Northeast a surprise easy winner


When a bubbling Linda Grunder burst onto the floor and did a little dance with her son, Al, after he'd won the state Class 2A-1A 160-pound championship, the celebration started in earnest for the surprising Northeast Eagles last night.

The Eagles had won the state 2A-1A wrestling tournament in a breeze and ruined the party for pre-tournament favorites North Carroll and Francis Scott Key in their backyards at Western Maryland College.

Northeast was never in trouble after the semifinals and posted 120 points.

Owings Mills had two state champions as Gregg Kessler decisioned Mike Lowe of Mardela in the 135-pound match. Grant Johnson (171) won his third state title with a 4-1 decision over Ken Farrell of J. M. Bennett. Two other Baltimore County wrestlers won state titles -- as Milford Mill's Gary Harris decisioned Southern-AA's Tyrone Neal, 10-1 and Pikesville's Cory Setten decisioned Brian McCarthy of Joppatowne, 6-4 in overtime.

The state title was Northeast's first since 1976.

Smithsburg was second with 87 points, Rockville third with 76, Owings Mills fourth at 71 1/2 , Northern-Garrett was fifth with 71 and then came North Carroll (70 1/2 ) and Francis Scott Key (63).

The Panthers and Key were both ranked ahead of Northeast all season but that didn't mean anything to Al Grunder and the talented Kusick twins -- Marty (103) and Mike (112), who both won state titles last night along with Grunder.

Grunder was overcoming three years of state tournament frustrations, as he had failed to even place in his first three trips to the states.

That's why his mother was so jubilant and was still smiling 20 minutes later.

The Kusick twins became only the third set of twins and sixth brother combination to win state titles in the same year.

And they did it in stunning fashion, knocking off North Carroll's highly touted and unbeaten Doug Dell and Jeremy Myers.

Marty Kusick used a takedown and a reversal to score a 4-1 decision over Dell at 103, ending Dell's 31-bout winning streak. The loss left Dell in tears.

Mike Kusick came on strong in the second period and started to control Myers on the way to an 8-2 decision that stopped Myers' winning streak at 31.

"We're not surprised by what we did," said Marty Kusick, speaking for his brother and himself. "But it does feel great to beat two outstanding wrestlers like Dell and Myers. We wrestle each other all the time in the room and that's why we're pretty tough."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad