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Cannon always keeps success within his grasp


The spladle.

Sounds like either a German sausage or a piece of medical equipment.

Actually, it's a wrestling move - one that River Hill's 140-pound Howard County champ, Kevin Cannon, uses as his signature.

The spladle has been good to Cannon, who has seven pins off the move this season. Additionally, he's scored countless points off it - even when it fails to produce a pin.

Most importantly, he intimidates other wrestlers with it.

"Other wrestlers don't like to get caught in it because it's painful to either the groin or neck, and it's kind of embarrassing for the person who gets caught, because at first it looks like I'm being taken down, and the next thing they know they're on their back," said Cannon, a senior captain who helped lead River Hill to its fifth straight Howard County tournament title last Saturday, while winning his second straight individual county title. He has 106 career wins.

"But it's most intimidating because it makes them afraid to shoot [for the legs], and most people score their points by shooting," he said.

The spladle works like this:

When opponents take shots at Cannon, he buries their heads on his hip, hooks one of their legs with his leg and grabs their other leg with his arm. He sits back and splits their legs, so that their heads are buried in his ribs, their shoulders are on the mat and their legs are in the air and they are almost completely immobilized.

"If you want to apply even more pressure, you can put the leg behind your head," Cannon said.

He caught his most intense career rival, Evan Bulger of Centennial, in a spladle at the Arundel tournament this season, and Bulger screamed to the referee to stop the match. Cannon earned three back points and one scream point on his way to a 12-2 win.

"I wasn't sure if he screamed because he was in pain, or because he just didn't want to get pinned," said Cannon.

Cannon, who is 27-5, has beaten Bulger three of the four times they've wrestled, including last year's 135-pound Howard County championship, a 6-5 victory.

"I lost that county championship because I didn't want to shoot because I was afraid of his spladle," said Bulger.

Bulger, who moved up in weight class and won a Howard County title at 152 pounds last weekend, lost to Cannon a year ago at Arundel, 5-1.

"I was leading the whole time, 1-0, until the last 30 seconds when he hit a spladle and won, 5-1," said Bulger, who got some revenge by pinning Cannon in the first dual meet at 145 pounds this season. "He's a good wrestler with a different style who can do a lot of things, because he has good balance and good hips and is always in control."

Cannon likes to be in control, and is enjoying his role as team captain this season.

"We graduated a lot of people and that left me as one of the older guys. I make sure the younger guys stay disciplined and know what it takes to win a state championship," Cannon said. "I make sure they are on time to practice, they have their cell phones turned off and that they drill hard. I tell them about my experiences and speak up if they start fooling around. We haven't had a solid captain in a couple of years."

Some things Cannon hasn't been able to control - like the fire that burned down his house in January 2003, leaving him devastated from the loss of all of his personal possessions, including a 6-month-old Labrador retriever. His family currently lives in a rental house near the site of the old house, while waiting for a new house to be finished in June.

The fire disrupted his season, but he still managed to finish sixth at regionals, following up a third-place regional finish his sophomore year. He's hoping for a regional victory this weekend.

He said he realistically hopes to finish in the top three at states. Cannon comes from a wrestling family. His older brother, Scott, finished third at states as a heavyweight for River Hill.

His biggest thrill was River Hill's state dual meet title last season, a feat the Hawks fell just short of this season when they were runners-up to Calvert.

Cannon wrestled the final match with his team trailing by six points to Calvert and needing him to pin to tie for the title, but he lost a major decision.

"He was under a lot of pressure and forced to do things he wouldn't normally try to do," said Hawks coach Earl Lauer, who praised Cannon's work ethic and attitude this season. "He's the first one at practice and he'll wrestle whoever I ask him to."

Cannon will attend East Carolina University, but doesn't plan to wrestle in college.

"It's a great sport that teaches a lot of lifetime lessons, but I've wrestled since first grade, I'm not a natural athlete and I want to be able to eat three normal meals in college," he said. "I would like to coach or referee it somewhere down the road because I do like the sport."

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