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‘Wouldn’t you want to have a year like that?’ For multi-sport standout Stephen Hurst, the success keeps coming.

Century's Stephen Hurst defeated Francis Scott Key's Nathan Perry 8-3 to win the county championship at 145 pounds Feb. 22, 2020 at the Carroll County Athletic League Wrestling Tournament at Westminster High School.
Century's Stephen Hurst defeated Francis Scott Key's Nathan Perry 8-3 to win the county championship at 145 pounds Feb. 22, 2020 at the Carroll County Athletic League Wrestling Tournament at Westminster High School.(Jeffrey F. Bill)

Stephen Hurst found his place on a mat as wrestlers from Century, Francis Scott Key, and Westminster gathered Tuesday afternoon at Westminster High School in preparation for their regional tournaments this weekend.

Hurst and practice partner Nathan Perry of FSK took turns drilling with each other at three-minute intervals while the Owls’ wrestling room filled with bodies and coaches barked instructions. The scene was a familiar one to wrestlers such as Hurst, who wants nothing more than to finish his senior season with postseason success.

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The 145-pounder doesn’t take many breaks, whether it’s the afternoon session at Westminster or his athletic career at Century in total. He’s always moving, from one season to the next, not wanting to slow down for fear of losing his competitive edge.

Hurst thrived as a dual-sport varsity athlete this winter — he won an indoor track county championship in the 500-meter dash last month, and last Saturday he earned his first wrestling county title when he beat Perry in the tournament final at 145.

Before that, Hurst starred on defense for Century’s state championship-winning boys soccer team in the fall.

“It never looks like he’s tired,” said Century wrestling coach Steve Willingham. “Wouldn’t you want to have a year like that?”

South Carroll’s win over Manchester Valley in the regular season stood as the tiebreaker, and the Cavaliers claimed their first county title in three years.

Willingham said he marvels at Hurst’s motor, be it in practice or on the mat. Hurst is 33-4 this season, and fifth in his weight class among Class 2A-1A wrestlers according to mdwrestling.net’s latest rankings. Two of his losses came against Carroll County foes — he lost 6-3 to South Carroll’s Rylan Moose on Jan. 8, and 5-4 to to Perry on Jan. 21.

Another was to top-ranked Gene Quodala of Bullis Prep during the Dorsey Duals at Poolesville on Jan. 10-11, and the other a forfeit in the Jeff Yingling Memorial tourney at FSK (Hurst didn’t wrestle the finals against Gerstell’s Rami Tadros because of an illness, Willingham said).

Willingham said he choose Hurst to deliver a speech to the Knights during their down time between the end of the regular season and the county tournament. Hurst’s words and actions are motivating, it seems, but the senior said his success comes down to hard work.

“I’ve been doing this for [a long time], wrestling for about 10 years,” Hurst said Tuesday. “I’ve run track for a while, played soccer for a while. It’s my last season for all of that stuff, so I just want to leave it all out there.”

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He won the 500 dash county title Jan. 25 at Hagerstown Community College and helped Century win the team crown. The Knights were second at the 2A West Region meet, and Hurst took fifth in the 500 while running a leg on Century’s second-place 4x800 relay.

The state meet was Feb. 17 in Landover, where Hurst finished eighth in the 500 (the relay placed 12th). Five days later, he advanced to the county wrestling tourney finals at 145 and got a rematch with Perry.

Stephen Hurst of Century starts, winning the boys' 500M dash during the 2020 Carroll County Indoor Track & Field Championships at Hagerstown Community College Sat., Jan. 25, 2020. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
Stephen Hurst of Century starts, winning the boys' 500M dash during the 2020 Carroll County Indoor Track & Field Championships at Hagerstown Community College Sat., Jan. 25, 2020. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)(Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)

Hurst won 8-3 and gave the Knights their first county champion in four seasons.

“I had to give it everything I have. I knew I could win,” said Hurst, who placed third at counties in 2018 and 120 pounds and again last season at 138. “I lost by one point last time, and I was winning, so I knew I had the capability to do it.”

Hurst credits a focus on conditioning that might seem everlasting to some people. Logging miles during soccer season, from practices and games, bleeds into the winter. Indoor track practice helps with wrestling, Hurst said, and it continues into the spring for outdoor track.

“It’s been a lot of work. But as you can tell ... it’s all been paying off, which is good,” Hurst said. “The preparation is a lot of the same, because they kind of build off each other. If I run well for track, I get the conditioning for wrestling and I go farther into that third period.”

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Willingham said he thinks Hurst can be on the podium for both the regional and state wrestling tournaments. His senior is sitting on 90 career wins, and while joining the 100-win club might not happen for Hurst he’s a contender to become Century’s first state champ in 13 years.

“I’m seeded to do well, and I know I can do it,” he said. “My goal is just to keep pushing through, stay calm the whole time. Just do what I know how to do.”

Century's Stephen Hurst grapples with Westminster's Connor Kolarek during their 145-pound bout in Eldersburg Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.
Century's Stephen Hurst grapples with Westminster's Connor Kolarek during their 145-pound bout in Eldersburg Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.(Dylan Slagle)
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