Some athletes stare history in the face and blink.
Not Matt Slutzky.
The Aberdeen High junior knows he could become the first Marylandwrestler ever to win four state championships, and it doesn't seem to faze him. He doesn't meekly mumble that he hasn't thought about it and it's not real important; similarly, he doesn't brag about it.
But, when asked, he'll tell you in his own quiet way that it's something he's thought about ever since he won his first state title as a freshman.
"I made a bet with my brother when I was in the sixth grade that I'd be a four-time state champ," Slutzky said after winning No. 3 at the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association Class 1A-2A Tournament here last weekend. "I had forgotten about it until I won a state title in my freshman year."
Slutzky made relatively quick work of all four opponents at the 22nd annual state tourney. He started by pinning Wyatt Griffin of Francis Scott Key (Carroll County) in a mere 49 seconds, then eliminated Tony Zancan of Atholton (Howard County) by technical fall, 17-1, to advance to the semifinals.
Next up was Brian Michaels of South Hagerstown (Washington County), who Slutzky blanked 8-0. Slutzky wrapped up his showing with an impressive 17-4 romp over Mike Trower of Stephen Decatur (Worcester County).
Slutzky started with a takedown late in the first period, butTrower reversed him to tie the match at 2-2. From there on, it was arout.
Slutzky scored four points in the closing seconds of the first period to take a 6-2 lead, then added an escape, a takedown and three back points for a near-pin in round two for a 12-2 lead. Trower added another takedown early in the final period, but Slutzky reeled off a reversal and another near-fall for the final margin.
Slutzky, of course, is coached by his father, Dick, longtime coach of the Eagles. The elder Slutzky had led his team to a state record-tying three consecutive state titles, but Owings Mills of Baltimore County blewaway any thoughts of a four-peat in 1991. Owings Mills rolled to thetitle with 125, Southern of Anne Arundel County was second with 82 and Smithsburg of Washington County was third with 71.5. Aberdeen placed fourth with 70.5.
While the elder Slutzky, with his trademark Marine-style haircut, can be a strict coach, his son isn't complaining.
"We have a great relationship, both as father-son and coach-wrestler," the younger Slutzky said. "And as a coach, I don't think I could have a better one."
Slutzky was joined in the winner's circle by teammate Zach Fowl, who took top honors at 103 pounds. His path wasabout as easy as Slutzky's until the final round, with a forfeit andtwo pins to reach the championship.
Once there, though, Fowl wound up in a titanic struggle with Kendall Lloyd of Damascus (MontgomeryCounty) before eking out a 5-4 overtime win.
Fowl led 3-0 after two periods thanks to a takedown and an escape, but Lloyd evened the score with an escape and takedown of his own in the last round, sending the match into overtime.
After one scoreless overtime round, Fowl had an escape and had a 5-3 lead after Lloyd was called for lockinghands. Lloyd had a one-point escape in the final overtime period, but couldn't close the gap any further.
The win was a big one for Fowl, who, at the request of Coach Slutzky, gambled and dropped from 112 to 103 for region and state competition.
Six other county wrestlers advanced to either the championship or consolation finals to place in the top four in their weight class.
Jim Ervine of Havre de Grace won his first three matches by pin before losing to Mike Lowe of Mardela (Wicomico County), 4-3 in their title bout. Ervine had three escapes in the match, including one that tied the match at 2-2 in thesecond period, but never could put Lowe down.
Edgewood wrestlers Brian Kocur (130 pounds) and Keith Spurlin (152 pounds) joined North Harford's Dan Gunn (160) as consolation (third-place) finishers. Aberdeen's Dan Osorio placed fourth at 140.
Following Aberdeen in the team standings were Edgewood, 12th with 35 points; Havre de Grace, 17th with 27; North Harford, 19th with 24; and Harford Vo-Tech, 38th with 4.
In the Class 3A-4A portion of the tournament, Bel Air finished tied for 18th on the strength of two wrestlers with 22 points.
Junior Scott Birth led the way for the Bobcats, placing third in the 119 weight class. He topped Tony Lignelli of Northern-Calvert, 12-4, in the consolation finals.