Two seniors with almost totally opposite wrestling backgrounds are providing leadership and stability for a Joppatowne program that is creating more interest than at any ** time in its past.
zTC Brian McCarthy, a regional champion and third in the Class 2A-1A state meet last year, comes from a wrestling family, and has a solid recreation league and high school background. Jason Wilson, on the other hand, had paid no attention to the sport before moving to the county from Mississippi four years ago.
McCarthy, competing at either 125 or 130 pounds, ran his record to 9-0 before losing to two defending county champions during a tri-meet last week. Wilson, who has had less than two years of competitive experience, also lost twice at 145 pounds in the matches with Aberdeen and Edgewood, dropping to 9-3.
Joppatowne (3-5) lost both meets.
"Brian is more intense this year than last," said coach Larry Swift, "and Jason, who missed six weeks last winter, the result of receiving a gash over his eye during a match, came back in tremendous form. He has an exceptional sense of balance."
At Edgewood, McCarthy gave Aberdeen's unbeaten Zack Fowl, a two-time state champion, his closest test of the season, losing 3-2. He then took Ming Dang, a state finalist last year, to overtime before losing, 7-5.
The latest Maryland State rankings list Fowl No. 1 at 119 pounds and Dang No. 1 at 125 pounds. McCarthy is sixth at 125.
"It's best to get your opponent to wrestle your style," McCarthy said, "but with the three of us, if anyone made a mistake, his opponent gained an advantage. You have to be sound, and the outcome becomes a matter of execution."
McCarthy, who came from West Virginia two years ago, developed his interest in the sport from two older brothers who wrestled in high school. "The sport is addictive, but my motivation comes from a good family life. They support me and push me," he said.
Wilson said: "I started watching my friends as a ninth-grader, then wrestled the next year, placing fourth in the county meet. Last year, I started strong, but never really got it back after the injury. This year, I'm stronger and have more confidence."
Wilson credits assistant coach Jerry Lee for some of this, as the two work out together, and Lee outweighs him by some 45 pounds. "He is making me quicker, and now I feel more comfortable when I'm in against someone my own size," he said.
He is also more into the sport mentally. "Before wrestling, I played football for six years, mostly in the line where there is not much recognition," Wilson said. "Now, even though wrestling is a team sport, it is individual, too. When you go out there, you win or lose on your own. That's a challenge."
Joppatowne freshmen Travis Volmar (9-2 at 112 pounds) and Steve Morgan (9-3 at 119), both former junior-league champions, also are having solid seasons.
"We see them do well, it sets an example," McCarthy said. "I've worked out with Morgan and I think we make each other better. I have the experience, but he's not scared and he makes some moves that keep me alert."