Pennsylvanian Cary Kolat, trying for his third world freestyle wrestling gold medal at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., this weekend, is known internationally for his wrestling prowess.
He also has ties to a couple of Baltimore-area wrestlers and has a chance to mold another.
Kolat will compete at 138.75 pounds as a U.S. team attempts to win its eighth of the past 10 World Cup titles in a round-robin, dual-meet event that ranks second in prestige internationally only to the upcoming 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Freestyle Wrestling World Cup 2000, run by FILA, wrestling's international governing federation, features several top wrestlers from five of the world's premier wrestling nations -- the others being Russia, Iran, Cuba and Ukraine.
Kolat called this year's World Cup field "pretty tough, probably the biggest thing I've been involved in.
"I've still got about eight or nine pounds to lose," he added Wednesday night from his Fairfax hotel. "But it's not like I haven't done that before."
Kolat won four state titles at Jefferson Morgan High in Rices Landing, Pa. In his first two college seasons, at Penn State, he finished second and third, respectively, in his weight class in the NCAA tournament.
Former state champ Shawn Miller, of Broadneck, still raves about the passion and work ethic of Kolat, his former Lock Haven teammate who won two NCAA titles in his last two seasons at that school.
During those seasons at Lock Haven, Kolat said he "hung around with" former Maryland champ Mike Kusick, of Anne Arundel County's Northeast High, who also wrestled there.
As an assistant coach at West Virginia next winter, Kolat, 26, will take another Marylander under his wing -- River Hill 125-pounder Brandon Lauer, The Sun's All-Metro Wrestler of the Year.
Kolat, who hasn't met Lauer, does know his future charge wants a spot in the 2000 Olympic trials in June. And the two-time Maryland state champ -- 96-0 in high school -- will get a look at his future coach's handiwork from the Patriot Center's stands.
Lauer said West Virginia assistant Zeke Jones, a former Olympic silver medalist, was the main reason he accepted a scholarship offer early to wrestle for the Mountaineers. The addition of Kolat, "a world-class technician with international experience," he said, "only sweetens the deal."
Another American also going for his third World Cup crown is Iowa City, Iowa's Lincoln McIlravy (152), a former three-time NCAA champ and former five-time state high school champion.
Two more Americans, Les Gutches (187.25) of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Kerry McCoy (286) of State College, Pa., are defending World Cup champs and two-time NCAA champs.
Also competing for the U.S. team are Oklahoma's Eric Guerrero (127.75) and Iowa's Joe Williams (167.5), both three-time NCAA champions.
Archbishop Curley coach Alan Gebhart formed and become president of the Baltimore Committee for International Wrestling, making Curley the event's first high-school sponsor.
Members of Curley's wrestling team are staffing the event.
Virginia high schools Herndon, Hayfield, Oakton and W. T. Woodson are hosting visiting teams and had some of their wrestlers working out on their mats this week.
"The committee won a bid to host a 1998 USA vs. Russia dual meet at the Towson [Center], but that meet was canceled because of a tragedy in Russia," said Gebhart.
"But based on the strength of that bid, USA Wrestling offered us Wrestling World Cup 2000."
World Cup event
Where: George Mason University's Patriot Center
When: Today and tomorrow
Tickets: $99, $75, $55
Notables: Teams from U.S., Russia, Iran, Cuba, Ukraine in four-session, round-robin dual meet.