Sibling protector

Not only is Tony Mack a regional champion wrestler at Owings Mills, but his sister and two brothers look up to him as their everyday leader


February 14, 2007|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Reporter

Carrie Mack describes her great-grandson, Owings Mills standout wrestler Tony Mack, as "an obedient, trustworthy child."

He "is a child of few words," she said, "but you see what he represents in his actions."

Her husband, Earl Mack, chooses less-flowery language. "My wife, she's soft on Tony. She'll say, `You did all right,' but I'll say, `No you didn't -- you didn't win.' I know my child. I know what he's capable of. I've watched Tony wrestle, make mistakes, and I get on him about it."

The collective support and tough love of Carrie and Earl Mack have helped Tony, 16, and his three younger siblings emerge triumphant from potential devastation. The Macks have raised their four great-grandchildren since their births.

"It's through God's grace and mercy that, as they were born, we were able to take them in, feeling it was best to raise them because of my granddaughter's age," said Carrie Mack, 63, whose granddaughter, Kim Wright, gave birth to Tony when she was 13. "Tony's the oldest, and the protective leader. We don't have to be around to know he'll take care of his siblings."

Tony Mack has done so while also taking care of business on the mat, as the junior is favored to win the Class 2A-1A state crown at 145 pounds. A returning Baltimore County and Class 2A-1A North regional champion and 2A-1A state runner-up, Mack is 28-0 with 18 pins after Thursday's North regional dual meet tournament.

Mack is named after his grandfather, who was killed in a car accident in 1976 at the age of 17.

"My son, my sister, my nephew and my sister's boyfriend all died together in that car," said Carrie Mack, adding that Wright often comes to watch Tony wrestle. "We have a great relationship with her. We're one big family. [Kim] wasn't even born when his grandfather passed away. It's something Tony's known about all of his life. And it's something he's come to terms with."

Called "a great brother" and "great wrestler" by 10-year-old Isaiah Mack, Tony Mack considers it "very important" to be a role model and confidant to his siblings.

"It's good for them to see my personality and good grades," said Mack, who carries a 3.23 cumulative grade point average

"Tony's a good brother, a good wrestler, a good friend," said his sister Tenia, 15. "Around school, he's a lot of things to different people. But around the house, to me, he's just Tony."

Said Tony's brother, Warren, 12: "One time, I was mad and said I hated someone who beat me [in wrestling]. Tony said, `You're not supposed to hate.' Some people, you share something, they criticize. Tony mostly listens and takes it in."

As a 119-pound freshman, Tony Mack finished second in the county and regional tournaments before placing third at states. Last year, Mack won county and regional titles before losing his 130-pound state final, 3-1, to Harford Tech's three-time finalist Mike Long.

This season, Mack has earned Outstanding Wrestler plaques for beating Woodlawn regional champion Justin Wildy in the final of the Parkville Invitational; and for his win over Atholton's third-place state finisher, Ryan Conroy, in the final of the Perry Hall Invitational. Mack also edged Winters Mill's Tim Crocken, a third-place finisher at states, in the final of the Franklin Invitational.

But Earl Mack remains Tony Mack's toughest critic.

"Tony could have won states, but he didn't start wrestling until near the end of the match, but by then, it was too late," said Earl Mack, 70. "I'm not a wrestler, but I know Tony would beat that boy if he had gone all out."

In the upcoming county tournament, which begins Friday, Mack will face perhaps his most difficult opponent of the season in Dulaney's once-beaten Matt Jacobs, who won county and regional crowns last year and placed third at 4A-3A states, all at 135 pounds.

Considered a favorite to win the 4A-3A title at 145 pounds, Jacobs is a master at leg-riding -- a method of tying up a rival's legs with one's own while working for the fall.

"My goal is to go undefeated, and that means winning states," said Mack, whose county weight class includes Wildy and Pikesville's sixth-ranked Mitchell Steinberg. "I consider Jacobs a step up, and I'm looking forward to wrestling him."

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