There's little that wrestler Tyler Mullen hasn't accomplished during his four-year career at South Carroll. With the postseason looming, however, the 171-pound senior is intensely focused on attaining the one honor that has eluded him -- a state title.
Perhaps that's why Mullen was so surprised to recently learn that he was on the cusp of Carroll County immortality.
Now, he stands just two wins away from tying the county's career wins record of 133, held by 2007 Century graduate Alex Grassi. Former South Carroll wrestler Andrew Gold actually finished his career with 135 wins, but about half of those came after he transferred to Mount St. Joseph following his sophomore year.
"I didn't even realize that I was this close until a few weeks ago when my athletic director [Jim Horn] informed me," Mullen said. "Since I've been told, I've been shooting for it, but it's not really at the top of my priorities right now. A state championship is what I'm after."
Despite a 131-17 career record and three county tournament titles, Mullen has made it the state finals each of the past two seasons, only to fall each time.
If this is finally Mullen's year for a state title, Cavaliers coach Dennis Frazier believes it will be because of his desire to continue learning on the mat.
"He always works, always listens and always tries to pick up what we're doing," Frazier said. "Just yesterday in practice, I was showing a counter that he really doesn't need -- because he never gets caught in this particular move -- but he gets down and goes over it again and again and again.
"With a lot of kids, you show them something, they do it one time and it's, 'I've got it.' But you need as many reps as you possibly can get to actually hit it in a match situation, and he gets that."
It's the same attitude that has taken Mullen to the top of his class academically, and drawn the interest of of same of the nation's top academic programs, including several in the Ivy League.
"He's looking for academics first, and a place where he can wrestle second," Frazier said.
First, however, there's some business to attend to.
No. 11 South Carroll has one regular-season match remaining, Wednesday night at Frederick, before competing in the county, regional and state tournaments. That should give Mullen (28-2 this season) plenty of chances to climb to the top of the county's all-time list.
Mullen feels he's up to the challenge.
"I feel like I've only gotten stronger each year," he said.
Three wrestlers each from North Carroll and South Carroll are included in the latest rankings from the Maryland State Wrestling Association.
The list is led by a pair of South Carroll wrestlers -- Cam Hobin (119 pounds) and Mullen -- who each are ranked second in their weight classes. The Cavaliers' Zac Stavish is also ranked sixth at 160.
North Carroll's list is led by Jason Thomen (215), who ranks third. The Panthers' Kyle Lemmon and Jeremy Seipp also were named honorable mention at 125 and 130, respectively.
Carroll County notebook