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.
With Wednesday's second-period pin against Brunswick's Andrew Axline, Mullen (28-2) recorded his 131st career win, breaking a school record previously held by 2001 graduate Dan Patterson.
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 Christian reloads
Carroll Christian girls basketball coach Matthew Reisberg never looked at losing his top three scorers from last season as too big a problem.
The return of nine experienced seniors allowed the Patriots' 10th-year coach to breathe a little easier entering this season, and the team hasn't missed a beat.
Featuring a balanced attack that includes seven players averaging at least six points per game, the Patriots have rolled through the Maryland Association of Christian Schools schedule, and appear to be the frontrunners to capture their fourth straight conference tournament title.
"The first two and a half games, we were kind of struggling to see who was going to step up [on offense]," said Reisberg, whose team had five different leading scorers in its first five games. "But since then, they've kind of picked it up."
Leading the way have been seniors Alyssa Hale (12.6 ppg.) Stephanie Zinnamosca and Katie Blizzard. All three have played key roles for the team throughout the season, not only in terms of scoring, but in rebounding and distributing the ball, as well.
In Thursday's 64-45 win over Grace Bible, for instance, Hale led the way with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Zinnamosca added 11 points and five assists and Blizzard pulled down 10 rebounds.
Entering this weekend's play, the Patriots were 15-5 overall, including 10-0 in the MACS, with the conference playoffs scheduled to begin Feb. 19 at Carroll Christian.
Reisberg likes his team's chances in the tournament, which could lead to a spot in the state tournament.
"If we do what we're supposed to, we should definitely have a chance," he said.
To submit news and story ideas about Carroll County high school athletics, contact Rich Scherr at CarrollSports@comcast.net.