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After only one night of wrestling in the Freestyle National Championships in Warrensburg, Mo., the local newspaper printed an action photo of Ron Muir on the front of the sports section.

A member of TeamMaryland, the 143-pound Muir was flattered by the photo, which depicted him dumping his opponent -- Georgia state champion Blaine Hess --on his head and in command of his second-round 7-4 victory.

The problem was that Muir was wrestling in the losers' bracket --he had lost, 5-2, to California's 1990 national Greco-Roman champion. After beating Hess, the Glen Burnie resident won two more matches but was eliminated by Illinois' Raphael Wilson, 8-5, two matches shortof All-American status.

Despite hamstring cramps and a nagging injury to his right knee, Muir's efforts were enough to impress a coachfrom Central Connecticut University, a Division I wrestling program.Muir accepted an invitation to visit CCU campus this fall.

"Ron'sjust one of those guys you can't miss. He's so tough," said Cornell Bass, chairman of the Maryland State Wrestling Association. "This is one of the best tournaments in the country for (prospective college wrestlers), and Ron beat some tough kids."

Muir and his practice partner, Randallstown High's Mike Jenson, a state champion, each won three matches and lost two.

"No one on our team won as many matches as Mike and I, but this was a bad tournament for me. I didn't feel sharp at all," said Muir, who also pinned Pennsylvania's Dan Stevens in38 seconds and defeated Iowa state champion Jim Capilone, 8-4, in a weight class that boasted 119 wrestlers.

"The last guy I wrestled was huge, and extremely strong. I went out to shake his hand before the match, and I'm staring at his chest," said Muir, 19, who was among30 remaining wrestlers when he was eliminated.

"But I should havebeaten him. The tournament was so tough that the two-time runner-up from last year got fifth place and the three-time national champion got knocked out."

Muir will attend Anne Arundel Community College this fall and continue to seek exposure through various open tournaments.

"If I can keep wrestling, I think my best wrestling is ahead of me," said the former county champion at Glen Burnie.

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