Overlea wrestling coach Bruce Malinowski has undergone a whirlwind of emotions during the past five days.
Last Wednesday, his Falcons (16-2) swept both Baltimore County rivals Owings Mills and Franklin to win the program's first-ever 1A-2A dual-meet regional crown. Franklin was ranked No. 8 in the state, and Owings Mills was the five-time defending champ.
Three days after that, Malinowski's squad dethroned 1A-2A state duals champ Hammond, 41-20, after a semifinal upset of Northern of Garrett County, which entered the match at 16-0 and ranked No. 9 in the state.
The Falcons, who were seeded fourth both in the regions and states, had only 12 wrestlers and forfeited one match in each meet.
Among Overlea's wrestlers, only the Laubach cousins, Jason (125) and James (135), have junior league experience. County and region champ Derrick Oxendine (145) is a third-year wrestler. Justin Mitchell (189), a county runner-up and region champ, has just a year and a half of varsity experience.
Yet, the Falcons came home from Damascus, site of the tournament, with Baltimore County's first dual-meet state title.
"I called my wife, Teresa, and told her, 'They did it.' I'm man enough to admit I was crying when I called," said Malinowski, a former two-time state champ at Kenwood who finished with a 75-1-1 high school career record.
"She said 'I told you they were going to do it,' " said Malinowski, whose squad won last year's county and regional tournament titles.
Malinowski, in his eighth year as coach, has received numerous phone calls from friends, coaching rivals and even old opponents congratulating him for one of several trophies in his menagerie of accomplishments. Last year, Malinowski coached his first state champ, Terry Lawson, making him the county's first former state champ to then coach a state champ.
Bruce is the youngest of five wrestling Malinowski brothers -- all but one of whom wrestled -- who were born to Len Sr., 78, and Julia, 76. A 1979 graduate, Malinowski twice placed in the top four of the Big Eight Tournament for Missouri.
But Malinowski doesn't find it necessary to make his wrestlers aware of his past, instead, allowing his instruction and grueling workouts speak for him as he often trains alongside his wrestlers.
"We talk about how sacrifice and commitment equal success," Malinowski said. "And it doesn't matter whether it's school, work or practice. Sooner or later, if you work hard, success will follow."
Malinowski challenged this season's Falcons with an upgraded schedule, including the Arundel Holiday Invitational, "to see if we really have what it takes."
"I always worry that I didn't do enough. 'Did I overwork them, underwork them? Go over the technique that they need?'"
Last week, several Overlea wrestlers came though with improbable wins.
James Laubach (135) pinned Hammond's state champ Vaymond Dennis. Derrick Oxendine bumped to 152 to beat Northern's Matt Wolf, who was coming off a 7-0 shutout over North Hagerstown's state champ Seth Staley. Later, Oxendine's 15-4 decision came over Howard County runner-up Mark Read of Hammond.
Abidemi Kassim (160) beat Owings Mills' regional champ Matt Summerlein at regionals, and Howard County runner-up Pat Jamison, at states. Against Northern of Garrett, one hero was heavyweight Mike Banks clinching the match, 31-26, with a major decision. Alfred Clark's 18-5 rout of Northern's Rob Holliday at 112 pounds was the fire-starter.
Sophomore Chaudhry Afzal (130), a second-year wrestler up from JV, lost only, 4-2, to Howard County contender Nick LaSalle, a Hammond senior.
"When one kid wins big, or someone wrestles beyond their potential, you see the progression," Malinowski said. "If it wasn't one guy, it was someone else being a hero."
Pub Date: 2/16/99