No matter what, Western Tech senior Tony Simuel always found a way to contribute to one of the teams for which the three-sport standout played.
While having most of his success in wrestling, where he had 43 wins his senior year and qualified for the state tournament for a second straight season, Simuel also proved valuable for the football and lacrosse squads.
Although his 2012 football season was marred by injury when he ruptured a fluid sack behind his knee, the captain, who played outside linebacker and wide receiver as a junior, was mostly relegated to special teams.
“You would not believe how much it hurt not to play all over, but you have to take my knees out to stop me from playing,” said Simuel, who praised his coach for protecting the knee for wrestling season. “I thank him for that.”
In his senior lacrosse season, he returned to his natural position of long-stick midfield, after playing two years all over the field, including much of his junior year as goalie.
His hard work and dedication helped the Lansdowne resident earn the Arbutus Times Male Athlete of the Year award.
It was on the wrestling mat where Simuel made the greatest strides.
“He was a very special kid. You don’t see that kind of kid every year,” coach Jay Solera said.
Solera, who came to the program when Simuel was a junior, saw a unique wrestling style that did not need changing.
“He was the captain of his own ship, but he certainly did what worked for him,” Solera said. “He was very unorthodox, and I like the fact that he was unorthodox.”
Two years in a row, he qualified at 152 pounds for the state tournament at College Park, and in his senior season, he was one of a school-record seven Western Tech grapplers to qualify for the state tournament.
“Tony was a captain of the team, so some of the credit has to go to him leading the charge,” Solera said.
As a junior, Simuel upset the top-seeded wrestler in the first round of the regional tournament and earned his state tournament berth by placing second overall.
That was the proudest moment of a four-year varsity career that boasts 99 victories.
He attributes a talk from coach Solera before the regional tournament that helped turn a .500 season into a highly successful one.
Moreover, his leadership as a senior pushed Western Tech’s 2012 state champion Tejon Anthony to his second consecutive Baltimore County crown in 2013.
“We all push each other in practice and I wrestle Tony in practice all the time and we both go at it,” said Anthony (37-6), who won at 132 pounds, then watched Simuel finish as county runner-up at 152 as the Wolverines finished fifth at the county meet.
He lost to Owings Mills’ Antwan Reddick in the Baltimore County championship final, but dealt with it positively.
“He was always on the upside of things, win or lose, in five minutes, he was going to be joking,” Solera said. “He let things roll off his shoulders pretty easily.”
That was tougher during football season when he played hurt for coach Alan Lagon, who nominated Simuel for the prestigious Unsung Hero Award at the McCormick Unsung Hero banquet early last month.