other one is to see who can pin his guy the fastest."

Gervie has both the most falls - with 20 to Jennings' 10 - and the swiftest pin - with an 11-second fall to Jennings' 12.

But Gervie said the real measure of their success came during what he called their "statement matches."

For Jennings, there was an 8-7 decision over North Carroll's Tyler MacLeod - a wrestler who is feared for his powerful cradle-pinning hold - and a 3-2 victory over Francis Scott Key 140-pounder Shane Eyler.

Gervie, meanwhile, defeated an old junior league foe in Damascus' John Cross, 18-8. Gervie's other important win was a pin of Francis Scott Key's Luke Schuster, a fourth-place finisher at last year's state tournament against whom Gervie had built a huge lead.

There could be rematches Saturday. And as usual, Jennings and Gervie will take different approaches to achieve similar results.

"It's remarkable how well Crit is doing," Gervie said. "But it's even better that we're doing it together."

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