I went to cover the Maryland Independent Schools State Wrestling Tournament this weekend. It was work and I knew my press pass would get me in. I wasn't thinking about a need for money.
But when I arrived at the entrance, I asked about getting a program and was told it would be $5. Suddenly I remembered I hadn't been to the bank and had about $2.50 in my wallet. I shrugged and decided I'd probably be able to get one later at the main scoring desk.
As I stood there thinking about it and showing my press ID for entry, a teenager sitting at the table reached in his pocket and pulled out a $5 bill and offered to buy me a program.
It turned out not to be necessary, a program was provided. But my new friend didn't know it would be. He wanted to help.
His name is Hunter Smoot. He's a 16-year-old freshman at McDonogh, where he wrestles in the 112-pound class on the junior varsity. He has been wrestling in McDonogh programs for the past eight years.
"Half your life," I said.
He smiled, "Hey, yeah."
He was manning the table at the entrance. His job was to tell people how much admission and programs were and to make sure no one tried to get in without paying.
"I've already stopped one," he said.
"Besides me," I asked.
"One besides you," he said, smiling.
When I later approached the scorer's table, there was a man in a McDonogh shirt, and I asked if he knew Rob Smoot. My new friend had told me his dad, Rob, was a coach at McDonogh and I wanted to find out if he was an assistant or JV coach.
"I am Rob Smoot," he said.
"Your son just generously offered to buy me a program when I was short of money," I said.
He looked at me, a little unsure.
"My son?" he said. "Are you sure?"
Yes, I was sure.
"I'm just wondering where he got $5," said Hunter's dad. "If you asked him to help you do something, he would. But he doesn't have a lot of money to be buying a complete stranger a program. I don't recall him ever doing that."
Later, Rob Smoot found out his son had brought some of his recent birthday money to the tournament.
"I asked him if he planned to buy everyone a program," Rob said. "He said no, but that you were nice. He said if there had been others who weren't able to buy and they were nice, he would have bought a couple more, but he was also making sure he still had enough to eat later at the food stand."
His dad was still surprised, but he was also impressed by his son's generosity to a complete stranger. He couldn't stop smiling.
A St. Paul's first
There were nothing but smiles and hugs going around among the St. Paul's wrestling team Saturday night. They had seen one of their teammates, freshman Eric Friedman, win the state title in the 103-pound class at the Maryland Independent Schools State Tournament and then jumped for joy when it was announced their ninth-place team finish had earned the State B Conference Championship.
"It's the first time we've ever won the state title outright," said St. Paul's coach Jay Braunstein. "In 1980, while still in the A Conference, we tied St. Joe's, and, eight years ago, we tied for the dual meet title with John Carroll and St. Mary's. But this is the first time it's all ours. No sharing."
Przywara an unhappy winner
Archbishop Curley sophomore Brett Przywara was the No. 2 seed in the 119-pound class and was expected to meet Mount St. Joseph's junior Frankie Goodwin in the state finals, just as he had at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament the weekend before.
But PCA's Charles Savage, a senior, upset him in the quarterfinals, scoring a decisive 9-3 decision. But the story between the two was not over. Savage lost in the semis and wound up facing Przywara again in the consolation final for third place.
Przywara won when Savage became injured, hurting his eye on the mat, and was unable to continue. Savage, of course, was distraught, but so was Przywara. In tears, Przywara wrapped his arms around his foe who tried to push him away. Przywara held fast and talked fast, expressing his sadness over the way the bout had ended, before letting him go.
Then, with tears still in his eyes, Przywara sought out his dad and laid his head on his shoulder. Teammates came by and told him not to worry about his opponent having been injured, that it was part of the game. But the sophomore didn't want to hear it. Shaking off their comforting and congratulatory back pats, he disappeared into the locker room.
"Brett's upset because he didn't want to win like that," said Przywara's dad, Michael. "He's not been in this circumstance before and he's trying to be a good sport. But he's a little shook up."
Przywara, like Savage and every other wrestler at Saturday's tournament who finished among the top six, will compete again this weekend in the National Prep Tournament at Lehigh University.